It’s been awhile since I’ve posted but I’ve been consumed with a lot of frustration and anxiety about the “societal norms” surrounding my womanhood, my purpose and value, and my plans regarding procreation that writing a blog post is the only way I know how to share my thoughts and feelings on the matter, without interruption, in hopes of changing people’s behavior and perspective.
I am 27. I have been in a relationship with my best friend, Benjamin, for almost nine years. We have been married for almost three years. Since the day we committed ourselves to each other, we have always had the intention of getting married, starting a family, and building a life together…. a life that WE wanted to build not what others wanted to build for us. Our relationship was rather unconventional from the start because we lived 900+ miles apart and we did so for 3.5 years. Our independence was extremely important to us. Having our own identity was extremely important to us. Having our own careers was important to us. We made a long distance relationship work because of the affection and adoration we had for each other, the unwavering trust we had for each other, and the constant communication. All this being said, Benjamin and I alone (and God) have built a foundation of understanding, respect, intimacy, and love, and we have done so without the background noise of unwanted opinions, inquiries, societal pressures, and others impressing their thoughts and beliefs on what they think is best for us. Granted, we value the opinions and advice of the people we love, but we take opinions and advice for what they are… simply, opinions and advice. Not what’s right or wrong or gospel.
We have been raised by the most selfless, patient, supportive, and loving parents, and we are surrounded by the most amazing and compassionate friends. I can confidently speak for both of us when I say that we are so blessed, grateful, and abundantly appreciative of the support, encouragement, and excitement surrounding our relationship and inevitable family planning. By no means is this post directed at one particular person or group of people. However, this is a candid and heartfelt request to everyone in our lives to be more considerate and respectful of our privacy in regard to having children and building our family.
To answer everyone’s burning question, yes, Benjamin and I plan on having children. We want kids and we want to build a family, but it’s not the business of our family, friends, colleagues, and strangers alike to know when we want kids, how many kids we want, whether I plan to breast feed or use formula, how we plan to discipline, how we plan to raise them, and what my plans will be in regard to my career once kids are in the picture. Yes, Benjamin and I have been married for almost three years and we are inching towards our 30s. We are well aware the “clock is ticking” and we are closing in on our window of opportunity for children, especially if we want more than one. We are also very well aware our parents are anxious for grandchildren and our families are chomping at the bit for us to add little ones to the family gatherings. And yes, Benjamin and I are very excited for all of that, too. However, all of this will come in due time and it will happen in the privacy of our own planning and praying.
Now, let me take a moment to own that Benjamin and I have always been extremely open, transparent, and candid about our life plans with anyone and everyone that cares to ask. I’ve never let it bother me and I’ve never harbored ill feelings about people’s inquiries, but as of lately the questions and constant prying into the privacy of our lives has ignited significant unrest for me. Truthfully, I feel most of the questions and inquiries have been targeted towards me, not Benjamin. I’m the one that has to field the persistent nosiness of when I plan to have babies and what I’m doing to prepare for pregnancy. It’s somewhat violating. Quite frankly, I’m exhausted, I’m overwhelmed, and I’m stressed out with everyone’s persistent and constant interest in our plans for children. I hoped that being open about our plans would keep people at bay, but it’s in fact done the complete opposite.
Truthfully, society suffocates me with the scripted timeline and milestones we are expected to accomplish by certain ages, and the expectations of gender roles in relationships and parenting and careers. You graduate high school, you go to college, you hopefully continue to graduate school, you get a good well-paying job, you get married, you buy a house, and you start having children. And then, once you have kids, the man of the house continues to work and be the “bread winner” while the woman quietly assumes the role of “stay at home mom” and sets aside her pursuits of a career.
For the most part, Benjamin and I have stuck to the prescriptive life plan of what society tells us is “normal”. We’ve almost religiously abided by the expectations of what society tells us should be our life plan. But as the years pass and life experiences wear on our hearts, we’ve started to realize that life is simply too short to allow “society” to dictate what our plans should be, how we should feel about or react to things, how we should fit the mold, or how we should prioritize what’s most important. Not to be harsh, but society needs to fuck off and people need to leave us alone. People need to be educated on manners, etiquette, what’s appropriate, and when to mind their own damn business, especially when it comes to pressuring couples about having kids.
