My choice to have a child has nothing to do with anyone else.
As soon as I started wearing an engagement ring on my finger society joined the ever-expanding queue to start pestering me about my reproductive choices. I can’t go to any social gathering without the question coming up; ‘when are you planning to have a baby’? I have passed that stage in my life where I am invited to 21st and 25th birthdays. I have even moved past the wedding phase and have recently found myself being invited to more and more baby showers. And as happy as I am for my friends who are moving into the next phase of their lives, as an engaged woman these parties have become a minefield for someone like me, someone not interested in answering other’s people’s questions about babies.
After my sister got married, people assumed that the next and ‘natural’ step for her to take was that of becoming a mother. Everyone would ask, in their own annoying manner, when the pink foot was coming, poking at or eyeing her stomach. She chose to deal with it by reading her audience and telling them what they wanted to hear because not only do people ask what your delivery date is as soon as you’ve signed the prenup; they also have their own opinions on when you should be having children.
She took it in her stride and it didn’t seem to bother her all that much. I, on the other hand, saw red within the first half an hour of the first baby shower I attended when three different people either hinted, commented, or plain out asked me when I’m going to start having babies. After venting to my sister, she suggested I let the comments slide because, after all, that’s what people will do.
I couldn’t let it slide and quite frankly, I refuse to. When you ask me when I am going to start having children you are making assumptions about many things that have absolutely nothing to do with you.
The choice of whether or not you want to bring children into this world is a very personal and private one that should be taken between you and your partner. It’s a choice that’s dependent on many different factors – whether or not you want children, whether or not you can afford to have children, whether or not you are willing to bring a child into this world riddled with problems that make you shudder at the thought of raising a human being, and whether or not you are even able to have children.
I have witnessed so often, a married woman and her husband being bombarded with the children question only to watch their faces dip into sudden despair as they are forced to say, “we’re trying” or “that’s the plan”.
I cannot blame these people with their questions entirely. We have become socialised to ask these questions at certain milestones in people’s lives. What I do blame them for, however, is for not thinking a little further. Instead asking how my studies are going or what my future career plans are or how my husband is going to support me in pursuing my goals, they resort to a question about my body.
Can we, as women, start building each other up with the questions we ask instead of poking our noses where they don’t belong? Yes, we have the gift of life but we also have the gift to do with our lives amazing things that don’t necessarily entail having children when others think we should be. We can be mothers, we can be conquerors, we can be explorers and fierce career women. We can be one and we can be all but it’s for us to decide and for you to find out.
- Wits Vuvuzela, SLICE OF LIFE: It is just a game after all, right?, October 6, 2018
- Wits Vuvuzela, SLICE OF LIFE: It is true, men are trash, September 27, 2018
- Wits Vuvuzela, SLICE OF LIFE: Sun’s out, so are sexual predators, September 22, 2018