Should People Stop Asking When Are You Going to Have Children?

As a recently married woman in my early thirties I often get well-intentioned people casually asking when I’m going to start having children. Also if I mention that I’m feeling sick or bloated the first conclusion is “Oh! You might be expecting.”

Whilst I understand that none of this is done with malicious intent there are only so many times I can smile and say “No, that’s not the case I’m just ill” or “If children happen that’s great but we’re just happy as we are right now.” and then carry on with my day unaffected.  Speaking to my husband reveals that he is rarely asked the same question which means that it is an irksome double standard.

Society seems to have trouble understanding women around the age of 30 that haven’t yet produced a child. There is even more head-scratching if that woman is married as many believe that the primary purpose of marriage is to have children. For me, and I suspect a few others, that is not the case. I married my husband because I love him and cannot imagine life without him. If children happen to enter into our future then that’s great but if they don’t then that’s okay too.

Thanks to my social conditioning I feel guilty for admitting that last part. It is true that most little girls grow up playing with dolls and assume that one day they might have a child of their own but the fact is that in reality it doesn’t always work out that way.

Some of my friends have children and I am happy for them and I find their kids adorable but I’m equally happy for my friends who don’t have children. Watching my parent friends is a great education into just how much having a child changes the way that you have to live your life. Everything with children has to be pre-planned until they are old enough for spontaneous days out and sleep becomes a thing of the distant past. Those of us without children are still able to decide what we want to do and where we want to go at any given moment and if we want a lie in we can have one.

I think it’s because of the lifestyle differences between those that have children and those that do not that both sides become a little less able to understand each other. Those with children naturally want everyone else to experience the joy of becoming a parent and those without are happily enjoying their lives also being free to do what they want when they want to do it.

Ticking Clock

The way society pressures women to have children can be quite demoralising. There are many articles in national newspapers warning that western women are leaving it too late which implies that a women who doesn’t have children is automatically failing her gender in some way.

What about the women out there who don’t want to have children? Are they failures too?
Some women are happy as they are whether in a relationship or not. Others accept that biologically it is not likely to happen and throw their energy into other aspects of their life. I remember reading the warnings about Career Women “missing their chance to become a mother” as they focused on their jobs instead and I always thought that it was an unfair assumption.

Maternity leave laws in the west, the USA in particular, are not very generous and are generally geared towards women being the ones to take time off work. Some countries have addressed this better and even the UK, where I live, is introducing legislation that will make it possible for both parents to share maternity leave should they so wish which should make it fairer on women although it might be an administrative nightmare for companies.

However workplace attitudes remain somewhat antiquated in places with a few managers secretly dreading an employee telling them that they want to take maternity leave. This can lead to some women feeling that they have to make a choice between family and career. Some businesses are more enlightened and offer flexible working contracts, to enable employees to balance their work and life better, but I know this is not the case everywhere.

Even if your place of work is accommodating, parents then have to deal with the astronomically high costs of childcare should they wish to return to work and leave their child in the care of professionals. Some are lucky enough to have family close by who can help out but many do not so cost becomes a factor as to whether a couple has children or not.

Another reason I think that people need to stop asking whether someone is planning to have children is that some people have trouble conceiving. For people in these situations this seemingly innocent question can be extremely distressing. People who long to have a child but cannot find such a personal question extremely hurtful. So unless you plan on being there to counsel the person that you ask, please just avoid the topic unless they bring it up first.

By asking such an intrusive question you are opening the door to an emotional torrent in some women’s heads.Whether this is because the person you asked doesn’t want children or hasn’t decided yet and is sick of being asked about it or they do want children but they are having difficulties conceiving, doesn’t matter. I think it is time we stopped thinking it is okay to ask such an emotionally loaded question and just enjoyed each other’s company.

~Kat

Additional Reading:
10 Things Never to Say to Childless Friends (MSN)

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Our Wedding: Family and Friends

One thing that was particularly special about our wedding was that it brought most of those we love, but do not often get to see, together in one place for a happy celebration.

Today families and friends are less likely to live in close proximity to each other and it is not unusual to have those we love living in four different corners of the world.

For me this is particularly poignant as my parents retired and went to live in Turkey a few years ago. It was wonderful for them to be reunited not only with me but with some family and friends that they might not have had the opportunity to visit otherwise.

