Whilst I do enjoy hearing cute stories about people’s children, I am starting to tire of people talking to me in a way that assumes there will be a point in my life when I have children myself. As I think most do, I have mostly pictured children in my future, and if you asked me right now, today, yes I would like one or two at some point. Then again, ask me next week and I may have changed my mind. I have not yet made the decision to have children and more than that, I am increasingly aware that, nature permitting, it is very much a choice, and perhaps one day I will decide not to have them. And that will need to be ok; with myself and with the rest of the world. Also, maybe I won’t be able to have children and then the choice will be taken out of my hands.
People seem to be aware of the issues and stigma affecting those who cannot have children, but not much is said about how it feels when others talk to you about “when” you have children – assuming that you want them and can have them. I say this not just for myself and about my situation, but also for the many many other combinations of situations and opinions of others. Some people may just not like being around children, some may prefer animals as “children”, some may find their life calls them to places and to make plans which simply don’t involve children.
I feel similar about being vegan actually. It’s a choice I’ve made, and since I made it, it has been eye opening to observe how most people assume that everyone else acts as they do and believes what they do. “What…. You don’t eat meat or have dairy?!!…. What do you eat?!!” The idea that there is another way, is often too much for people to comprehend – and of course, must be for weirdos (not for compassionate people of course – that’s a whole other blog!)
I often hear people say that not having children is something people regret when they get old. I find that quite assumptious, and quite offensive actually. As an only child, I often worry about being “old and alone”, but that fear alone is not a reason to have children. That would be like saying “oh phew, now you exist so I won’t be on my own”. I’m sure it is a lovely feeling to know that you have children who will be there for you when you’re old and infirm, but I wish people would think twice about pointing that out as a reason that someone should consider having children, because as I said, you never know someone’s feelings, reasons or history.
I cannot predict the future, nor would I want to, so I don’t like the feeling of social pressure that comes from others assuming that children are definitely in my future. Right now, I hope they are. But if not, I don’t want to be made to feel that my life is less full than theirs, because who knows what any of our futures hold.