“So, when are ya’ll going to have kids?”, one of our sweet guests asked me and Joe and in the receiving line after our wedding ceremony. We both looked at each other and laughed and Joe said, “we haven’t even figured out our honeymoon yet”. It was the weirdest thing, but we were warned that we would start getting those baby questions, we just didn’t think that soon LOL. Thinking back on that made me realize how often we are rushed through life’s seasons, whether we do it ourselves or the world does it to us. I have a few single friends and they have often spoken about how annoyed they get when people ask them when they are going to get married. My question in response to that is, what do people expect you to say, especially if you aren’t in that season? I don’t know how many times young adults are often told to enjoy their season, don’t be in a rush, wait on God and the list goes on, yet it’s somehow odd when a woman in her 30’s is single or a young married couple doesn’t have children. As Christians we know that God’s timing is everything and how important it is to trust that timing, except when it comes to marriage and children, right? One thing I’ve come to learn is that life happens at different times for different people and we can’t hold ourselves or anyone else to man-made timelines and cause people to feel shameful for not being on schedule or even wanting to adhere to said schedule. While we all know many people mean well, may have good intentions and these questions sometimes are just something to say in conversation, we do have to be mindful of what we say even if it is just small talk. Most of the time there’s no short easy answer as to why someone isn’t married yet or why they don’t have children.
I think it’s time to stop asking people, not just women because men get these questions too, when they’re going to get married or have kids or whatever other adulthood milestone there is because these are personal questions. They aren’t just small talk, “how are you doing”, “how’s the weather”, type questions. These are actually very loaded questions with many emotions, insecurities, personal decisions, uncertainties and self-doubt attached to them. We have to be mindful that there could be a reason beyond what we can see as to why a couple who’s been married for several years has yet to have children. We have to be mindful of how the single woman in her 30’s may be feeling in her waiting on God to bless her with a mate. We also have to be mindful of the hearts of men longing to be husbands or fathers and the insecurities they may be harboring but are unable to speak about it. We also have to be mindful of the couple who has chosen not to have children or the woman who’s chosen to be the “single cool aunt” the rest of her life. There are so many reasons why many of us aren’t where society or the biological clock says we should be, but nothing sucks more than being reminded that where you are isn’t good enough by the “when are you going to…” question.
I have been guilty of asking a woman when she was going to have a baby, not realizing at the time how that question might make her feel. The truth is that we don’t know what people are going through and how that seemingly simple question might make them feel. We don’t know who is dealing with infertility, miscarriage or health issues and how that question may bring up feelings of frustration and sadness. We also don’t know who has decided not to have children or to have them later in life and how that question may make them feel guilty for wanting to focus on their careers at this time. We don’t know who’s recently learned to be content in her singleness and that question of “when are you going to…” just brought back the feelings of insecurity and shame that she left at God’s feet.
To whomever reading this is tired of the “when are you going to…” question, just know I know how annoyed, frustrated, sometimes angry, shameful, worthless (and other emotions I can’t think of right now) you feel from time to time. It’s like you never know what to say when you get that question and I’m sure you make up something new each time – “whenever God says it’s my time”, “just waiting on God”, “hopefully soon”, “when you find out, let me know” (lol to lighten the mood). It’s almost like you have to rehearse what you will say when asked just so that your heart and mind is prepared and you don’t get in your feelings. It gets old and you just wish people would find other things to ask you about; you do have other things going for yourself, but it seems all people focus on is the fact that you are single or childless. Sigh.
To whomever reading this has asked the “when are you going to…” question, I get it. Sometimes we just want to know if a couple is planning to have children or if a single woman is on the road to marriage, but at the end of the day it’s none of our business and not our right to know, therefore we shouldn’t ask. If you’re close enough to the person then you already know where they are in life and how they feel about it, so you wouldn’t ask, but as for those of us who aren’t and do feel the need to ask.. don’t. If they feel comfortable enough they will tell you whether or not they desire to have children or get married or ask you to pray for them. Instead of asking such an intrusive question, ask them what exciting things they’ve been up to, connect with them on their interests, tell them what’s going on in your life. But let’s just all agree to stop asking people, women and men, “when are you going to…(get married/have a baby)”