ILLUSTRATED BY SYDNEY HASS.
It’s not that I don’t like babies. Some of them are quite cute in fact. It’s just that I’m a woman of a certain age (ahem, 33), I’m married (for nearly five years), and
my mother everyone wants to know when I’m having a baby. And, I mean everyone. My extended family. My friends. My coworkers. The random employee at the bank helping me refinance my one-bedroom apartment. Everyone.
I hate it. And, I do my best to try to avoid the question altogether. Whether I’m at a family function or Wednesday night's book club, I’ll immediately grab a beer or glass of wine so no one has a second to wonder if I might be pregnant.
I also try to avoid falling into the cute-baby trap. Oh, someone’s bringing their super-adorable six-month-old to the office? That’s nice. I hardly look up from my computer. I will not be among the women battling to hold the cherub-faced infant. At a recent birthday party for a perfectly nice one-year-old, I did not fawn over the toddlers crawling at my feet. And, I certainly do not coo over babies in public. Except for every once in a while, when there is a particularly sweet one who catches my eye — and then I will whisper to my husband oh-so quietly, “I want that one.”
Because, the truth is, I do have baby fantasies. After all, I am well into my thirties. My so-called biological clock is ticking — I can hear it loud and clear. And, when I have a quiet moment alone, I like to imagine all the fun things I would do if I had a child. I daydream about weekends in the park with my husband and our daughter (yes, my fantasies are gender specific). I picture trips to the MoMA with my mom and summers in Cape Cod. Our family of three will be snug and cozy and sweet and loving. We’ll sing silly songs and share lots of hugs and inside jokes. I won’t be a supermom, but I will love the heck out of my kid and do everything in my power to give her a happy childhood.
Of course, since this is just a dream, there are no dirty diapers; there’s no exhaustion from lack of sleep or worry over the price of preschool; there are no fevers or coughs or runny noses or vomit. There is no ugly reality.
ILLUSTRATED BY SYDNEY HASS.
These are secret fantasies, though. I don’t usually share them with anyone. (Except, you know, the entire Internet.) Because, once you begin talking about babies, the floodgates open. It’s instantly assumed you want one — maybe you’re even actively trying to have one. Which, let’s be clear here, I am not. I am not trying to get pregnant. And, some days, I’m still not sure I even want to have kids.
But, at the core of my hate-like is not whether or not I want to have a child. It’s the rudeness of the question, When are you having a baby? What if I was trying to get pregnant, and I couldn’t? What if I woke up every morning with a pain in my heart, because it was another day without a child? And, you, bank-teller-I-don’t-know, decided it was okay to ask me a seemingly innocuous question that’s actually quite loaded.
Or, what if my husband and I ultimately choose not to have kids? What if we decide we want to have a childless life full of travel and independence and seemingly fewer worries? Why should we endlessly be fending off questions about our lack of progeny?
In full disclosure, I struggle with the desire to ask these questions, too. I had dinner last month with an old friend who just got married. And, I found myself asking about her plans for a family. I felt like a total hypocrite afterward. Because, honestly, if she wanted to discuss it, chances are she’d bring it up. Right?
So, I’ve made myself a promise not to ask anymore. I’m going to do my best to avoid all the other annoying questions I’ve tried to dodge over the years. Are you seeing anyone? Have you found a job? When are you going to get married?
You might think there will be nothing left to talk about. But, I assure you that’s not the case. We can chat about last week’s episode of Mad Men, the latest celebrity gossip, work dramas, and upcoming summer plans. After a few drinks, maybe I’ll feel relaxed enough to open up about something a little more personal. Of course, if I’m drinking, I’m definitely not pregnant. Sorry, Mom.