I completely lost my blogging mojo this week, and missed my usual Monday post. I'm not sure why, but I'm going to blame my current obsessions:
a) watching the Olympics,
b) binge-watching a TV series, and
c) not getting enough sleep - see a) and b) above.
But I can't go by this week without a post at all, and Jess as inspired me here, talking about how she has lost the need to justify her decisions. I've long advocated for not telling people why you don't have children if you don't feel that you want to share that with them. Well, if only I followed my own advice!
On the weekend I was out with some people I've met recently - my husband has known the guy for years, and they've started inviting us to do things together (pub quizes, and a get-together on Saturday night). So, we got a version of THE question. They knew we did not have children, and they knew we are long past the age when we might try. Thank goodness! What they didn't know was why.
So, at the table, in front of the other guests (one of whom I first met that evening), out of the context of any conversation, I was asked, point blank, why I didn't have children? It makes me laugh a little, because she phrased it this way:
"So, do you not have children because you couldn't have them, or didn't want them, or you never wanted them?"
I must have sighed, though I think I was just wondering, "what version of my truth do I want to share with this person who is not a personal friend of mine?" As I hesitated, she added, quite stridently,
"or is it too personal to talk about and you don't want to say?"
Like she was giving me much of a choice! (Once again, I wished I had had the politicians' media training that would teach me how not to answer any questions I'm asked!)
I sighed again, and shrugged. "It didn't work out," I said.
"Oh!" she said. "Like X and Y." (X and Y are mutual friends/acquaintances.)
"Yes," I said. I could have left it at that. But I was torn. I didn't want to seem ashamed of it, because I am not. But I resent being forced to give information that I wouldn't normally have chosen to give. Not until I'd got to know her better. Still, I also like people knowing that fertility isn't easy, and that every pregnancy doesn't end in a baby, so I simply added that I had had two ectopic pregnancies. If she knows what they are, then fine, and if she doesn't, then she can educate herself. Though I don't think that is going to happen. I didn't add anything else. I don't think it is her business (yet) to know about IVF, adoption, or any other decisions we had to make along the way.
In glorious hindsight, as I write this, I wish I'd just said that it doesn't really matter whether I wanted children or not, because the outcome is the same. I might store that away, and use it next time. I like it as a response much better than being forced to say "it's personal" or "I'd rather not say." Isn't it always the way that we only think of responses (the ones we wished we'd given) hours or days later? lol
The conversation ended only after she started saying that we got to do a lot of things because we don't have children. To be fair, she might have been trying to show some empathy,
trying to understand what our lives are like, but it didn't feel like that. It felt as if she needed me to tell her that our life was still good, as if she wanted to pop us in that stereotype of carefree No Kidding lives, allowing her then to not think about our lives at all. I didn't go into much detail. Like Jess, I didn't feel the need.
Ultimately, these questions and the way they are asked, how they are phrased, and the tone of voice that delivers them, say so much more about the person asking them than they do about me. So I'm hoping in writing this that maybe someone will read it and not ask the questions in this way. Or that it might help someone think of their own preferred responses to these questions. That would make it worthwhile.