You think, much as I once did, that the annoying questions will stop once you’re engaged. You think, having “landed a man,” that people will stop handing out unsolicited life advice and finally let you be happy, because—devil take it!—you’ve done what society wants, right? Not so, my dear yarn pouncers. You see, once the questions about your single status stop, The World starts in on
Welcome to pastel-wallpapered, pacifier-laden hell.
[For the purpose of dramatic recreation, The World will be played by italicized blue text, while the part of Grace will be sensibly vertical.]
We’re so excited for you and Professor McGregor, darling Grace! You must be so relieved that a man is deigning to marry you and your feminist ways. So, when are you having babies?
Not for a really long time. Like, at least five years.
Five years? Oh, my naïve Grace. Haven’t you heard how fertility works? Right now is the best/only time to have darling lumps of babykins!
Well, it’s not the best time for us. You see, the dear professor wants to get tenure first and I need to start and finish my residency. We just don’t have the time or resources!
Maybe you didn’t hear us correctly, sugar lump. If you don’t have babies in your twenties, you’ll give birth to horned horrors of children whose only forms of communication are shrieking and ritual sacrifices. We didn’t tell you this when you were single, just in case you were a spinster for another decade, but having babies in your twenties is crucial!
But we don’t want children yet. Every time a child screams in the grocery store, Professor McGregor and I high-five about not being parents. If we had kids now, I’d probably just hate them for the first year. I love sleep! My selflessness is really not developed enough to sacrifice it. We’ll chance the horns, thanks.
My dear, that’s how we all thought, until we had button-nosed mushy pea faces of our own. Once you see their wee, dear faces, you can handle all manners of trials. Sleep deprivation and never-ending screams are nothing, in light of your love! Why, the first time your spawn urinates on you is a moment to always be cherished!
We’re not ready for babies. Leave off.
But think of your grandmother, Grace. Doesn’t she deserve to be a great-grandmother?
My cousins, Alfred and Sage, have already taken care of that. We are totally absolved of any pressure!
But your father would love little ones to watch Notting Hill with!
My father would also love a dog. How about we get him one of those, instead? I’ve heard Labradoodles adore romantic comedies.
How can you be so selfish? Don’t you know that it’s your duty as a woman and a human being to have children? This is the next step, you callow girl. You’re supposed to get married and start a family. The species must propagate!
I call bullshit. On all of it. Are you ever suspicious that some people don’t actually have thoughts in their heads at all, but societal scripts they run through daily? That, perhaps, we’re surrounded by player pianos disguised as humans? After you get married, you have children, raise them, send them to college, then go tour the country in an RV, because you’re no longer needed until they have children of their own. That’s how it works! Once you deviate from said script, their wee little circuits explode. It’s all raised eyebrows and poor logic, instead of rational conversation.
Look, Professor McGregor and I want a family. Eventually. We want one when we’re financially and emotionally prepared. That seems super reasonable, to me. No one ever questions you about wanting to have children, only about not wanting to. How ridiculously backwards! The biggest life commitment you can make is the creation and care of another person. Shouldn’t that be treated with some degree of caution? Isn’t it the thoughtful thing not to jump on the baby wagon, just because we’re married?
Some people feel ready for children from the moment they reach adulthood. They are positive about their parenting abilities and the amount of love in their hearts. That’s totally awesome! They should be parents! I, however, have always known that I wanted children theoretically. Such as: One day, theoretically, I want to name a little girl Cordelia and teach her about feminism and Nutella! One day, theoretically, I will force bow-ties upon my son.
One day, however, has yet to arrive. Right now, I am emotionally ill-equipped and not financially stable enough to feel comfortable spawning. I don’t want to deal with the realities of children: the long nights, the diaper changing, the worries about how to raise them into socially-conscious adults who eat carrots and respect women.
At the moment, I just want to watch Psych with my love and eat a lot of cake. Is that so unreasonable?