Mother’s Day is upon us – it’s a glorious time to celebrate the amazing women who have given of themselves – their bodies (weather or not they carried the child), their love, their time, their everything else – to their respective little people. Moms are clearly the hardest working people on planet earth. They do the impossible. They are essentially superheros in erryday clothes.
Now, on the millennial spectrum of age, I have reached “people ask me incessantly about the goings on of my womb” years old. For whatever reason, Mother’s Day is the day people like to inquire the most (not that it doesn’t happen every other day of the year, this day tends to be the highest in comment volume). I know I’m not the only one who’s had this experience.
I think people don’t always realize the power of their words and the way they affect others. Take note: if you have said any of the following, the point is not to bash you or make you feel bad, it’s simply to help you understand where others might be coming from – here are some things to stop saying to women who don’t have kids:
Are you pregnant now/yet?!
This has happened to me a couple of times. Someone will come up to me and ask me this question…loudly….in front of other people. Each of those times I was not, obviously.
Well – first it’s awkward when it’s someone I don’t really know all that well. It’s super weird when someone calls attention to your midsection – I guess, mine was bloated at the time. But beyond that, it’s just an invasive question that no one wants to answer in front of people. And if she’s not preggers, you’re just telling the world you think she’s got a little chunk going on.
Consider that’s not really something she may want to talk about, especially in front of other people, and that’s ok. There are a variety of reasons for that, some of which we’ll get into below.
Why Don’t You Have Kids Yet?
I have been asked this and seen some of my friends get asked as well. Some of those women are desperately trying to have kids with their husband and have been for years and don’t need reminders they have not yet been successful. There are also women who are medically unable to have children – for some it’s the biggest heartbreak of their life & for others they have made peace with it. Perhaps she miscarried and is still healing. Either way, I have seen them put on the fake smile they’ve had to perfect over time and make up some response to brush it off.
It’s also very assumptive. “Yet” implies that it is something the person is planning on doing. You don’t know that unless you’ve had a conversation. And if they don’t know your name and/or you don’t have a friendship (like a real life one where you have and use each other’s phone numbers) honestly, they may not care to have that particular conversation with you. Not that you’re not awesome, it can just be a loaded topic.
I know it seems like a simple question, but it can carry a lot of weight with it.
Better hurry! You’re Not Getting Any Younger!
The last person who said this to me was a MAN! It took everything in me not to karate chop him straight in the jugular. Please – for your health – NEVER utter this sentence to a woman about ANYTHING.
But, in the event that someone has been trying to have kids for a while, this sentence is so heart crushing. She knows that. She probably thinks about it frequently. But, truth be told, women can have kids at lots of ages and be just fine so that line of thinking is a bit antiquated.
In the event she doesn’t want kids, she still probably doesn’t want to hear that you think she’s old.
Some women just aren’t in a rush. I know it sounds crazy, but for some, they have their timing of when they are going to try and it may be a little later – perhaps having kids is not her only goal in life (gasp…I know!). Calling attention to her age is just unhelpful all around – and dangerous. Watch out for karate chops.
“Wait as long as possible to have kids. Once they are here they ruin your life/body”.
“Once they come your life is over”.
“Don’t ever have kids!”
“We want you to be miserable like the rest of us.”
Again, if the scenario is that she wants them and, if on top of that, she is having trouble conceiving – this is just further twisting that dagger. It’s always difficult when someone has the thing you long for with all of your heart and you have to hear them complain about it or take it for granted.
In the event that she is apprehensive about having kids, say she deals with mental health issues like anxiety or depression, you telling her how bad her life is going to be is doing nothing but feeding her fear. Chances are in that situation she already has a lot of doubt about weather or not she can handle parenthood or weather her mental health would negatively affect these hypothetical kids – comments like these just throw water on the small grease fire that likely already exists in her brain.
We understand that being a parent is super hardcore. It’s difficult. I think that’s what these statements try to communicate. I want the women in my life to always feel they can be real with me, they can express frustration – but I’m not saying don’t be real, I’m saying be sensitive.
So what SHOULD you say to a childless person?
Well, unless you know them personally and have a relationship with them in which you talk about these things…. Probably nothing. I know, you’re just curious. But your curiosity is not their burden. They may already be bearing burdens of infertility, anxiety, fear, other people’s expectations or a whole list of other things. They just may not be ready to talk about that part of their life. Or they haven’t one iota of a desire to procreate. In any case, if your curiosity is getting the best of you, just ask Jesus.
If one of the women in your life does turn up pregnant this weekend or any time, feed her faith not her fear. Those of us on this side of the experience (of not having kids) get that it’s hard, it’s overwhelmingly what we hear. Tell her what’s wonderful about the experience. Tell her she can do it, even when it is difficult. Tell her what an amazing mother she is going to be and all of the ways her life is going to be awesome. Tell her how God has plans to prosper her, to grow her. Set her up to win.
Let’s take this Mother’s Day to lift up the ladies who deserve it. There is no shortage of women who can never be thanked enough for their daily sacrifice. And if you know a woman who this day is particularly difficult for, send her lots of extra love & support. Happy Mother’s Day to all you beautiful people. Celebrate accordingly.