Friday, September 18, 2015

tough questions: you should always ask

i am creeping up on my 35th year of life. 35. for some reason that is a big deal. it's halfway to 40 [yep, math whiz right here]. it could be overwhelming.

yet, most days i don't feel like an almost 35 years old. perhaps that is because i spend most of my time with preschoolers. my conversation centers around potty talk. and silliness. and making shit up. half of what these kids tell me are lies. and it's completely unbelievable. for example, a student told me she that is leaving to go to the mountains today for a whole week, but will be back at school on monday. so how does that work, exactly? another kid apparently has two dads, one of which has really black hair and lives in japan. the kid telling me this story is not asian nor has a drop of asian decent. it's like they make up stuff just to see if i'll believe them.

but anyway, back to being 35. almost. i am also at an age where i am often asked about our family planning. what is the plan, exactly? the plan is there is no plan. there, i said it. you don't have to ask anymore. but also, it is a fair question, i am of late childbearing age and i have no children. people are naturally curious as to why.

i stumbled across the scary mommy blog about crissy teigen's response to this question. a few things struck me in a negative way about this article. so much that i just couldn't let it go.

according to the article, asking this seemingly harmless question could be hurtful. i could see that, if a woman is struggling with fertility issues. however, most of us are not. i don't have a child because i have chosen not to. just like many women. and since it is a choice, it doesn't hurt me that you are asking. nor do i think you are implying that you think i should be having children. most people are just genuinely curious.

the article also suggests that asking this inquisitive question is being nosy. my guess is that most of the time, this question does not fall out of the sky. it typically follows a natural progression in talking through family life, marriage, child bearing, etc. therefore, if you were having a conversation with another person in which you are comfortable with that could potentially lead up to discussing your family plan, my guess is that you typically would not find this question to be nosy.
and let's, for the sake of argument, say this question does catch you off guard from an acquaintance or stranger. you are not obligated to answer or discuss the issue if it is so deeply personal to you. you can always kindly decline to discuss your family plan and change the subject matter. plus, people can be "nosy" and blunt all the time. settle down just a bit. it is ok. it happens. just move on.

lastly, the article is titled chrissy tiegen nails why you should never ask a woman why she doesn't have kids. any time i see an article labeled like this, it rubs me the wrong way. yet, i almost always click on the damn article. thanks for drawing me in with the hook to some shit that i know is going to piss me off. this type of wording is bossy and rude. who is this writer to tell me what to do? most of the time these articles never discuss actually using social graces when approaching an issue that might be sensitive. instead the article attempts to bully you into just avoiding the topic completely. and almost always i never agree with the article. like this one. i completely fit into the title of this article and disagreed with ever reason they gave as to why you shouldn't ask this question. ask away. i don't care. but then again, i am really laid back and a fairly open book. so, perhaps i am not the audience they were writing to....

what bothers me the most about these type of articles never say this to blah blah blah... is that the topic of conversation is typically sensitive in nature.
top ten things you should never say to someone with anxiety
the one thing you should never say to a pregnant woman
12 things you should never say to say to nurses
7 things you should not say in front of your kids
8 things to avoid saying to someone who just got out of the hospital
[i could go on all day with this. would you want to follow the "advice" in any of these lists? doubtful.]
instead of avoiding a topic that may be difficult to discuss, i think it is important to have the conversations. i think it is important to share what you are going through and what your life looks like. you never know who may have a similar journey or a similar struggle. sometimes all we need to do is share our story and it could help others who are struggling for answers.
chrissy implies that she hates it when people ask about why she doesn't have children. i get that. however, does she realize the impact she probably had on so many other women by sharing just the tiniest bit of her fertility struggles? other women realize,"hey, i am not alone."

at the end of the day, i do not think less talking and less discussion is the answer. i think we should keep talking to each other and sharing our stories and our lives. but while we do that we need to be mindful and having social graces. we need to show grace and courtesy and treat each other with respect and compassion.


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