It was one of those things that always drove me nuts when I was single. And I do mean always. I couldn’t understand why that seemed to be the one important part of my life to so many people. Family I barely spoke to? Check. People I had just met? Check. Random acquaintances that I saw rarely? Check. Of all the things going on in my life and the one thing everyone had to ask about was if I had a boyfriend?
It drove me insane. I actually remember discussing it with one of my cousins once. She was talking about how mad it made her when people did that to her and we both laughed and promised to never do that to each other. And we both stuck to that promise. What I told her, and then later other relatives, was that if there was someone in my life worth mentioning, trust me, you’d know about them. It’s no secret that I don’t do secrets.
I thought that running away to live with B, then eloping together, and then moving to the far side of the world would solve the age old problem. At least they no longer ask if there’s anyone special in my life. Now the question is, quite possibly, even more personal and less desirable than the original.
I get people asking us if we have children. If they’ve never met us, we’re at an age where that comes about naturally. That one doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the follow up when we say that we don’t have any. The asking why we don’t or when we plan to have children is beyond inappropriate. And we get the latter all the time. We get told it’s high time we start having children. That we’re old enough now to have kids. That we’d be great parents. That it’s our duty/responsibility/job/take your pick to have children. That we don’t know what we’re talking about when we say that we actually don’t want any. That we’re too young to make that decision.
Last night, we were talking with one of B’s younger brothers. I’m not going to lie, he was already getting on my nerves with another issue. But then he decided to start harassing us about having children. He’s only 18 months younger than B is, but he determined that we were old enough and had been married long enough that we should have children now. He was getting beyond annoying when I interrupted the two of them. I asked him the following, “Little bro, what if I tell you that I miscarried just last month and that I don’t want to talk about this.” I let it hang in the air before telling him that I had not, in fact miscarried, but that he needed to learn that when a couple wants you to know that they are trying to have children or are going to have a child, they will.
In the last year, I’ve had multiple good friends suffer from miscarriage. I’ve cried with them and for them. I’ve been sad for them when I see baby posts on facebook. I’ve encouraged them on as they went about trying to start their family again.
There are things you just don’t ask people. If you meet someone and you’re not sure if they’re single or not, just talk with them. Ask them about what they like to do. Ask them about their studies (if they’re in school). Ask them what their dreams are. Don’t make them think their self worth is in finding a boyfriend or girlfriend.
If you’re meeting a new couple, think twice before asking if they have kids. Chances are, if they do, it’ll come up naturally. If they don’t, you never know why they don’t. Are they choosing to live childfree? Are they infertile and struggling to conceive? Are they recovering from a loss? You cannot know the answers to those questions, nor can you know if your question will cause them unintended pain. Not everyone who is infertile wants everyone to know about it. Not everyone who has suffered a loss wants to tell the entire world.
When in doubt? Just don’t ask.