I used to be much more sympathetic to her plight. I used to get those comments all the time. Then, at 29, I got divorced. And people stopped asking.
If I had to guess, it’s because those same people who find it absurd that I would opt to not have children, find being unmarried at 30 a travesty. I’ve gotten a few delicate questions about relationships and my future “plans” but nothing like that I used to get. It’s akin to having a physical disfigurement. They don’t want to bring it up because they think it’s too embarrassing for me to discuss.
I can’t speak for people with actual disabilities, but being unmarried or being childless aren’t embarrassing secrets for me to hide away. They are decisions I made and stand by.
Last week, while having coffee with a colleague, I actually had the worst grilling about choosing to be childfree I’ve had in years. She tossed out all the tropes. “You’ll change your mind.” “You can’t know love without having children.” “Don’t you think it’s selfish?” “What if your boyfriend wants kids?”
My defense-of-a-choice-that-is-none-of-your-damn-business-and-doesn’t-affect-you-in-any-way debating tactics were a bit rusty to be honest. I nearly hid behind the “Well I guess never say never” line.*
Instead, I muscled up my newly minted thirty-one-year-old status and said
“I haven’t changed my mind about this since I was sixteen. No one that comes into my life is going to change my mind about this and if they try to, I don’t want them in my life. I have lots of people around me to love and who love me without having a parasite grow inside me of and spend the next years literally wiping its shit off of everything.”
And then I smiled and changed the subject.
*Side note: If you’re arguing in favor of someone having kids, and you hear this remark, you didn’t win. They are politely telling you to shut the fuck up so they can talk about something else.