In which there is the children question

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I’m not the first person in blogs of 20 and 30 something women I read to comment on this topic,  but it’s something that’s been coming up more and more in the last six months: the dreaded question of “so, when are you guys going to have children?”

Before we were engaged, the inevitable question we had to field at parties/family events/other weddings was the marriage one (and interestingly, never the baby one). I always felt that asking us when we would be getting married was a touch inappropriate, especially when it came from virtual strangers, but it is nothing, nothing in comparison with the irritation I feel when asked about babies.

Aside from the fact it’s a highly personal and intrusive question (let’s face it, you’re asking someone if they’re having unprotected sex, and that is never a good topic of conversation), it can bite you on the bum. S’ colleague has a habit of asking people as soon as they get married when the babies will start arriving (case in point: he asked S the day he was back in the office after our honeymoon). I hope he has now learnt his lesson, however, after asking another colleague this question – only for her to reply that she had just found out she was infertile and children were never going to be an option. That answer obviously cost her a lot of pain; not a situation I ever want to put someone in.

When it comes from a close friend, and it’s over a glass of wine, and we’ve been talking about children in general, then I don’t mind. It’s a reasonable question for a mate to ask about what direction your life might take. But when it’s a person at a party that I have just met for the first time and who has found out I’m a newlywed? It is definitely not appropriate.

I will be honest: at the moment I have absolutely no desire to have children. When I was looking at the pictures of Z’s baby, I could appreciate his cuteness but it didn’t inspire any wish in me for one of my own. S’ cousin and his wife are about to have their second child, and whilst I am a good aunt (technically I’m a first cousin once removed by marriage to their little girl, but “Auntie Helen” is easier to say) – I buy lovely gifts, I am happy to bounce on trampolines and I am a dab hand at face painting –  I don’t want a baby or a three year old around 24/7.

I also know that, at the moment, I am far too selfish for a baby. I like our life too much to have it interrupted and I just feel that there’s so much more I want to do before I “settle down”. I know some people would say that the day I got married I settled down, but being married doesn’t stop me from taking a three month holiday, or deciding on a whim to go off camping for the weekend, or drinking an entire bottle of wine on a week night (ahem, not that I ever do such things). Having children wouldn’t completely stop activities such as these, but there’s no denying it would make them a lot, lot harder. My attitude may change: it’s possible I will wake up one day with a burning yen to procreate but until that time? I’d rather have a cat.

So if anyone’s got any particularly pithy or witty responses to this question, let me know. Until then, I’ll have to rely on my Paddington stare.

 

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3 responses »

  1. Ha ha omg I think I read your mind! I wrote a post on almost exactly the same thing!! There were some excellent suggested responses:

    http://asafemooring.blogspot.com/2011/02/dear-people-who-think-its-okay-to-ask.html

    I have to say, I sort of joked about it in mine but how awful for that poor woman who actually had to respond that she was infertile – I hope the person who asked her felt seriously bad after that. It’s just *such* a personal question and I can’t believe people feel they are entitled to ask about it!

  2. These aren’t my ideas, but I think they are excellent:

    “How soon do you need to know?” – Miss Manners

    About nine months after conception

    “I can’t bear children.” Say it so they don’t quite know which way you mean it.

    Every time someone asks me that I put it off another year

    I just set fire to half my paycheck every week and set the alarm for 1 am, 3 am and 5 am. It’s cheaper than kids and I get more sleep.

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