I mean the constant assumptions that Benjamin and I (or anyone for that matter) will easily be able to create life and bear children without complications, or issues, or heartache, or disappointment is infuriating. People in this life truly struggle with infertility, miscarriages, and other medical complications hindering the ability to bring life into this world. And honestly, those personal and very private issues are at the discretion of the couple to share, but not to defend or justify or explain unwillingly to people in their life that just can’t shut their fucking mouths and mind their own business. Obviously, I hope that having children will be as easy as everyone assumes, but the timeline, the details, the planning, the praying, the excitement, and all the other waves of emotion that come with creating life should respectfully and understandably be kept between the two people that are making it happen.
I’ve adopted the following list from an article I read on this very topic because it captures all of the issues surrounding why you should never ask couples when they plan on having kids.
1. NOT EVERYONE IS MEANT TO BE A PARENT.
2. IT’S THE SAME THING AS SAYING, “SO, HOW OFTEN ARE YOU HAVING SEX?”
3. A WOMAN ALREADY KNOWS WHEN THE “CUT-OFF” FOR KIDS IS, AND REMINDERS WILL ONLY MAKE THEM FEEL WORSE ABOUT IT.
4. SHE MIGHT BE HAVING FERTILITY ISSUES THAT YOU’RE UNAWARE OF.
5. BECAUSE NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS, NOBODY IS “ENTITLED” TO HAVE GRANDKIDS.
6. WHAT A WOMAN WANTS TO DO WITH HER BODY IS UP TO HER, AND HER ALONE.
7. SHE MIGHT HAVE A HISTORY OF MISCARRIAGES.
8. KIDS ARE AN EXPENSE THAT NOT EVERYONE CAN HANDLE.
9. BECAUSE IT’S POSSIBLE THEY JUST DON’T LIKE KIDS.
10. AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
To read the full article, visit: https://www.bolde.com/stop-asking-me-when-going-have-kids/
And so my request to all is, let us be. Let the above list soak in. Think about it. Reflect on it. Allow these 10 things to stop you in your tracks the next time you ask someone when they plan to have kids.
And to tie all of this back to my opening statement:
My Womanhood– Times are different than they used to be. Women are more than just vessels for childbearing. We’re more than housekeepers, cooks, and caregivers. Women are valuable, influential, resilient, intelligent, and very powerful. Women offer more to this world than just our ovaries and uteri. Yes, childbearing and motherhood are very beautiful things, but it’s extremely unnerving that society defines our existence on childbearing alone.
My Purpose and Values– Everyone on earth struggles and wrestles with finding their purpose and value in this life. If we didn’t struggle and wrestle with it, there wouldn’t be mental illness. The epidemic of mental illness in this world, not just the U.S., begins and ends with people losing themselves in the inability to feel important, valuable, and purposeful. Because in those three things, we find belonging and happiness. The issue is that society impresses upon us a value system, a ranking, a standard, expectations… things that lead to judgement, unbelonging, and a constant feeling of comparison and inadequacy. All that being said, we need to stop. We, as a society, need to stop perpetuating these issues.
From this day forward, I refuse to allow others to influence and impress their thoughts and opinions about my purpose in this life…. as a woman and having kids included. I seek purpose and value through my faith, and if God manifests His plan for my life through being a mom then I will happily and humbly oblige. My sole purpose in this life is to chase the plan that God has already so gracefully planned for me. My purpose is not defined by the number of children I able to bring into this world or the mom I will some day be. My purpose is not defined by what my role as a woman should be. My purpose WILL BE DEFINED by what God intends, by the happiness and joy and positivity I can bring to my loved ones, by the friend that I am and work to be, the productivity and value I find in my work, by empowering those that society deems “less than”, by the wife and life partner I am to Benjamin, and so much more. And yes, part of my life’s purpose when the time comes, God willing, will be to love, protect, and care for Benjamin and my children. But I can tell you one thing is certain, there is more to me and my purpose than the mom everyone is anxious for me to be.
My OUR Plans for Procreation- They are just that… they are OUR plans. Thank you for your support and excitement, but stop asking.