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You Don’t Need to Understand

April 18, 2012

            In the two months I’ve been at my new job, I’ve been asked if I had children 3 times. I made it clear to the younger associates around my age that I wouldn’t be having kids ever and my usual response to the question is, “No, we decided to have dogs instead” which is often met with a quizzical, confused glance.

One man, quite assured I was a mother, just dove into the question, “So, do you have a son or daughter?”

Out of the 8 women I work with directly, 5 of them are mothers and the other 2 are under 20 years old but plan on having children. I hear them constantly talk about their children, ages ranging from 2 years old to 18 years old, and about the woes and joys of motherhood; as well as the complicated mixture of working and childrearing.

When it is my turn to return from my weekend off and discuss what I’ve been up to, the conversation is cut short with uneasy looks and changed quite quickly. I speak candidly about my dogs, showing co-workers pictures I have of my little troublemakers but their disinterest is obvious.

A few days ago, one female co-worker, a Filipino lady in her late 30s listens to me tell a story about a romantic dinner I had on the waterfront patio atIl Fornelloas I watched the boats swaying on the waves, and she just said, quite bluntly,

“I just don’t understand how you don’t want kids!”

She was a mother of two or three girls, I think, and for her having children was not only the norm but also expected. I glanced at her, trying to rack my brain for an explanation that would make sense but couldn’t think of anything to say. She was such a nice lady–and a hard worker; and in spite of being a full-time worker…her two children were her life.

I did try to explain it to her, gently. I told her how my partner and I were dreaming of flying all over the world, and spending our Saturdays at farmer’s markets and painting in the sunshine–and how I loved growing my book collection and highlighting the best parts of each book. I counted off my fingers the many things I would accomplish by not having children–adding that I would be the first person in my family to have a university degree. Yet, despite it all, her blank look said it all. For her, having a child was tantamount to everything I was saying. Just as I couldn’t understand why she had chosen to have her children, she couldn’t fathom why I would choose not to.

And then, we turned back to our work; though I am sure our minds had wandered off in different directions.

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From → My CF Life

3 Comments
  1. I’m going to guess that she was blinded (deafened?) by jealousy. 🙂

  2. I was asked this the other day by a stranger (I didn’t mind – it was part of a random and interesting discussion and she had been very upfront about her own choice to have several children) and I said, ‘No, my partner and I are focusing our lives on other things.’ I got a blank look too, but I think it’s going to be my stock answer from now on!

  3. Danielle permalink

    Great blog!

    A little bit about myself – I somewhat have a foot in both worlds. I’ve worked with children for many years as a teacher and I always thought I would have children, but I never felt a deep desire to do so. Then one day my husband and I did the whole *TTC* thing, but it didn’t happen. I have a bunch of fertility issues (PCOS, endometriosis and fibroids. I knew right away, there was only so far I would go to get pregnant. I just didn’t want to spend years feeling sad about “it” not happening. Both my husband and I were always fine with whatever the outcome. Time has gone on and I’m now 39 and my fertility issues are now more than that. They are causing me all kinds of problems. Between the possibility of a hysterectomy and my age, my desire is even less to have a child. I’m very happy with my husband, dog and friends. However, I feel the pressure even more now that I’m approaching 40. Doctors are wondering what I want to do and strangers are assuming I have children already. I understand where they are coming from. Yet, this is forcing me to confront my thoughts and I feel pressure to make a final decision. Here is the kicker….

    When people would ask me if I had children and I responded, “no”, the response back was often “Oh.”, “You’re young still.” or a blank stare – LOL

    The last several times their response has been, “Children are too expensive.”, “You don’t need kids.” and “I wish I didn’t have children.” The last one made me cringe a little. I understand she feels overwhelmed and it was unplanned, so I get where she is coming from (no judgement) – It’s just so taboo to say that. I’ve also met a lot of women recently that have no children – some by choice and others due to fertility issues. In my mid thirties, it seemed everyone I knew was pregnant. I would really love to make more friends who do not have children, but it comes across as though a lot of “child-free” groups are comprised of people who don’t really like the idea of children in the least. I like children, I just never felt a child would complete my life, for lack of better words. I hate boxes.

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