"When are you going to have children?"
Just reading it written down like that, it seems innocent enough right? And it is innocently asked, of course, it's never meant with any maliciousness. At first it's kind of hilarious that people (even almost strangers) feel like they can ask you this incredibly personal question. I had a friend ask me at my wedding reception, and I laughed my head off, it was so crazy-out-of-the-blue. Especially when you consider I was not yet quite 20!
Fast forward a couple of years. I was at church one Sunday (where this question is especially prevalent) when someone whose name I still don't know asked me the same question. I don't remember what I said, but I do remember how I felt. And I remember crying in the car on the way home. It was a bad day, and definitely a bad day to ask me.
At that point we'd been trying to have a baby for about 18 months. We were at the stage of being tested by our wonderful GP. I had just had to have blood tests, and the reason on the form was Sub-fertility. Even seeing that word on the paper was horrible. It's a fairly long story, and though it has a happy ending, the middle was not a huge amount of fun.
I'm not angry at being asked, not anymore. Before it was something that affected me I am sure I asked it myself, but I don't now, because the real question is, what makes us think we should know something so personal? Even completely ignore the hurt caused to people in situations like I have been, or harder, How is this anyone's business except the couple? I have few people who I would be happy asking me this, and they are generally people who know my situation, and add to that the fact that I have mellowed a lot now that I have 2 children, it doesn't bother me nearly as much anymore.
A couple of weeks ago, while at church again, I happened to be out of Sacrament meeting with a particularly whingey Sam. I was pretty frazzled, Sam runs on a lot less sleep than I like to run on, and I happened to be talking to the same person who had unwittingly initiated the sob fest about 5 years ago (I still don't know her name, she's a friend of Rich's family). Can anyone guess what's coming?
After asking me how the boys were (fine, hard work, enjoying nursery school, whingey etc), came the doozy. "So, are you going to have any more?"
Seriously? I'm out wandering the hallway with a whiner. It can be enough, in the moment at least, to put off any serious broody feelings. I gave her a curt reply, inferring that two was enough (not true), and it ended the conversation and I made excuses and left.
I'm not sure why people think it's acceptable to ask. It probably doesn't even occur to them not to. All I can say is, if this is a question you would ask without thinking about it, please reconsider. I'm pretty sure I didn't tell anybody that we were trying to have a baby for at least a year. It's a difficult situation to be in.There are a lot of people out there who are desperate to have a family, and either find it difficult or impossible without medical help, or can't have children at all.
I'm not saying don't ask, just be considerate. Unless you barely know the person, then I'd say yeah, don't ask ;)
Update: This blog has now moved to www.undomesticaited.wordpress.com - Hope to see you over there!