Yes, that question. You know the one. Do I have to say it? Are you going to make me? OK. But brace yourself. The question is: “Do you have kids?” However many years have passed, however happy I am in my life right now, however much I even feel relieved that I’m not running around a young child, that question still has power over me. Even now, it can still cause a blip in an otherwise perfectly innocuous conversation with a stranger in the gym changing room who thinks she recognises me.
Fear of the question is perhaps even more powerful. Instead of looking forward to seeing my sister and her husband and my gorgeous niece this weekend to celebrate CJ’s third birthday, I think about the birthday party. I plan to avoid it – thinking we can borrow a car and escape for a few hours. It’s not so much the thought of a dozen or so toddlers running around hyped up on sugar, although that’s enough to put me off. No, it’s the mothers that scare me. Either the questions about whether I have children. Or those looks (you know the ones), from the women who are “in the mother’s club” to one who isn’t.
That question has the power to hurt out of all proportion. The memories. The feelings I’ve largely dismissed on a day-to-day basis. That question has a direct line to the tender bits deep inside.