It's not the first time it's happened. Unfortunately, it happens all the time. You meet someone for the first time, maybe a neighbor. Another customer in line at the grocery store. A co-worker. After exchanging pleasantries, the next question they want answered is... "So, do you have any children?" As if to say... " Are you the type of woman who desires to be a human incubator for another little person that will at some point of his or her own choosing, aggressively impel its way through your guts all while simultaneously transforming your life to revolve around his?"
Are all woman presumed to have or want children? Is it assumed that our path of life takes us all down a street with a Babies R Us proudly displayed in the center of a cul de sac, and we are all expected to get out and skip with glee at the mere presence of its large purple letters above its door. Really?
What then becomes hysterical, is look on their face when the question is answered with an astounding... No. They want to check the time on their wrist watch, all while trying not to be obviously puzzled by the response. Priceless! Its as if the look at the wristwatch translates to... Do you know how much time you have left? -while the puzzled look parlays to ... And just how old are you, anyway?
I'd be quick to point the finger to my stint in Mississippi, but the truth is, I've always been asked this question. Even my own gynecologist has cautioned... "Don't wait too long." But in his defense, he gets a pass, since he does live and breathe this sort of thing on a daily basis. Mostly, I can give my position, and it is accepted and respected. In some cases, I state my position and a light bulb goes off, as if it was a position that had not even been given consideration, and now worthy of contemplation as a new option. Those are the moments I enjoy, especially when it comes from a young woman at the beginning stages of forging her path. But here lately, I find myself having to succumb to the pressure of having to defend the choices I've made for my life. There is only one way of life here in the deep south. I'll give you no husband...women here raise children by themselves all the time. But childless? That backwards way of thinking has no place here in Mississippi.
And please do not mis-understand my rant. I personally believe that mothers are the most incredible people in the world. I believe it is also one of the most challenging vocations to get right. So when I say that this applaud is coming from someone who has once left for work and had forgotten to put food in her dog's bowl, it is with the utmost sincerity that I salute mothers.
But this isn't about motherhood. Nor is it about children. It is about all of those women who chose NOT to be rated by their potential to give life. It has no more or less merit than for those who do. This is for all the women who for whatever reason, can't. This is about all those women who have chosen more freedom and perhaps a different set of responsibilities. It is about all of those women who courageously admit that their talents could best be suited elsewhere. And this is about all those women who chose to wait for Mr. Right, but didn't find him in time. It would be nice to be considered worthy of my contributions as a person, as opposed to the number of eggs I have fertilized. To whole-heartedly assume that a free thinking, productive and creative woman can not be totally fulfilled unless she chooses to dip into that cul de sac with the Babies R Us, is simply unthinkable. It's as if no action can ever be equivalent to giving birth, and for that matter, why would you want otherwise? Are you kidding me?
So in the event that you see me sporting a new shorter, trendier coiffure... it is probably safe to assume that I have pulled my hair out from the sheer frustration of having to explain why I do not have kids.