I’ve haven’t yet been married a full month, but already we’ve been asked ‘the next logical question’ – several times: ‘So, when are you going to have kids?’
It didn’t help that we went to a baby shower on the weekend, where the having of children was a conversational mainstay around the snacks table. The first time it happened, I stuck a carrot stick in my mouth, mimed my inability to speak and turned to look at my husband. ‘Well, um, I’m not sure that it’s, uh, environmentally friendly… There are quite a lot of people on the planet already,’ he replied, squirming. I swallowed hard and widened my eyes at him, which is code for ‘WTF!’ It was, after all, a baby shower. Environmentally unfriendly? Was that the best he could do?!
There followed an uncomfortable silence before the poor guy (unmarried, religious) who’d asked the question admitted he really did want children and, not being married, was worried he’d miss out.
There followed a decidedly awkward silence, during which I made a mental note to prepare, and rehearse, a diplomatic answer to this question. Because how do you say no, you don’t want a child without sounding judgemental of those who do? ‘It’s just not for me’?
The truth is that we really don’t what we want. We have no immediate plans to mix our genes, but we haven’t completely ruled it out, either. And the kind ambivalence I feel at the thought of reproducing doesn’t translate well in small talk. Reply too quickly in the negative, or mumble an evasive and you’re met with a raised brow (which is code for ‘Oooh, there must be something wrong’).
My strategy for now is a swift U-turn: ‘Dunno. How’s the new job?’
It’s not foolproof, but it seemed to work well enough for the rest of the afternoon.
Now I just have to work out what to tell my mother…