Saturday, November 1, 2014

12 responses that a childfree woman gets

I phone a dude, who doesn't know me quite well. We talk about stuffs related to work first, and end up discussing this and that. Then he asks what my husband does, and if ours was "an arranged marriage or a louue marriage." After I explain, he reluctantly asks how many children I have. I say 'nothing'.

Awkward silence. He clears throat, and says, "I'm sorry." He is really sorry. I smile, and I so want to tell him that he doesn't have to be sorry. But I choose to ignore it. Because almost everybody, who learns that I am childfree, struggles to digest it. Many find my response rude. Some find it naive. And a very few find it sensible.

The kind of reactions that my answer produces are funny, and sometimes annoying.

These are what folks usually say when they face the fact.

1. "Oh. You don't have a child. Oh."
This means, "Oh. You don't have. Interesting. I am curious. I want to know your story. But we are not THAT close yet. I will ask you this question again sometime soon."

2. "You don't have? Why are you wasting time?"
This means, "You moron. You are becoming old. You don't want to look like a granny to your own child."

3. "I'm very sorry."
This means, "I will include you in my prayers. Maybe, next summer, you will call me for your baby-shower."

4. "When are you planning to have? You guys have been married for ages."
This means, "WTF are you doing with your life! Having a child makes you look responsible. Do you even understand it? And you shouldn't miss motherhood. Becoming a mother makes you feel complete."

5. "You can never be independent all your life."
This means, "You will be lonely when you are done with life. You need to have children, because they will take care of you."

6. "Is everything all right?"
This means, "Do you need medical intervention? Is your husband cheating on you? Are you guys going strong?"

7. "Do you think your dog is your child?"
This means, "Stop anthropomorphising. Do you see how empty your life is without a human-child?"

8. "You guys are so different."
This means, "You are very weird."

9. "You don't like children?"
This means, "Do you think it's cool to hate children? Or not to have one? No. It's presumptuous. You think too much of yourself."

10. "Is your husband okay with it?"
This means, "Why are you being selfish? Why are you robbing him of his privilege?"

11. "You are going to change your mind soon."
This means, "You are so immature now. You will grow up soon. I really hope."

12. "Okay."
This means, "Fuck it. It is your life. I don't give a damn about it." I personally like this one though. :)

These responses and questions crack me up. Almost every time. Maybe, I have exaggerated here. But we must admit that so many of us haven't sensitised ourselves to others' non-standard decisions.

I look forward to the day when my answer would be received just as a piece of information, and not as an element that defines my identity.

Also, stealing a quote from one of my favourite articles on being childfree.
"[Legendary anthropologist] Margaret Mead suggested that the generative impulse could be expressed in other ways, such as passing ideas on to the younger generation through teaching, writing, or by inspiring example."