Just Call Me Ms. Manners
But Effected's post got me thinking . . . Perhaps some people could use a refresher course on how to speak politely to a "child-free" woman. Because I learned something immediately after I got married: People are not generally comfortable with women who do not have children. Wait - let me correct that - people are not generally comfortable with women who openly admit to not wanting children. I suppose it truly goes against the nature of the universe and that rocks people's worlds. The minute my husband and I got married, people started asking us when the kids were on the way. Seriously. I think my sister-in-law asked me that at my wedding reception. And the first 6 months after our wedding, I was stupid enough to tell them the truth. And those conversations typically went like this:
Not-so-innocent-bystander: So when are you and J. having kids?
Me: We're not.
NSIB: Oh, (smile, wink, nudge,) that will change.
Me: Um, I don't think so.
NSIB: Stranger things have happened . . . you'll see (last word said in a two syllable "I know something you don't know" sing-song that goes up an octave.)
Me (in all my ignorant stupidity and stubborn jackass tendency to try to let people know I'm right): Well, that would be impossible since J. had a vasectomy the month before we got married.
NSIB (Horrified shocked inhale): Wha, I - um - wha, wh-ho-woo-wh0. But WHY!??!
Me: A million reasons (thinking "none of which I feel like going into with you, nosy bastard.")
NSIB: But. Won't. You. Um, be sorry!?!?!?
Me: I'd rather be sorry for not having kids than sorry after I've brought another human being into the world.
NSIB: Harrumph. You'll be sorry.
Here are some of the other things people have said to me back when I was still stupid enough to be honest:
- Aren't you afraid you'll miss out?
- I can't believe that.
- Who will take care of you when you're old?
- What happens when you change your mind?
- Vasectomies are reversible. People do it every day.
- Are you sure you and J. don't want kids? (And to this, I'd love to answer: "Gosh, you know what? I've had 35 years to think about it and he's had 37 years to think about it, but now that you mention it, why, YES!!! Thank God you brought it up.")
- Oh, because you hate kids. (No, I love kids. But thanks for demonizing me in your mind.)
- Trust me, I felt the same way about kids (what way?) but it's different when they're your own.
- Motherhood is the most amazing experience. You have no idea what you're missing out on (this said to me by my former hairdresser and one of the worst mothers I know.)
- We'd love to have you over for dinner, but the kids will still be up. (Again, what do these people think of us? We're such loathsome creatures that we won't deign to set foot in the same room as a child? We're allergic to children? We hate them so much we might have to kill a child if we saw one cross our path?)
So, after six months of having my personal choices questioned, reviled and insulted by everyone from complete strangers to co-workers who I thought were my friends, to family members(!) I decided that the truth is overrated and if someone is going to start with me, then all bets are off. Here is how one of these conversations went recently:
Annoying-21-year-old-Ann Taylor co-worker: Do you and J. want kids?
Me: J. has an undescended testicle and my uterus is hostile to his sperm.
A21: Oh. (Runs away scared.)
Oh - and if I really really don't like you, I'll get teary eyed and whisper something like, "It's. Just. Too-painful-for-me-to-talk-about." That shuts 'em up fast - I figure I might as well teach 'em a lesson and strike a blow for my new blog role models who are struggling with infertility. It's nobody's business, dammit!!!!