Universally Speaking


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the perceived importance that society places on having children. I know it’s a topic I want to delve into, but I don’t even know where to begin, it’s such a divisive and complicated subject. Plus other people have already put their two cents on it out there, and, quite frankly, they’ve probably said it better than I ever could (The Fertility Privilege). But yet again, the universe bumped me on my ass, and I find myself reeling from the value that is placed on those who can, and do procreate, seemingly with ease.

I was helping a client yesterday, and he was being rather chatty, but in an annoying way. Now, I’m going to be judgey mc-judgerson for a minute here and tell you about this guy. The best way I can describe him is, a doofus. He was rather self absorbed, and kept calling me “dear”, even though he was very close in age to me. He was one of those types that is very loud and boisterous, has his opinions, and doesn’t stop to consider any one else’s.

He was already irritating to me right from the get go, but then he started in about his son, he was telling me what an advanced, amazing four year old he is. It was at this point that he asked me if I had any kids. I gave whatever rote, mechanical answer I usually give, “no not yet”, or something to that effect. I think he asked me if I was planning on having kids, and I told him “eventually”, which he seemed relieved by, as if my not wanting kids would have been some cardinal sin (which we all know some people truly think it would be). He told me what a wonder his child was, how it was the best thing that ever happened to him, that having a child is the most important thing, and on and on. Basically saying that life is nothing without a child. I don’t know why he felt the need to prattle on about it. It was like he was trying to convince me on why I should have a child.

Then the same day one of my old corkers came in, and I was booking something for her, and she was chatting a bit with me. I haven’t seen her in probably over a year, and she worked in a different department than me so I never really got to know her very well. At some point in the conversation she said to me, “so any good news lately?”. I just told her, “oh you know it’s been same old same old”, as I realized what she was really asking me. She then outright asked if I had any kids. I said, “no”, to which she asked, “oh you never really wanted kids did you?”. I almost want to just start telling people that no, I don’t want kids. I corrected her and told her, we do, just not yet. Usually my standard response is “eventually”. Seems to buy me some time, but even that may run out soon.

I was off work Thursday, due to the fiasco that was my IVF baseline day. I was initially supposed to only be gone for the morning, but with the cancellation/uncancellation of my cycle I called in and told them I wouldn’t be in the rest of the day. I was only able to give my boss two days notice of this appointment, as I had to wait for CD1, so I told her I had a doctors appointment that I had been waiting for, and was told I shouldn’t expect to be back at work until after lunch. I also mentioned to her that I may have more appointments coming up in the next couple of weeks but would try and keep them before work (which is true). Then when I called at noon and told our receptionist I wouldn’t be back in the rest of the day apparently I raised some concern, as well as curiosity. My boss text me later that evening to tell me she hoped I was ok, and that she was worried about me. I told her I was having some medical issues, but nothing life threatening. That seemed to be enough of an explanation for her, but some of my other coworkers did as me if I was ok, or if everything was ok.

I appreciate the concern, but some of it is just innate curiosity, and my office likes to gossip. I really wanted to keep all of this completely separate from work, but obviously that would be next to impossible. I’m a private person, I don’t want to share my personal business, especially since I work with gossipy middle aged woman who already have children and will never understand what I’m going through anyways.

No matter where you are, it seems priority is given to those with children, having a family is seen as growth and maturity (although this couldn’t be further from the truth in some cases). People proudly display their families with stickers on the back of their vehicles (my brother and sister in law, and half the rest of the world). I don’t care that Timmy likes soccer, and Janie likes dancing, or that you have a dog, a cat, a fish and a horse. I’m a part of society too, I have skills to offer, and I matter. I am hoping that I’m close to adding to my family and I don’t want that to  change my perspective. I try not to think of having a baby as completing our family, because just the two of us and our dogs, we are complete. We would just be getting a much wanted addition. And I promise I won’t think I am a better person because of it.

16 thoughts on “Universally Speaking

  1. Absolutely agree with every word!! High five. I’m so sick of people asking me if I have children, when I’ll have children, or why I don’t have them. Mind your own business!! I’m sure it’s often motivated by curiosity and the desire to gossip… Definitely at work and amongst certain members of my family anyway.

    It makes me feel awful when people suggest that having children is the whole point of life and life without them is meaningless. It happens quite a lot really. My chances are so low now that anything will work, I need to accept the reality of a childless future and that kind of comment really stings. Sometimes I wonder if there is something missing in their relationships with their partners if they are so completely consumed with their children – almost living their lives through them?

    I’m not hell bent on keeping all of my IF treatment and IVF a secret, but I’m a private person too. It just feels like they are being nosy to me rather than asking out of compassion. Maybe I’m misjudging them all!! I’m sorry you had to deal with annoying people xxx

    • I’m sorry things are looking bleak for your chances, but at least you know your value is more than your ability to procreate. It really is a sad state of society.

      Most people are just asking to be nosy, which is one more reason I don’t want to discuss it with anyone. Hopefully someday I will give less of a shit. Ha!

  2. A year into our infertility my MIL mumbled to me that time gets away from women who put their careers ahead of having a baby. UGHHHH I was so angry! But I couldn’t begin to explain it to her, totally clueless that one. People say dumb crap all the time and they’ll say even more ridiculously dumb crap once you have your baby.

  3. I loathe the idea that life is all about having children. It is so much more complex than that. If it was not, then we are truly not much different than the flies that perpetually haunt us in NM. And because of that general societal feeling, people feel that it is their right to ask about our decisions to have children. It is not anyone’s damn business. I hope that perhaps your coworkers will simmer down in their inquiries, I desperately hope that all your appointments are spot-on.

  4. All the examples you gave struck a chord with me – too many times I’ve been asked how many children I have and I never know how to answer (going through infertility and I have lost twins), and people always think it is so strange that I do not have any children to show off. Well, screw society and their idea of what a family should look like. I hope all goes well with your upcoming IVF.

    • Yes, it is rather obnoxious really when you think about it. It depends on my mood as to how well I handle the question, ha ha. Thank you, I am hoping IVF is the ticket for me!

  5. Your office makes me grateful to work on a team of men. Only one of them ever asks what’s going on with my fertility treatments. The rest prefer to ignore it which is fine with me!. We had a funeral on Saturday and quite a few people asked if we had kids. I just said no. Asking if you do versus asking if you will as two separate things though. The later is always harder.

    • Ah, I wish. Women are so over dramatic. You are so right, I don’t mind it as much when someone asks “if” I have kids, but if I will, or when I will, that’s just ignorant.

  6. Elizabeth

    I love what you say about your family already being complete. My job is very public, but thankfully flexible enough for me to make appointments without any questions asked. However, I get asked all the time about plans for children, because that’s what’s expected. I am running out of polite ways to answer! I think I might start saying that my family is complete- and any addition would be just a bonus.

    • Thank you! When I was first writing it, I had said something to the effect of completing my family with a baby, but it made me think, just because I don’t have a baby doesn’t mean my family’s not complete. Had to correct myself on that one.

  7. hey girl, i get that kind of comments every time… even my boss has already asked me several times if I was pregnant (because now 3 of my 12 collegues are pregnant and she thinks nobody will work any more of something (she has of course a kid herself…). I usually answer to those questions like “not yet” and “yeah we’ll see”. But some people immediately think you just don’t want to have kids. Practically all my friends have kids and talk about it likes it’s the most important thing you will achieve in life, and so they are all anxious to know when I will join in this immense happiness, but there are other important things too! Good luck with the treatments, I hope you will get you’re little bonus to your complete family!

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