I'm in my mid-thirties, I'm married, and I don't have children. This apparently makes me some kind of circus freak. Don't get me wrong, I like kids. I was a teacher for several years just out of college. My friends kids are some of my most favorite little people in the world. But apparently if you make it to my age and have managed to find a Wonderful Husband, you are expected to have children before the ink is dry on your marriage certificate.
I thought that once we got engaged, I'd be free and clear of annoying questions for at least the year we were planning the wedding. Oh how wrong I was. In fact, I can remember a conversation I had during my work bridal shower with a senior male coworker who asked, "So, I guess we'll be hearing the patter of little feet soon enough." I almost looked around to make sure he was talking to me. I hadn't even gotten married yet and already I was chasing little feet? When did this kind of comment become okay? I realize that I was supposed to get married a long time ago (read, before I turned 30) and that by now we are supposed to have children, but we don't. We're on our own timeline, not the rest of the world's.
Every time I am nauseated it's not morning sickness, but thanks for asking. If I'm looking a little thicker around the middle, it's probably because I've been indulging in a few more French fries than usual and forgoing the gym (as has been my habit for many years). If I turn down a glass of wine, you can keep your sideways glance to yourself -- I'm probably just hungover from the night before.
As more and more of my friends get married and move to the suburbs and have children, I am more acutely aware of the fact that we don't. It might also be because at least once a week someone will ask me, "So, when are you going to start a family?" I hate that question and what it implies: that WH and I are not a family because we don't have children. That the family that we've built for ourselves that consists of our parents and siblings and an army of friends doesn't really count.
We're approaching the holiday season . . . a time of parties and gatherings and family events. It's inevitable that I'll be asked at least once about our family planning. The same way we were asked for four years about our marriage plans. And the same way I was asked for years before that if I was ever going to get a boyfriend. (I was even told once, "Aren't you getting a little old to be coming to Thanksgiving by yourself?") What if we were to have a baby . . . what would the next question be? When are you going to start teaching him to read? Where is she going to college? When is he going to get married? When are you going to die? I mean, where is the line?
I read a joke once where a woman said, "Every time I'm at a wedding and my elderly aunt says to me, 'You're next,' I just wait for the next funeral when I can say the same to her." Maybe I should figure out a way to take this approach the next time someone pries into my personal business. In some cases, I know it's because they care about us, but in most cases it's simply because they're nosy.
So consider this is my pre-holiday public service announcement. Think before you ask some of these questions. Not everyone can have children. Not everyone wants to get married. And believe me, if it's a woman who lives in the D.C. area, it's not exactly easy to find a boyfriend. Besides, the person you are asking already thinks about it a lot more than you do. Your question just calls attention to something that is out of all of our hands. Or maybe, just maybe, some of us are happy just the way we are. Instead, stick to gossip about crazy Aunt Jane's reindeer sweater or how drunk the office douchebag is getting at the Christmas party. Either that or be the drunk douchebag -- at least then nobody will ask you if you're pregnant.