In this amusing post, Samson Tesfaye, sheds light on what it means to jointly exercise agency in partnership with his wife. Underlining the theme of this blog in 2012, he poignantly encourages us to re-imagine the norms and expectations that we impose on others, men and women, that stifle spaces for expressing agency – the assertion of freedom to make effective choices and act upon them in spite of societal norms.
I really wonder if it is customary or a must to ask a person who recently got married “When are you having a baby?” “When is the little one coming?” Or looking at the belly of the woman to see any sign of pregnancy (at least as a man we have the chance to pass on this one).
It has been seven months since I got married. My wife and I had a lengthy discussion with respect to starting a family before getting married. We decided to wait at least for one year before having children. We are happy with the decision that we have made and enjoying our first year of marriage.
We believe that it is our right and decision when to have children and how many we want or plan to have. It will also depend on our plans and timing. But in the past couple of months, we have become tired and fed up of answering the question “So when are you having a baby?” Most of these questions come from distant family members, close friends and colleagues.
My wife has been specially the one who was being bombarded with the question repeatedly. In recent days it has become so much to handle. She has been unhappy about the continuous grilling question of “when are you having a baby?”
She was telling me how unfair it was for people to ask this kind of question. It is a very personal question that no one has the right to ask. Why do people ask this question? It is one of the reasons why I wanted to write on this subject. I saw how it has really made her feel sad and worried about the comments.
It is a very difficult question to answer, as mostly you wouldn’t be ready with an answer. The first thing that will come in mind will be a smile. If you say that you want to wait or say that we are thinking about it, then a list of advise on a having a baby will be offered. The list will include, “you are not getting younger”, “you will be a great mother”, “ you have a stable job, this is the time”, “it would be nice if we raise the kids together (these are usually the friends)”,” your husband is supportive”, the list continuous.
But the most basic question that people tend not to ask is “Do you want to have a baby?” “Or are you ready to have a baby?” One of my good friends who had been asked the question so many times said to me “I want people to leave me alone, and stop asking me this kind of question. It is my life and I will decide what to do with it.”
The other day I was at my mother’s having lunch (you know missing mom’s cooking). One of her friends was there and was asking me the famous question “when are you having a baby?” He was saying that “My son just had a baby. He married after you and he is already a father.” Having a baby in 5 month? Well you can do the math when it started or you never know what happens with the technology nowadays.
My mother who was present in the room and hearing all this, said to me, “There are three things that one should never ask a married couple. The first one is “Never ask ‘When are you going to have a baby’?” The second one is ‘What does your husband or wife do for a living?’ The last one is ‘How much does your husband or wife get (in terms of monthly income)?” My mom stressed on this point, as she is a big advocate of not interfering on this is kind of very private matter. She said that one should respect the privacy and decision of couples and individuals.
I was asking myself why people ask this very sensitive question. Do people have the right to interfere in your life? One might argue that it is out of love and care that people ask this question. But still, starting a family is not something that one does for fun or because friends or family members have done it.
I read an article, which discuss what couples should consider before deciding to have children. “As a couple, you should consider your feelings about children, time management skills, your finances, and your goals for the future. Ask yourself whether you like kids, whether getting pregnant would disrupt your careers and how that would make you feel, and whether you could afford a child. (Kids can be pretty expensive, even in the early years.) Are you emotionally, physically, and financially prepared to bring a baby into the world?
The article continues “Another important question to ask is whether your marriage is strong enough for pregnancy and child rearing. Sometimes, couples think that a baby will solve all their problems. In reality, a baby adds stress to the relationship. A baby needs your constant care and attention, and he or she will get in the way of alone time for the couple. There will be fun and satisfying moments – when baby says his first word or falls asleep with your finger in his hand. But there will also be moments of panic – when he won’t stop crying no matter what you do or when he gets his first fever.”
I want to say that, one shouldn’t be expected to explain these reasons to anyone. It is an individual’s or couple’s decision. If one has a child, it is the couple’s responsibility to raise the child. I really want people to stop and think before asking the question “When are you having a baby?” Is it really your business whether your friend or colleague has a baby? If someone wants to discuss having children with you or wants your advice on the subject, they will ask. If they don’t ask, there is a reason.
I am not saying that it is not a blessing to have children. It is probably one of the best gifts a married couple or anyone could have. What I want to stress is that starting a family must be something that should be planned.
As the saying goes “when you’re single, people ask about boyfriend, when you have a fiancé, they ask when is the wedding. When you get married, they ask when you will get pregnant. When you already have one, they ask when the little brother or sister coming along. The reason for having a third child is he or she will act as a mediator when the sisters or brothers have a fight. When you divorce they ask why? If you try to move on, they ask why so quickly?”
People will never stop asking… so you should always stand for your right and if you are not happy with the comments people make, tell them to mind their own business,
I close with my favorite motto: “Be Happy Life is So Short to be Sad” so enjoy life as you only live once in this world. Have a great day.
Samson is a communications and event management consultant. He is happily married.
Love & Light