You’re married for a sum of 5 minutes and then the onslaught of questions start.
“When are you having children? When do you plan to have a family? When will I have grandkids?”
It may seem like an innocuous line of questioning. But for me, it isn’t.
When I’m asked this question I feel like I’m being judged (this is mainly because I’m judging myself, but that’s another story).
In April I will have been married for three years.
And in those three years I haven’t seen a great deal of my husband. It sounds dramatic but it’s true.
For two of those years James endured a ridiculous daily commute which meant we would see each other for about 1.5 hours a day. During this time we both travelled a lot internationally on business.
We then moved cities and lived with my very generous Uncle for 6 months, still travelling and looking for a place to buy in Sydney. We finally bought a place and then rather abruptly moved to Hong Kong…. and my husband still travels a lot.
(He doesn’t think so, but he does).
To be honest, I haven’t had time to think about children.
Until, I arrived in Hong Kong.
I’ve noticed that here the ‘baby’ question comes up a lot.
After your wedding ring has been acknowledged and your age has been assessed the questioning starts.
The next question usually is ‘Do you have any children?’
When you answer ‘No, I’m not working’ and ‘No, I don’t have kids,’ the next probing question is ‘So you’re going to start a family?’
I actually had one lady say to me last year after arriving in HK, ‘If you’re bored and have nothing to do, just have a baby.’
Others have said ‘Having a baby is a great way to make friends. You can join a mother’s group.’
When I hear this my eyes rapidly widen. A fresh wave of anxiety floods my body and I feel alarmed.
I usually don’t respond with anything.
But here’s what I’m thinking:
- I’m not bored. I actually have a lot going on,
- I have plenty of awesome new friends in Hong Kong. My social calendar is always full,
- I don’t feel emotionally ready to have a baby even at the age of 30 (is this bad? Am I being selfish?),
- I would like my husband to reduce his travel so the idea of having a baby in a foreign country isn’t as scary. (I’m sure I’ll get over this once I settle into my new home, but for now, it doesn’t appeal to me!),
- What if we are trying and it’s not happening, and you have just really upset me? (N.B. This isn’t the case but after studying female infertility at University I know that falling pregnant isn’t a walk in the park for all),
- I don’t think the phrase ‘just have a baby’ can be compared to ‘just join a Mahjong group’ or ‘just play social Tennis on Tuesdays.’
Kids are for life. I get that.
And I want to do a damn good job of being a parent whenever it happens.
I see all the mums who post in Facebook Mothers groups and man do they have a lot to contend with. I take my hat off to them!
I also have a lot to live up to. My parents are amazing.
They gave my sister and I everything (and still do) and I am deeply grateful for this.
But starting a family just isn’t on my radar at this present point in time and I don’t need to be reminded or judged.
I’m sure I’m not alone thinking the extremely personal question of ‘when do you plan on having children?’ can be offensive.
So the next time you go to ask a personal question, be mindful that it could actually upset the person your questioning. Even if it is laden with good intentions.
If you tell me you’re having a baby, I will be the first to hug you, say congratulations and then wonder what the hell I buy as a baby shower gift.
But until then, I probably won’t ask anything about babies.
So feel free to do the same with me. Then you can avoid being shot!
What are your thoughts on the ‘baby’ question? Am I being too sensitive? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments section! x
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