There is something in our human nature that makes us inquisitive.
That makes us want to know about people. Hands up, I am hugely curious about people too.
Many of us also ask those questions that when I was growing up seemed normal. But now seem invasive and quite frankly old fashioned.
“Are you married?”
“Do you have kids?”
Why does it matter so much what that answer is?
Yet it seems that if the answer isn’t what we have been taught to expect then it’s a surprise and our instant response is either an even more inquisitive “why” or a pitiful “I’m sorry”.
Why are you sorry? Sorry for asking, or sorry as a reaction to a response you were not prepared for?
I am nearly 38 and not married and I very publicly advocate my experiences of MRKH and also childlessness.
Yet because of this from society’s perspective I am something of a curiosity. That somehow I am not pursuing what society thinks that I should be doing and therefore there must be something wrong rather than me choosing to pursue this life.
Because why would I not pursue the life that society imagines?
If we take the question of having children for a second…
Whether you want children, are trying, you aren’t there yet or that is not in your future, these questions can hurt.
Why? Because, what you see on the outside doesn’t even come close to what people are going through and our own personal choices or path.
It doesn’t even scratch the surface.
For those who see children in their future, don’t think we don’t try, we don’t explore and we don’t fight but this is often a silent and very private struggle and the outcome is not always what we hoped for.
Which makes it that much harder to change societal thinking because being open about this and changing perceptions takes time.
Infertility IS hard.
So when is it ok to ask?
Put it this way…When is it ok to ask when you know nothing about what the person who you are asking is going through or how the response may leave them feeling?
Despite our curious human nature it is quite frankly none of your beeswax whether I have children or not, plan to or not, or any of the reasons for that unless I want to share that information.
Yet at the same time I know society takes time to take into account the world as we know it today and we will still get these questions, among others, which can be hurtful and invasive, even if often well intentioned.
I choose to take the opportunity to use it as a teaching moment.
These questions don’t make me angry or upset in the way they did many years ago. It is more sad that society has not caught up with itself to think that these questions are not ok or that there are much less personal questions that are more acceptable.
So I just find my narrative to respond to the specific situation depending on how much I want to share at that time.
My personal business means my story, my way.
But less of the pity please.
I don’t share for pity I share to present my perspective, my experiences.
I share for education that what we are taught is not the only path.
If you don’t know what to say when you hear an answer that you aren’t prepared for then thank that person for sharing that with you, offer them a listening ear if they need one.
Do not, as an old boss did to me, tell them how lucky they actually are as being pregnant is overrated and they aren’t missing out. Because for many who are infertile this means everything to them.
Unsolicited advice can be well meaning but with the deepest respect, we will ask if we need it.
Being lucky just doesn’t come into it.
I’m not lucky to be infertile.
But I am lucky to have a happy and fulfilled life and a wonderful support network.
So I urge you to stop and think before asking those deep and personals in the future.
To think about really why are you asking that, what you will achieve by doing so and what impact it can have.