It is not lost on me that I am of appropriate birthing age. I know this because over the course of my early 20s, I have been asked by people – some that I know well and some I barely know at all – whether or not I want to have a baby. I have such a deer-in-headlights response every single time.
I have absolutely no idea how to answer this question when it’s posed to me. I am a mere spring chicken at 23 years old. I have barely lived a life. The idea of having a newborn baby right now is hilarious to me because I am still a newborn baby myself. Well, I might as well be, at least. I don’t know how to use the oven in my kitchen and I have never used a lawnmower.
The day before payday I typically have no more than $1.33 to my name. I once spent $130 on a pair of athleisure slides designed by Rihanna and couldn’t buy food for a week. I make poor financial decisions and I’m about as handy around the house as a broken socket wrench. I am barely hanging by a thread as an Adult Person. What is it that makes people think that I am qualified to answer such a question?
Also, raising a baby is very pricey. Do you have any idea how much one baby will set you back over an entire lifetime?
A lazy poke around on Google tells me that it is roughly $812,000. Eight hundred and twelve thousand fucking dollars. There are far too many ways an idiot 23-year-old woman could better spend that money than on a dumb, drooling baby. Not that babies are dumb on purpose – I guess their brains aren’t yet evolved to the point that they can engage in intellectually provocative conversation. But that’s neither here nor there.
If you are silly enough to ask, “What might you instead devote your thousands of dollars to, Sarah?” let me lay it out for you.
I could buy a knife set encrusted with rubies. I could buy a Lamborghini and have it upholstered with fuchsia-died Mink fur. I could buy toilets adorned in Swarovski crystals and have them placed in every room in my house. I could buy a personal assistant contractually obligated to give me daily pedicures and play light, jaunty jazz tunes on the saxophone. I could buy a family of capuchin monkeys so that I can feel less alone when nosey people quiz me on the future plans of my uterus.
I could keep going, but I think this is enough information to tell you that a baby is not something I am even in position to entertain on a theoretical level. I mean, I just compared the financial investment of a living, breathing baby to a set of ruby-encrusted knives.
My uterus and I would very much like the questions regarding our future together to stop, and not just because I don’t have all the answers for you. I don’t like the way that intrusive questions like this make me feel.
I especially don’t like that such a personal question seems to be a perfectly innocuous topic of discussion in the eyes of so many. It’s not as if you’d ask someone in casual conversation if they’d recently had sex with the exhaust pipe on their Honda Accord. My reproductive plans are for me to worry about, not you.
Not to mention, you have no idea what my situation is. A simple glance at my body will not allow you to accurately deduce if I’m even physically capable of bearing a child. Maybe I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome? Maybe I had uterine cancer and had to have a hysterectomy at a young age? Maybe my fallopian tubes were damaged during a sword fight and I feel humiliated that I am incapable of doing something that should come naturally to me? Did you ever consider that? Do you think it’s fair that I am now hypothetically confronting this fact with somebody that I am not comfortable discussing it with?
The next time someone asks me if I want to have a baby, I’m going to tell them: “Oh, I’m unable to have kids. But I’ve had a few years to mourn the baby I’ll never have, so…” The way I see it, lying and saying that I’m barren does not make me a bad person. If anything, it is the person asking me the very inappropriate question that deserves to feel at least a little bad.
I mean, if they weren’t sticking their curiosity where it didn’t belong, we wouldn’t have found ourselves in such a weird area. Asking women about their reproductive plans is a practice that we have been conditioned to politely tolerate for far too long. If this is the most effective way to way to take the topic off the table for discussion, then so be it.
If the problem is that you were just scrambling for small talk topics and accidentally tumbled on this controversial nugget, maybe just try and ask us about our favourite flavour of Ben & Jerry’s instead. It’s still a nuanced, hot-button topic, but not one that will end in an awkward silence and a blunt axe pierced through your left elbow.