It's amazing how a woman's life can be summed up in a series of questions that begin with, "Who are you dating?" No sooner than sharing with friends and family the official status that she has a serious relationship is the next question fired off combat-style, "When are you getting married?" After years of life changes, physical moves, jobs ending and businesses beginning are the most invasive questions posed which include, "When are you having children? Don't you want them?" Ironically those questions aren't as quickly posed by friends and family, but instead by complete strangers.
I left NYC and a buzzing digital agency on Madison Avenue in 2007. My daily environment consisted of young and ambitious sales reps with a few executives who were at the beginning of their married lives. For the most part, we were all focused on building our careers, making names for ourselves and growing into the people we wanted to become.
I moved to Dallas, TX to be with my boyfriend of two years in the Summer of 2007. He was promoted and had to move from Pennsylvania. We were tired of trekking back every single weekend from PA to NY on a 4 a.m. bus. It was time for the next step and we were very excited about it. This also happened to be another office environment for me, but this was a twist. Nearly everyone had children and if they didn't have them, they certainly were in their plans. As for me, I was questioned constantly about when I would get engaged. Not by people who I considered to be friends at work. I was interrogated by complete strangers who worked in different departments.
Then it happened. The Summer of 2009 in front of the Louvre in Paris, I became an engaged woman. Excited for our next steps and ready to plan a wedding, we planned a destination wedding... at an adults-only resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. It was everything and more and even though we planned it at a place that no one could bring their children, the glows on their faces from enjoying their vacation with their significant other was inexplicable.
After I was married for a few months, I had an appointment at the dentist. This happens to be a pretty renowned dentist in Dallas, so I didn't think anything out of the ordinary would occur. He introduced himself and after I answered that I was married, the immediate question thereafter was, "When are you having kids?" When I uncomfortable and practically apologetically said, "I don't know, it's not our top priority right now," the response I received was, "Well, what's the point of getting married if you're not gonna have kids? That's the whole point! Sure it's great in the beginning but then you get bored if you don't have kids." I nearly fell out of my chair and strangled the man. I was absolutely blown away. A man, a doctor no less was reading into my future -- and arrogantly at that.
Fast-forward almost four years later. I recently was at a salon when an aesthetician asked me if I had children. I replied, "No". She proceeded to gasp, asked how long we had been married and judgmentally gawked, "Don't you want kids?" Here we go again, I thought. I left my appointment feeling completely offended and in a rage. How dare people have the nerve to ask complete strangers questions that they're the least entitled to ask? Did she ask if I graduated from college cum laude? Did she ask if I had traveled to over 30 countries? Did she ask if I spoke different languages? Did she ask if I had a happy marriage? Did she ask if I was healthy or had any physical struggles? No. She asked one question that happens to be the most invasive question to ask any woman.
I immediately posted a status about the experience on a social network when I returned home. Friends from around the world chimed in with their experiences and how offended they had been by the same question. It's completely insane and unacceptable that people feel the right to offend others so freely. Friends who had children and were single mothers, friends who struggled with infertility and friends who have been married for 20+ years and are still asked those questions voiced their frustrations.
Turning 30 didn't put my biological clock in a race with anyone else's. I feel completely fulfilled after navigating through some rough family waters throughout my 20's. I am elated about where I am in my marriage, the unmatched love I have for my two mini dachshunds, my relationships with friends and family that I treasure and a business that I adore. Yet somehow, the life I've built isn't fulfilling... for other people. It's time to take a stand and realize that invasive questions not only need to stop at sexual orientation, religious beliefs and political affiliation. They need to stop at any questions regarding reproduction. If I don't bring up my uterus and what I am or I am not doing with it, you shouldn't either. I'm off to go snuggle with our friend's babies on a trip home and enjoy on a company awards trip for my husband a few weeks later. Then we'll jet-set on a two week business and pleasure trip to Europe together where we'll drink champagne and immerse ourselves in joie de vivre.