I am a woman not an oven; I can do more than make babies!
So when are you going to have a baby?
It’s amazing. I spent twenty-nine years on this planet without ever hearing those words. In fact, for the majority of those twenty-nine years I was actively discouraged from getting pregnant and not just by my family, but from my school, religion, and society. As I got older and the stigma of getting pregnant at sixteen was no longer an issue, the emphasis was on college and education. Later, it was career and travel. “Concentrate on getting that degree.” “Go and see some of the world, first.” “There’s plenty of time for all that. Enjoy yourself.” It didn’t bother me because quite frankly, I agreed.
At the ages of twenty-five, my boyfriend and I embarked on a life-changing adventure by moving to Korea. I talk about this often because it was such a pivotal moment in my life as nothing, and I mean nothing has been the same since; including my opinions and views about life.
Ever since I moved away and realised all that lay outside of my previously ‘small’ world, I’ve discovered that I no longer want a lot of the things I thought I did. It’s not that my list of ‘wants’ for the future has changed entirely, it’s just that the picture looks a little different now. I’m constantly thinking about the future; the places I want to live, everything I want to learn; including the possibility of pursuing further education. Krav Maga, horse riding, script writing, cake artistry and sugar craft; my life has become a smorgasbord of ways to ‘self-improve’.
I’m twenty-nine, educated, witty (I’m told), I have a range of interests from world politics to ancient history and most of what falls in between. I consider myself to be an intelligent conversationalist and I will debate just about any topic. Go on, ask me anything, anything but when I’m planning to have a baby!
How is it I managed to escape the first twenty-nine years of my life without ever having to field that particular question and what happened that suddenly brought it to the forefront of everyone’s minds? People tell you that life doesn’t change after you get married but they are liars, it changes. Before I married Chris, I distinctly remember that any time the topic of ‘the future’ came into conversation the questions were career related, those were questions I knew how to answer. Then I got married and all of a sudden my list of skills got reduced to one; I am now an ‘oven’, a human baby-making machine and all anyone wants to know is when I’m going to start producing.
More than just annoying, it is borderline offensive. I don’t remember publicly declaring that I want children, so why does everyone automatically assume that I do? Ignore the fact that nobody seems to recognise that this is a private matter between my husband and I, the question is never “Do you want children?” The automatic assumption is that being a woman, naturally I should want to be a mother. Apparently, my husband and I are not ‘complete’ until we’ve had a baby but the truth is I don’t feel incomplete. I am a young woman who loves her husband and loves her freedom. I enjoy going to the movies at midnight, travelling to exotic places, and hitting the bars on a Friday night. My life is full of amazing people from wonderful friends to inspiring authors, and if there’s a void, so far I’ve done an excellent job filling it with delicious food and cocktails at the weekend sans the desire to alter my life in any way. I’ve tried explaining this to various people in my life who have children only to be met with condescending smiles that suggest I don’t know my own feelings. I’m tired of being made feel as though there’s something wrong with me if I don’t want to have a baby, or that without one my life is somehow less fulfilled. Aren’t Chris and I being responsible by not having kids? Is the world not full of children born to people who either didn’t want them or who weren’t ready for them?
Perhaps none of this would be so shocking if it weren’t for the fact that we are living in what is fast becoming a matriarchal world. Some of the most powerful leaders in the world today are women; the German chancellor, Angela Merkel; the U.K prime minister, Theresa May; the United States first female presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton. Even South Korea with a predominantly patriarchal society managed to elect their first female president. Beyonce is ringing in my ears “Who runs the world?” Girls! We live in an exceedingly feminist world where reporters are labelled as ‘misogynistic’ and ‘anti-feminist’ if they make the mistake of referring to women as ‘girls’, yet the mere suggestion that a thirty-year-old married woman doesn’t want children is enough to leave society scratching its head..
When are you going to have a baby? I’m so bored by the question. Its sheer lack of originality and lazy attempt at showing ‘genuine interest’ in a someone’s life just puts me in a bad mood. Perhaps just as intrusive but a little more original, wouldn’t a more intelligent question be “What kind of mother would you like to be?” At least it gives pause for thought.
I sometimes wish that I didn’t want children just so I could prove my own point that not every woman wants to reproduce. However, I do want children; I just don’t want them yet. I’m still busy working on myself. I carry on my shoulders the weight of knowing that my future daughters will look to me for an example of what a woman can achieve in today’s world. Okay, so, I’ll never be president, and I highly doubt I’ll make the history books, or that anyone will remember my name, but I can teach them that travelling the world is an immensely eye-opening, rewarding experience and one that does not equal being poor, I can show them that being a woman does not equal any kind of weakness, or that becoming a mother doesn’t mean sacrificing the opportunity to be successful.
So yes, someday I will rock maternity wear and give my 'Mother of Dragons' t-shirt a much cooler context, but until then, leave me the hell alone and trust that when I am finally pregnant I'll tell it in my own time. In other words, mind your own business and stop asking.
Oh, and for future reference so as to avoid any awkward miscommunication, "You touch the bump, I punch the throat".