People are always pushing for what’s next. When you’re a teenager, people always ask if you’re dating. When you’re dating, people always ask when you’re going to get engaged. When you’re engaged, people want to know when the wedding date is. When you’re married, people ask if you have any kids. If the answer is no, then people ask when you plan on having kids.
Unfortunately, that last question “When do you plan on having kids,” is unlike the others. You and your significant other can decide to start dating, to get engaged, and when to get married. Those are all choices with limited outside influence. But conceiving? Even if the couple does everything right (timing, nutrition, weight, no drugs/alcohol, etc.) they still only have a 20% chance of conceiving each cycle. Honestly, with odds like that, I wonder how anyone gets pregnant. So many couples are out there who are trying desperately to have a baby, and being asked, “When do you plan on having a baby,” only increases that longing.
Even worse, what about the couple who has experienced a miscarriage? Do they say, “We had a child, but the pregnancy ended in miscarriage.” In this pro-abortion world, what are the chances of people recognizing that couple as parents and recognizing that lost baby as a child?
It’s also incredibly socially awkward for everyone involved to reply, “Oh, we’re trying to conceive.” No one wants to know that, and no one wants to admit that they have tried for a baby and failed.
What about the couple experiencing fertility problems? How should they answer the question, “When do you plan on having kids?”
DH and I have been married 4 years. We don’t have children. We are constantly asked when we will. Honestly, although I would have loved to be a mom, I wasn’t ready during these four years of marriage. DH was in grad school and working part-time. I worked full-time. We would truly go several days without seeing each other. We wouldn’t have been able to afford daycare, and we couldn’t afford me giving up my job. I knew I would be resigning in the summer of 2014 anyway for DH’s vicarage (internship). Waiting was a good choice for us, and it also gave us time to enjoy each other’s company alone.
But the pressure is there. I constantly feel like I am the only seminary wife who isn’t also a mother. I never went to any of the sem wife meetings because I feel so awkward not having a child of my own to talk about in a group of women who are mothers. And the feeling isn’t limited to awkward. If I’m honest, I have to include the feelings of jealousy and emptiness.
I get angry, too. I have been told several times by several people that I know nothing about children because I am not a mother, and that just irks me to no end since my college education and my jobs have revolved around children and their well-being. It is a cruel thing to say. Being a mother does not make someone into a queen of knowledge while the rest of us scrape along in ignorance. Being a mother means you have been blessed with this incredible relationship with this incredible little person for whom you have an incredible amount of love.
My point is, people need to be more understanding of women who are “only wives.” People need to know that “Do you want children someday?” is an okay question to ask while, “When do you plan on having children?” is not okay. The second question places an expectation – one that may not be able to be fulfilled. People need to understand that a woman who is unmarried or childless is not any less of a woman than a woman who is a mother, but it is easy for her to feel this way.
And if you are someone who is longing for a child and get asked the unfortunate question of “When will you have a kid,” you can steal my answer: “When God wants me to have a child.”