I'm a youngest child. As a kid, I knew I never wanted to have kids. I don't think I even liked kids when I was one of them! I had no younger siblings and I only did the babysitting thing once; I hated it. I ended up with the two brattiest children that ever roamed the Earth, so babysitting was a "one and done" for me.
When my husband and I got married (we are divorced now) I made it very clear to him that I didn't want kids. I thought it was only fair to tell him this news upfront. I told him that if he was looking for the stay-at-home-mom, white-picket-fence, 2.5-children, happy suburban lifestyle, I was not his girl.
Turns out, lucky me, he didn't want to have kids either. Although he had made this decision before marrying me he had clearly never communicated this to his family.
Once we got married, it started off innocently enough. My mother-in-law would ask about kids. I would always refer her to my husband, as I thought it really should be him to drop that bomb on her. My family was well-aware of my desire to remain kid-less, and I wasn't about to be the evil daughter-in-law that was robbing his parents of grandchildren.
I think my mother-in-law got wise to the game because eventually she started to ask me when my husband wasn't around. Behind every invitation to do something "girlie," like go shopping, go to tea or go to the freakin' grocery store, I knew what was coming.
She was trying to separate me from the herd. I felt like the poor baby gazelle that gets lured away from the pack by a hungry tiger who was promising to buy her something from Talbot's.
One day, after a weekend with my in-laws, I pulled my husband aside and gave him the warning, "talk to your family -- or I will, and if I -- it won't be pretty!"
Now, I consider myself a nice person, but when pushed to the wall, I will come out swinging. I was starting to feel picked on, and it was annoying me. Not to mention that my decision not to have kids was a very personal one. I truly was trying to do the right thing by allowing my husband the opportunity to have this conversation with his family in a way that would be most constructive for him -- and for them.
And then it happened. It wasn't even my mother-in-law this time. It was my brother-in-law's mother-in-law. Here, I'll give you a minute to think this through.
Here was a woman who was essentially nobody to me prying into my personal business.
Mrs. Cassidy (not her real name) was a true Bible-carrying member of the God Squad. I don't have an issue with organized religion, but I do have a problem with hypocrites who try to force their opinions on you under the guise that it's "what God wants" (as if these people are on God's payroll and are legally obligated to speak for him).
On this particular night when Mrs. Cassidy decided to lay in on me about when I would be having kids, I had truly hit the wall. I danced around the issue for a few minutes trying to get her to back off. When she didn't, I finally confessed that I wasn't planning to have children.
For the next 10 minutes I was forced to listen to a stream of asinine statements about my choice. We were washing dishes. Finally, I responded.
"You know Mrs. Cassidy, I don't even know if I can have children. I mean, after so many sexually transmitted diseases in high school that might not even be in the cards for me."
A dish dropped. The Bible-lover gasped and put her hand over her heart. Think of the daytime soap queen who is working on acting out a heart attack.
My mother-in-law, husband and a few other family members ran into the kitchen.
"What happened," my mother-in-law asked as she eyed up one of her dinner dishes lying in pieces on the floor.
"Oh, I just had a little slip," Mrs. Cassidy replied.
My husband shot me a look. I shot one back and then raised one eyebrow, giving him the "you-know-what-I-did" look.
The ride home was quiet. My husband was ticked. I was smug.
He stomped into the house. He stomped up the steps. He stomped into the shower. No one said a word.
He flopped into bed, huffing and puffing as his head hit the pillow. I waited for the perfect moment, and when he switched off the light, I knew it was time.
I rolled over and kissed him on the cheek and rolling back over to my side of the bed quietly whispered to him, "I warned you!"