This is a piece I wrote in January 2012 that I’ve decided to share for Throwback Thursday. The only thing I tweaked would be the amount of time my husband and I have been married so that it’s now the correct amount. While my views on whether we want children may have changed since then, I still believe it is a woman’s right to not have children if she does not want them and that there is nothing wrong with not wanting children despite popular public opinion. Beyond even the issue of babies or not, I think this piece may speak to the problem of people’s meddling in private affairs. No, it is not alright to critique someone on his/her size; it is not acceptable to critique someone on his/her profession of choice; it is not welcomed to critique someone on sexual orientation, reproductive rights, and general political views. There is a time and place to broach these topics if necessary (example: between two friends), and that time is hardly ever appropriate for a stranger no matter what good this person may think he/she is doing. Perhaps we would have a bit more harmony in our society if we could just keep our noses out of each others’ business unless welcomed in at the beginning. *Steps off soapbox.*
When Are You Going to Stop Having Sex Just for Fun and Do It For a Purpose?
I know this isn’t specifically what people are asking us when they bring up the fact that my husband and I have been married for three and a half years and still don’t have children, but it may as well be. Why are my ovaries such a fascinating topic of discussion? It used to be my hobbies, my interests, my mind, or, hell, even my makeup or my hair. Now, it’s my barren uterus. Even people who I just met find my ovaries up for discussion when they find out I’ve been married for over three years. It should no more be a question than for me to ask what’s your favorite sexual position or, worse yet, if your husband can still get it up in the bedroom. It’s personal, it relates to our intimate relationship, and it’s not something I share with everyone. Give it a rest, general public.
Not only do I not want to share it, but sharing details about getting pregnant just creates awkward situations. For instance, I had an experience at my previous job before substituting that I wrote down in my journal, and it went a little something like this:
“Crystal, you should be the next one to get pregnant at the bank. You’re the youngest, and the rest of us already have kids,” my co-worker informed me of her thoughts for my future.
“My husband and I are good with our life like it is right now. Kids just aren’t in our plans at the moment,” I replied, hoping to stave off the co-worker.
“Nonsense. Kids are in everyone’s plans eventually. How old are you, Crystal? Pretty soon, you won’t be able to have kids.”
“I’m twenty-seven, and Hans and I are happy with our dog, Bella. She’s enough of a child for us right now,” I said, praying this would be the end of it.
“Dogs don’t count as children. In fact, once you have kids, you won’t even want a dog. You better start having babies now before you get any older,” Mrs. Know-It-All informed me.
Luckily, a customer walked up and ended our conversation. Although this conversation was plenty awkward for me by putting down my love of my dog, offhandedly calling me old, giving me unwanted advice, and generally butting into my personal life, I could have flipped the tables and made it awkward for my co-worker. When she told me that I should be getting pregnant, I could have gone into detail about my sporadic cycles, my former issues with birth control, and my possible trouble with ovulation. Then I imagine I would have burst into tears in front of the entire bank for dramatic effect. Now who feels awkward?? Everyone in the room.
Forget whether my body is in tip-top shape or not for pregnancy. What if my husband and I just don’t want children? Why is that such a bad thing? Wasn’t the whole feminist movement about a woman’s right to choose? What happened to that? When we say we just don’t want kids rather than getting into the whole “my wife’s ovaries have run up the white flag” thing, we get looks of mortification. Most people treat that like we’ve said Voldemort aloud or—pun intended—dropped a baby. Why do babies equal self-worth? Carrie Bradshaw looked pretty happy in Sex and the City with Mr. Big, and there were no babies involved. Just a woman and the man of her dreams…and a few dozen pairs of awesome shoes. (Yes, I know this was just a movie, but I have known couples throughout my life that are content without children. I chose this fictional relationship, though, because it seems to be one that most are familiar with.) I’m pretty sure I could find a life of contentment without having babies. Just ask Julia Childs, Oprah Winfrey, Bettie Page, Katherine Hepburn, Helen Mirren, and Kim Cattrall.
So I guess the question behind this whole piece is… When did I stop being Crystal and start being defined by my uterus and what is NOT inside of it? Do I really have to be defined by my ovaries? I gave up my beloved last name; do I have to give up my body, too?