It is life landmark times like this when you realise just how important family and close friends are to you. One of my good friends was not able to make it because her Mum was ill. Although I missed her presence on the day I more than understood her reasons. You only get one family in this life so you have to make the most of it.

I, for instance, would have given anything to have had my paternal grandmother present on the day but as all my grandparents have passed on this simply wasn’t possible. However I made sure she was there in spirit by attaching a picture charm of her wedding day to my grandfather to my bouquet.

One of the best decisions I made in regards to the big day was to get ready at home.
My parents were staying with us so, not only was it easier to have the bridal party all in one place, but it allowed our photographer Louie to capture some very special moments between my parents, bridesmaids Jem & Heather and myself.

Amongst those moments was the first time my Dad saw me in my dress. For any girl who is lucky enough to have her father still close to her this is one of those fairytale moments that you will remember for a lifetime.

Once we were all dressed and ready to go we shared a few celebratory toasts with some champagne brought by one of the bridesmaids. It was a great start to what would be a fantastic day.

Waiting for us at the venue, whilst our friends gradually arrived, were Roger’s parents and his best man Lanre. Roger’s parents and his sister Sandra have been very welcoming to me since we’ve been together and, as his Dad suffers with various ailments, we had kept the wedding as local as possible so he didn’t have to travel far.
It was great to see them all dressed up and enjoying themselves.

With everyone in place it was time for the formalities to commence. The pictures taken during our ceremony prove why it is so important to invest on a good photographer to capture the moment. When you are a part of it you are so caught up in the moment that it is hard to take in everything that is happening around you. Our photographers caught some touching reactions from our families and friends.

We also have a new appreciation for the work that they have to do with group shots. It is really hard to get everyone to gather when they need to and to look at the camera all at the same time. Dads it seems are particularly bad when it comes to looking at the lens! My Dad for example was intent on telling Rog’s Mum that he liked her hat so had to be told several times to face the right direction.

However some of the big group shots are my favourites from the day as they capture most of the people who were there. This is great for me as my memory isn’t the greatest so it’s a good reminder. It’s also fun to see everyone from our past and present standing together in support of us as a couple.

Although a few friends and family members somehow managed to completely avoid the camera, there were also some surprise shots that I’m glad were captured such as one of me with my Dad’s brother and his wife and one of Rog with his cousins and their kids.

Speeches are a traditional part of most wedding days and mine was no different. My Dad’s speech kicked off proceedings as soon as our meals were finished.  Although I’m surprised at how tame his speech was, my Dad is not known for holding back with his sense of humour, I’m still impressed that he managed to both flatter me and include the football team that both he and my Mum are avid fans of.

“…I must admit that I am the proudest dad in the world to have accompanied Katherine today. I think you will all agree she looks stunning!…This is where I am supposed to say a few embarrassing things about her when she was younger, but as she has probably, no, change that to definitely, got more against me, so I am saying nothing!… We are both happy she has someone who she loves and is loved in return. I am so glad to still be alive to celebrate three events. Here they are in chronological order Our beloved Chelsea winning the Champions league (eat your hearts out, Spurs and Arsenal); Andy Murray winning Wimbledon; And todays Wedding. To Katherine and Roger I wish them enjoyment for today, the fulfilment of the hopes and dreams for tomorrow, and love and happiness always…”

Everyone at our wedding seemed to get along well and had a good time. I’m still feeling thankful about the good vibe that lasted all throughout the day and just wish that we could do it all over again.

To all our friends and family, including those that were not able to be present, never forget that we are thankful to have you in our lives and even if we don’t say it enough, we love you and appreciate you all very much.

~Kat

Our Wedding: The Bridesmaids

For any Bride-To-Be choosing who you want to accompany you on the journey is a special but also difficult moment. Some of us choose our family, sisters, cousins etc. Others feel pressure to choose the family members of their intended and the rest of us choose from amongst our friends. I’m definitely in the latter category partly because I don’t have any sisters or pushy new family members but mostly because there are certain friends in this life who know you better than you know yourself and love you just the way you are. They are also the ones who will be there for you no matter what. Heather and Jem for me are two of these friends.

