One of the rather uncomfortable side effects of marriage is the constant pressure to procreate. And the even more discomfiting fact is that this pressure comes from people you have never and would never discuss the mechanics of procreation with. Now, while I’ve been reasonably fortunate so far in dealing with the curiosity about my childbearing plans, that’s not what compelled me to write this post. It’s something a bit more disturbing.
After marriage, there is a host of people who enquire when you’re planning to “start a family”. And this always, imperatively, bugs me. No, not because it’s personal and nosey (which it is) but because it’s founded in falsehood. You see, I already have a family!
The basic understanding behind this question seems to be this – children and only children a family make. You need kids to come together as one unit. You need kids to introduce you to the wonders of a family. Your life before this, in all probability, has been lacklustre. It has simply been preparation for the big event that will give you a family – the birth of your children.
Now, my problem is this. I am not undermining the fact that kids transform the household. But what happens to couples who don’t want to have kids? (Hallelujah, there actually are such people!) What about those couples who cannot have children? And what about people who never get married? It would seem that all these people are doomed to live a family-less life. Their partners, parents, uncles, aunts, cousins and nieces are not really family, after all.
So, curious bystanders and observers of my life, I’d like you to remember two things:
First, whether and when I plan to have kids (not “issues” please) is an entirely personal affair between my husband and me and I don’t think anyone else needs to be privy to the details.
Second, if the first tenet is too hard for you to follow, please at least use these phrases in that order – 1. Do you plan to have kids? and 2. When?
I am blessed to have a loving family. If and when I become a mother, the child will join my family and yes, I admit, will likely become an important member of it. But he or she will join my existing family, not create a new one where nothing existed before.