I had been drafting a post for Mother’s Day, attempting to be flowery and elegant with the language.
But I scraped the idea in the 11th hour, and I’m going to get straight to the point.
Let’s make a collective resolution this Mother’s Day to stop inquiring about people’s family planning.
You know, things like:
“When are you going to have kids?”
“You better hurry, your clock is ticking!”
“That baby looks good on you! You need one of your own!"
“When are you going to have your next kid?”
“You don’t want kids…are you sure?"
“You really should have more than one. They will be friends!”
All of it.
Let’s STOP IT.
As most of you know, from 2011 - 2013, Carl and I treaded in the waters of infertility (although, it mostly felt like I was drowning).
It was probably the most mentally taxing experience I’ve ever faced - yes, even more so than cancer. My feelings were all over the map, but it wasn’t something I talked about publicly.
These kinds of questions (all of which I received from very well-meaning people), drove the pain just a little deeper each time they were asked.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years: there are a lot of women that want to be moms right now. And for whatever reason - and there are 1.4 million reasons - they aren’t.
And it’s not your business or mine why they aren’t.
To give you an example of what one woman’s life might look like, here’s my road to family planning:
When I was in college, I told Carl I wanted four kids and that we’d have the first one mid-twenties. (ha!)
That changed when I went to graduate school (twice), and fell in love with my own schedule. Carl and I enjoyed traveling and doing our own thing. It was enjoyable, and I didn’t think I wanted kids anymore.
But, people evolve. And I changed my mind as I approached 30.
(For the record, it’s also perfectly OK for women not to change their minds about not wanting to have kids.)
It took us 2.5 years to have Elin. Seven rounds of infertility medications. A litany of feelings that I mention in my previous Mother’s Day post, Infertility on Mother’s Day.
And then, after we had Elin, people asked “When’s the next one?”
WHAT?! The next one! We were so thankful to have one. Our little miracle baby. I didn’t want to go through that process again.
And then, in 2017, we got lucky. Our tenacious and happy Halle was the best surprise we never knew we wanted.
After Halle was born, I told Carl I could see us having a third kid. Halle brought such a fullness and joy to our house that I didn’t want to rule out a third.
But then, almost eight weeks ago, we were told, upon starting chemotherapy, that there’s a significant chance I could regain my infertility status. I was given the option to harvest eggs, but chose not to.
And you know what? I’m OK with it all - with where I stand right now. I know that if we’re meant to have more kids, we will have more kids. There are many ways to become a parent, and I’m open to all of them if there’s a child that belongs in our family.
I say all this because throughout the years I just described, the same question popped up from well-meaning friends and complete strangers alike:
“When are you going to have (more) kids?”
And you can see, that the reasoning changed basically depending on the year.
Reasoning that can be difficult for women to talk about, let alone think about.
Reasoning that women don’t want to share publicly.
Reasoning that is tough to understand.
(Side note: Most women are not going to share their fertility background and/or family planning background with you. Nor do they need to.)
So, let’s stop putting unnecessary pressure and pulling unsuspecting triggers for those around us.
Let’s support each other in whatever stage of life we’re in without making assumptions about family planning.
Let’s create safe spaces for our friends who ARE trying to have kids.Who have dealt with the pain of miscarriage. Who are waging the physical and mental war on infertility. Who one day want to have kids but aren’t in a place to do that right now.
On this Mother’s Day, resolve with me that we’re going to love on and support the women in our lives that matter. Our moms, our rockstar aunts, our influential female friends who fill our lives with love and kindness.
Let’s encourage the new moms, the tired moms, the single moms, the married moms, the soon-to-be moms, and the hopeful moms.
Let’s love on the women who are aching, those who are in pain from loss or the unknown, those who feel like they want so desperately what they can’t seem to have or what they’ve lost.
And let’s stop caring about the family plans of others.
Let’s stop asking “When are you going to have kids?”
And replace it with “How can I support you right now?”
You may just open a door to a conversation that someone really needed to get off her chest.
Photography by Christy Shaterian Photography.