I don’t deal well with uncomfortable questions.
Q: “So are you married? Do you have kids?”
A: “No, I’m barren.”
Awkward silence #1.
I also don’t deal well with uncomfortable statements.
S: “So, it must be time for you to start having kids.”
A: “Oh no. I HATE kids.”
Awkward silence #2.
I can’t help myself. Ask me an uncomfortable question and my brain spits out an equally awkward response. Maybe I hate these questions because I don’t know how to deal with them. Or maybe I hate them because they seem to perpetuate the standard, stereotypical formula of a woman’s life:
Empty ring finger +uterus = marry and procreate.
I’m not against either, but I wonder why these questions seem to make everyone’s top two list of must- ask-now. Sharing a life with someone is a beautiful thing. Deciding to have/adopt children with that special someone is equally as beautiful. It’s the uncomfortable questions that I’m against; the questions that are asked first above all others, placing them at the top of importance and leaving me feeling like I’ve missed the boat or at least the boat of someone else’s standards.
We all take different paths in life: Marriage, kids, education, travel, volunteerism. Really, there is nothing we can’t do. This brand of questioning imposes women with a societal standard of what defines our gender. For me, having children is not an accomplishment – it’s biology and it happens every day. Hi egg, I’m sperm. Hey sperm, nice to meet you. Wanna hang out? Sure. Maybe we can make a baby later. Alright. Unfortunately, not every couple is capable of reproducing (or easily reproducing), meaning you’d be quite the jerk for asking about kids. Raising kids is the true challenge. In my relationship, being married is just a legality. Staying married and having a healthy relationship – now that takes a daily effort. And again, not everyone is capable of marrying their partner.
Whatever happened to asking, “what’s new with you?” If I happen to have kids, I can tell you all about it. If I just got my Masters, I can tell you about that too. Really, only I can define my own success, and we should, as women, give each other the respect to set our own milestones and be the judge of our own lives. My life may not be what you’d choose for yourself, but that’s why it’s mine. Which leads us to a better formula: Your definition of what a woman is ≠ Who I should be.
By embracing the infinite possibilities that make us unique women, we can avoid conversation that creates judgment, expectation or societal standard. We could even — crazy thought — try to get to each other a little deeper than the stereotypical definitions of wife, mother, student or whatever the label may be. Because after all, no matter what my “definition,” I am still me: A person with interests and opinions and personality. You should get to know her; like most of us, she’s pretty cool. So ask about me first. You can ask about my uterus later.