I’m often asked, “How should I respond to my Facebook friends when they ask me when I plan to have a baby?” It’s both a simple and complicated question to answer, because technically the responses, “That’s not of your business,” and, “I don’t know,” work just fine no matter who you are.
Whether you plan to have kids or not (or aren’t sure, or are unable to, or happen to be allergic to children), it’s never polite to ask someone “when” she plans to have a baby. But that loaded question can actually be quite difficult to answer, especially depending on the circumstances and on who’s asking. If it’s an old family friend, or even a close friend who doesn’t mean to offend, it takes restraint not to reply with a GIF of a middle finger. And for those of us who have been asked that question more times than we can count, it begins to feel downright intrusive.
Last year I wrote a column about what not to say to your childfree friends on social media (or in general), and I think that subject should be discussed more in the blogosphere. There’s been so much talk in the past couple of years about women having it all, not having it all, being “too old” for kids or “too selfish” to want kids. It’s exhausting to keep up with the media tailspin, and women who opt out of having children are made to look like jerks or victims.
It’s an unfortunate aspect of our society that’s led to people popping the baby question like they’re asking what you’re having for lunch. After all, if the media has a right to talk about women’s uteruses, why shouldn’t your friend from junior high or your Great Aunt Sally, twice removed? They deserve to know!
Funnily enough, I started this column just before reading this post on the blog Young House Love over the weekend. It seems that “baby watch” has gone from running into acquaintances at the grocery store to Facebook comments and even to blog comments, with total strangers inquiring as to whether a blogger is pregnant.
I’ve had people ask me on my blog before, too, usually when I’ve shown some “sign” of “being pregnant,” like not posting for a week. One woman said, “Are you knocked up? I will laugh my ASS off when you realize that being a parent is actually hard. I hope you have triplets and we better not hear one word about your difficulties!” And others have asked me if I’m “on my period” if I appear to be in a bad mood. These are tried and true insults that men and women hurl when they’re trying to be “sassy,” and the comments can start to feel claustrophobic, not to mention depressing.
As a nation, we spent the better part of last year telling the government to stay out of our uteruses — but what about our friends and family, both on- and offline? If you’re me, you struggle not to use four-letter words in your replies, but in the spirit of being a Lady, I’ve compiled a few examples of people who politely told their friends and family that they’re not pregnant, not expecting a child, and/or not interested in having another child at the moment. May we all be so poised.
1. Way Too Many Punctuation Marks
Megan is a saint. She swats away Jenny’s obnoxious comment with a smile, and hey, she can take herself out for a drink to celebrate, too, any old time she wants.