At 29, female and happily married, there is one question I despise more than all others. It's the dreaded, "When are you going to have kids?"
People always throw it in there casually, too. Usually between such innocuous questions as, "How's your mother?" or, "Where's the bathroom?" Just as I'm getting comfortable in a conversation, someone drops in wondering if my ovaries are firing at full capacity and how often I'm banging my man. And while they're at it, what's my current condom bill? Because really, that's what asking about family planning boils down to.
I'm pretty much an open book. I can't help it. As an obsessive-compulsive, I feel an internal need for brutal honesty. But when it comes to making whoopee with my mate, I'd generally prefer to keep things private.
Sexy-time invasiveness aside, asking about making babies also presupposes two incredibly personal assumptions. First, that you want/plan to have children, and second, that you are physically able to procreate.
Not everyone wants to be a parent. My bestie is a Harvard grad and one of my favorite people. She does not want children. That's OK. People constantly tell her she'll change her mind -- just wait and see. It's not going to happen. She has many goals in life, and children aren't in her plan. Not wanting to have children doesn't make her a bad person, and not everyone needs to procreate.
Before I get to the second assumption, let me introduce you to my friend "Jen." Jen is also 29 and happily married. She has been trying to get pregnant since her honeymoon in 2012. In the last three years, she has suffered multiple miscarriages, and she is now about to go through her first round of artificial insemination. As you might expect, she never wants to answer the dreaded "when are you going to have kids" question. If it were up to her, she'd already be a mom.
It's such a slap in the face to inquire about one of the most emotionally charged and highly personal decisions in a person's life. I've been guilty of it prior to my own nuptials. After I became eligible in society's view for motherhood, I realized how emotional this query could be.
For me, this is a complicated question that has a lot to do with my husband's status as an active duty military officer. I'm not sure when the timing will make sense, and there's always the chance that I'll have fertility issues. It's constantly on my mind, and honestly, it's already a bit of a sore spot. I don't want to discuss that with everyone I meet within 15 minutes of beginning our conversation.
I've been told that if I remain married and childfree long enough, people will stop asking. That's some comfort, I suppose. In the meantime, I'll continue to perfect the smile-mask, and give a cordial "not yet."