I've been getting this question a lot, in regards to my decision to get pregnant and join the circle of Motherhood. My initial reaction was one of learned defensiveness where I just wanted to say "None of your fucking business" and leave it at that.
But, here's the thing. If I share my story maybe I can be a small deterrent in what people consider to be socially acceptable to pester women about. So, here's why I "changed my mind" about having a child.
You see... I didn't change my mind. Somewhere inside of me, I've always wanted to be a mom. I've known since I was a child that if I had a baby, I didn't want to find out what I was having before birth (and I'm not finding out). I've had names picked out since my teen, though they've changed and evolved now.
But, there were obstacles to overcome before I decided to bring a new life in to this world and be responsible for it. If you read my Painting the Feminine post titled The Noble Path you'll recall that I've only recently come clean about my fears of being barren due to a slew of medical issues. That fear was enough to have me tuck the want for a child somewhere down deep inside myself; I may have been a physical masochist during the darkest days of my depression, but I'd never have willingly hurt myself emotionally. It's not an exaggeration to say that at a certain point in my life, that level of disappointment could have been life threatening.
Which leads me to my second obstacle; there were a lot of emotional walls for me to tear down and a lot of healing work to do on myself. Some things may never be healed fully, such as being O.K. with people touching me or being in my personal space without my permission, but others could be and needed to be. I couldn't take care of a child when I still felt like I was responsible for taking care of my younger siblings, I couldn't take care of a child while I thought of family as nothing more than a hive of hurt and disappointment, I couldn't take care of a child while I was busy being terrified I'd turn in to my own parents and I sure as shit couldn't take care of a child when I was too much of an emotional nightmare to even take care of myself.
No one really asks you when you're going to have kids until you get married, so I didn't have to explain myself for a while. But once Joe and I were married, it seems everyone felt it was their personal duty to inquire about the emptiness of my uterus and when that may change. At first I just said, when I'm damn well good and ready.
Which should have been enough, but never seemed to be. Because these same people; family, friends, coworkers... would ask me repeatedly. Some would do it each time they saw me and others would keep a watchful eye on things like whether I was drinking wine or beer at parties and gossiping amongst themselves to see if I was pregnant.
Let me stop my own story here to make a very important point, which is the entire reason I'm going in to this: it is never and I mean NEVER acceptable or ok to pry this much in to someone else's personal life. If you chose to get knocked up at 24, 16, a week after you got married, before you were married, at the sperm bank - good for you. I respect your reproductive decisions but you and I aren't the same. Nor are we the same as anyone else. The choice whether or not to reproduce is an incredibly personal one and shouldn't be relegated to water cooler or family reunion gossip. You don't know what someone is going through or what their reasons are and to be completely honest and frank it is none of your fucking business, regardless of your relationship. And should you ask if someone is planning to have a child, take their answer at its face value and move on. Do not guilt them with wanting to be a grandparent, aunt, uncle or want your child to have a playmate. Emotional blackmail is one of the reasons so very many relationships of all sorts are in shambles, don't do it.
My answer of "when I'm ready" was never enough and people wanted to pry in to why I wasn't ready, when I would be ready or (my personal favorite line of bullshit) reminded me that I was getting old (I turned 31 17 days ago). I finally hit a wall with what I could take and refusing to dignify their inquiries with highly personal and private information, I began telling people that I didn't want kids and in fact, greatly disliked them.
That's right. I started telling family members and friends that I didn't like kids and never planned to have any, simply so they would shut up, leave me alone and let me get to the business of taking care of myself. When you think about it, that's a really sad situation. No one should have to lie to get people to respect their boundaries.
But I did. For years. And right up until the day I got pregnant there were only a dozen people that knew that I did, in fact, want children.
So to answer the question of "Why" or "What" made me change my mind... nothing did. Because it hasn't changed. I just have been dishonest with a large group of very intrusive people for a very long time in order to give myself the emotional space that I required but was consistently refused.
If you're in that group, or someone like them, I hope this will serve as a lesson to you and that in the future you will understand that not everyone is an open book and not everyone welcomes personal questions and prying. And that even if they're ok with your asking, please don't ever turn it in to a stalk and gossip situation, because that's really unnerving and creepy.
If I can get even one person to change a behavior by telling my own story, that will be enough. That's the biggest reason that I share personal stories about depression, fear, healing and other personal issues in this forum; to advocate and hopefully touch others in some small way. I'm much better at writing about them than I am at speaking about them and only share when the time and tone sits right in my heart and in my mind; never before I'm ready to do so.
Less heavy stuff on the horizon. Cross my heart. xox