But that doesn’t mean that choosing was easy. One other friend in particular took my choice, or rather the way she found out about it, quite badly. I knew that she would flip when she found out I wasn’t choosing her so I simply didn’t tell her. In hindsight I realise this was pretty stupid but honestly I just didn’t want the drama. Sadly it meant an end to our friendship and because of this my advice to the friends of any Brides-To-Be is do not assume that you will be asked to be a bridesmaid, just be there for her no matter what capacity that is in.

Some of the best advice I personally received during this process was that you need people around you who are going to keep you calm. Getting married, whilst a wonderful celebration, can also be a little stressful. In light of this, Jem was an obvious choice because she has been through it herself, I had been one of her bridesmaids, and she and I just get each other on a level that it is hard to attain with most people. As for Heather, she’s known me since I was seven years old and we have an amazing shared history together, she is also like a second daughter to my parents. Both of them feel closer to me than friends. I don’t know what its like to have a sister but the way I think of them can’t be too far off the mark.

1956 Armstrong Siddeley Limousine from Classic Wedding Cars
Click the picture to go to the website

Between them I knew I had everything I needed to support me along the way to my marriage to Roger.  They threw me an awesome weekend-long hen party in central London and I shared all my planning ideas with them.  We made sure, despite none of us living nearby, that we got together a couple of times just to chill out and enjoy a few bottles of wine after shopping for dresses and shoes.

Talking of dresses, after traipsing around traditional department stores and various shops it soon became obvious that the same dress was not going to suit them both. We also wanted to find dresses that would compliment the retro style of my own Candy Anthony dress. With this in mind Jem pointed me in the direction of Vivien of Holloway (VoH) and Heather and I made an Saturday appointment to see them. Jem couldn’t join us for the first appointment but she and I would later return separately.

Although not a dedicated wedding shop, VoH does have its own line of wedding dresses and is used to brides shopping for their maids outfits too. They specialise in 1940’s and 1950’s style clothing reproduction and have a shop on Holloway Road in North London. The staff in the shop helped us to first figure out what size we would be, their sizes are not the same as high street sizes and concentrate most on your waist measurement, and then helped us into some of their lovely dresses in the fitting room.

We eventually found two Royal Blue dresses of different styles that complimented each other and suited them down to the ground. Both Heather and Jem looked fabulous in their respective dresses and for Jem and me the experience sparked a new addiction. We have both since purchased again from VoH. Jem ended up with a halterneck circle dress in Royal Duchess and Heather found a classy sarong & bolero covered in golden dragon print. We also bought a white belt and flower to break up the block colour on Jem’s dress. It was then down to them individually to find some shoes and jewellery to match.

On the wedding day I felt calmer as soon as my girls arrived. Without realising it, up until that point I’d started to worry about everything running smoothly. As soon as they appeared I felt so much better.

Whilst we were all having our hair and make-up done Heather gave me a couple of very thoughtful presents. One was a real horseshoe which she had decorated. This is extra special as she keeps horses herself and we used to go riding together when we were younger.

The second was a cute picture with cats on it with the caption “Purrfect for Each Other”. It might seem cheesy but I like it a lot as I was brought up with lots of different cats for pets and I still love them to this day.

 

Jem and my Mum were the people who helped me into my dress whilst Heather was having her makeup done. Once we were both ready we sat on my sofa playing with our puffy skirts. It was entirely too much fun and, just like me, Jem could not stop spinning around in her circledress!

When we were all ready and waiting for the car to arrive, our photographer Louie took a shot of the girls with my parents and myself in our back garden. It’s probably one of my favourite group shots from the entire wedding. An explosion of colour against a bland background created by some of those nearest and dearest to me.

Once we arrived at our wedding venue, The Cavendish in Eastcote, it was agreed that Heather and Jem would precede me down the aisle. I thought it was particularly touching that Jem put a reassuring arm on my Husband Roger’s as a signal of good luck.

At the wedding breakfast afterwards it gave me and Rog great pleasure to hand out gifts to Jem and Heather as a thank you for all their support. And although I didn’t expect the gift to make Jem cry, it certainly made the moment memorable!

Now was the time for them to relax and enjoy themselves and that they did. I’ll finish this entry with a few shots of Jem and Heather with their partners, Rob and Lee, and ourselves relaxing and dancing at the evening reception. Thank you ladies you are both stars to me.

~Kat

Related articles:
Our Wedding: The Bride (krazyangelkat81sobsessions.wordpress.com)