Now that I’m entering my late twenties, I regularly get bombarded with comments about how I must start thinking about having children because having them young is the best time to have them and because, seemingly, nothing I do outside of my ovary function is of any interest to anyone. Being a badass young lady and a fierce feminist with buckets of ambition, you can imagine how frustrating this can be.
To give you an example; I wrote a list of thirty things I want to do before I reach thirty years of age. It features such items as starting a novel, meeting a sloth in person, travelling to Canada, and raising money for charity. In my humble opinion, a lot of the items on this list are pretty interesting challenges for a young lady to be trying to achieve.
Obviously not interesting enough.
I got a comment about the fact that I hadn’t included having children on my list. To say that my feathers were ruffled is quite the understatement. I was furious at the suggestion that all of the things on this list were somehow completely superfluous to what should surely be my real goal; having babies. Aiming for promotion? Boring. Learning an instrument? Why bother. Start preparing my womb to pop out perfectly formed little beings? DING DING!! We have a winner!!
Add to this the fact that I have been in a relationship for ten years and am not yet engaged, married or pregnant, good grief! The incredulous looks I get from people when I proudly state that both Greg and I are too busy doing other things to start on all of this adult stuff makes me feel as though I’m a gnat’s wing away from being immediately placed on bed rest and diagnosed with hysteria.
Now I know there have got to be some ladies reading this who are nodding their heads and reliving every lecture they’ve ever had about having children. There may be women out there who never want children, those who don’t want them right now, those who are unsure and those who may never be able to have children of their own. That is why I’m writing this. I’m telling you that you’re not alone in feeling this immense pressure that your sole purpose as a woman is to have children.
However, knowing this is not enough to arm you against the raft of baby police out there. A sociological argument just isn’t going to cut it in that instance where you’re being told precisely what to do with your reproductive organs (goodness knows I’ve tried). So, here are my suggestions for dealing with those who throw down the baby gauntlet….
The advice giver:
Description: The advice giver is somebody who thinks that they’re doing you a favour by imparting their worldly wisdom. I find that the people most frequently telling me to give birth right this instant are those who regretted having their children late. Fundamentally, this is a kind act because they are trying to give you the insight they never had whilst you still have time to act on it. Sweet, yes, but also annoying.
How to deal: Handle the advice giver with care. Their advice may be irritating but it comes from a well-intentioned place and they are likely to get upset if you are too bristly. Gently remind them that you have other goals to achieve and suggest that you’d love to chat about your ambitions instead.
Stress level: ☹☹☹
Description: The expectant is the person who has decided that you’re at the right time of life to start utilising those reproductive organs instead of just letting them gather cobwebs in there. The expectant has assessed your life situation, like an insurance broker who counts piles of babies instead of piles of money, and determined that if you don’t have children right now you’re basically going against what is expected of you as a person.
How to deal: To get the expectant off your back, you might have to provide an element of justification about why you aren’t in labour already. This is totally unfair but they are unlikely to change their mode of thinking unless you give them an alternative to consider. Tell them about the traveling you’ve been doing, or the promotion you’re going for or the fact that you love how you can just go out on a date without having to think about any little folks.
Stress level: ☹☹☹
The enthusiastic parent:
Description: The enthusiastic parent is the parent of the best child ever created in the whole entire history of the universe, ever. They literally cannot talk, tweet, or Facebook about anything else. Photos are forever shoved under your nose, tales of parenthood are paraded in front of you like a guilt-inducing piñata, usually accompanied with an insistence that you’re missing out.
How to deal: Dealing with the enthusiastic parent is difficult because you simply cannot be rude. There’s a certain amount of etiquette required simply because one of the people involved in creating this child had to perform the equivalent of squeezing a watermelon through a straw. I suggest a jokey-truth; a laugh with a throwaway comment that might just resonate. Something like, “hahaha! God, baby police much?! hahahah” *playful slap of the leg*
Stress level: ☹☹☹☹
Description: The aggressor is the person who makes your blood boil, who is relentless in their plight, who is a ninja-master in weaving babies into any conversation. Their aim is direct confrontation, the desire for which is usually borne (excuse the pun, ha) out of falling into all of the above categories. They simply cannot handle your childlessness.
How to deal: If options 1-3 above do not work, you will need to harness your inner badass and get snippy. I’m talking cutting them off mid-sentence when the talk turns to babies, I’m saying walk away if you feel like a grenade about to go off, I’m suggesting being outright honest about how damn inappropriate/offensive/undermining/rude they are being. The knack to being snippy is to maintain decorum at all times. Tempting though it may be, don’t descend into scrappy arguments. Take the moral high-ground and put them in their place.
Stress level: ☹☹☹☹☹
So ladies, I hope I’ve given you some small but useful tools to deal with the tide of baby fanatics out there. Remember though, the most important thing is to remain true to your hopes, dreams and plans at all times. Realising that society expects you to have a baby is half of the battle because you can be prepared for any confrontation you encounter. Even though societal attitudes aren’t going to change radically overnight, being strong in our beliefs, confident in our choices, and take advantage of the freedom afforded to us in deciding when to have children, will help to slowly erode expectations.
You are an awesome chick whether or not you decide to have children. Keep that inner badass close and don’t be afraid to wield when necessary.
Want more From The Fringe? Good news! You can follow me here:
Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest