I’m married without children. Please stop judging me.
“You better give that man a child.”
“You’re not getting any younger.”
“So, you don’t want to have kids…”
…Sound familiar? These are just a few things I often hear when someone meets me for the first time and they learn that I’ve been married for eight years, and currently do not have any children.
Their expectations. My life.
At different stages of life, people expect you to get married, have kids by a certain age, or have a certain type of career. God has a different plan for everyone, but oftentimes it’s based on their opinions and not your own, let alone God’s will for your life.
Just the other day I was talking to a woman about her decision to have a child after 35 (her son is now 4 years old). We instantly connected after sharing our experiences about being married without children, and how people will make you feel bad for waiting. She told me she received so much criticism about having a child after 35.
I, too, am often looked at as weird or odd, from people I hardly even know when I tell them we don’t have any children yet (keyword – yet). They automatically assume that I don’t want children when I tell them that I initially wasn’t in a rush to have children. They often respond with, “Oh, usually it’s the man who doesn’t want to have kids.” They’re not even aware of the fact that a lot of my initial hesitation was based on my experience as a child raised in a single-parent home.
Contrary to what some may think, I admire motherhood, and I adore children, especially babies. I will make any excuse to go and purchase baby stuff from the store. Little do they know that we’ve been praying about having children for some time now, but obviously God has a different plan.
I used to resist the idea of having twins (they run in my family), but I’m actually okay with the thought of potentially having twin babies now. Does it scare me at times? Of course, but I actually think it would be pretty fun…overwhelming of course, but still fun! I think motherhood is a unique and beautiful experience, and watching a live birth was probably one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life!
You never know someone’s story.
While I understand people have good intentions, it’s not always black and white when it comes to this conversation. One thing I’ve learned about being a woman is that you cannot live your life based on who or what everyone else expects you to be or do. As a married woman, I’ve also learned that you can’t try to make your marriage like everyone else’s. Plus, you never really know someone else’s full story, their circumstances, or what’s going on behind closed doors.
For example, consider the couple that’s trying to have a baby, but for some reason or another it’s not happening as soon as they’d like?
What about the couple who’s experiencing infertility issues? For some women, fertility is second nature for them, but for others it’s not as easy. I know couples who have tried for years and have tried everything, and they’re still waiting to have a baby.
What about the woman who has carried multiple babies, but has miscarried several times?
What about the woman who can’t get pregnant because of a serious health issue?
What about the woman who is in good health, but for some reason God hasn’t made it happen just yet?
For some couples, it’s about the timing. I can admit that I enjoy the quality time I spend with my husband. I enjoy the fact that we can have an impromptu date night whenever we want. I love that we can do things at home without interruption. Am I wrong for that? Call it selfish, but I would rather feel like that now instead of feeling resentful, because I rushed to do something just because that’s what was expected of me.
For others, it could be a matter of financial preparation. I know they say you can never be fully prepared for children no matter how much you try (and I actually believe that), and I believe God will provide, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will feel as prepared as others to have children. I know for a fact that if Eric and I had a baby during our first or second year of marriage, in the midst of the recession and everything else that we were dealing with, it would’ve added that much more stress to our marriage. Everything happens for a reason, and God’s timing is always perfect.
Besides, society doesn’t always make it easy, and the workplace environment isn’t always conducive, for working mothers (e.g., rising costs of daycare, lack of “mother’s rooms” in Corporate America, unpaid maternity leave, lack of empathy from managers or leadership, etc.). So, maybe some couples are trying to build a little more financial wealth in preparation for the future arrival of their baby.
For me, personally, my husband and I have come to the realization that we’ll have a baby when God is ready to send the baby, because we’re doing all that we can. For some people, that may be too personal for them to share. So, don’t put someone else in that position to have to answer that. Moreover, I say that to remind people that at the end of the day it’s really out of our control. It’s up to God. So, when people ask me what I’m waiting on, I simply respond, “God,” but in the meantime, we’re going to keep living our lives.
Please don’t judge and don’t assume.
All of us dream of success or picture our lives in some way or another as a: wife, professional, entrepreneur, housewife, or even a combination of these roles. All of us have different goals and aspirations, and come from different backgrounds, so, we can’t really judge others who choose to live their lives differently, or pressure them into doing what we want them to do. Besides, oftentimes, the same people pressuring you to have a baby, aren’t necessarily the same ones who will be around when you really need them.
I say all of this to say, please consider these things before judging or shaming those of us who have not yet been blessed with the gift of children. Whether a couple decides to have a child or not, it’s their decision. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it. It’s one thing to have an open and honest conversation with someone as it relates to having kids, but to have limited knowledge about someone and immediately question her as to why she hasn’t had children can come off as offensive and inconsiderate.
So, before you say to me or another woman, “You’re not getting any younger,” (as if we don’t know that already), “You better give that man a child;” before you assume that she doesn’t want to have children; or before you judge her for saying that she doesn’t want to have children at all, consider first her feelings and her privacy, because you never know what someone may be going through and it’s their life to live.