That question. Oh, THAT question.
It used to make my blood boil when someone asked me that question.
So many times, my mind screamed:
None of your business!
I wish I knew!
Instead, the polite person in me – well, really, the person who did not want to face the fact that something was wrong – would often reply:
Oh, I’d like to finish my master’s degree first.
Maybe in a couple more years.
Except one time. Someone at work caught me on a bad day. A lady from another department whom I don’t know very well asked the forbidden question. No made up excuse this time. She got Ally’s famous evil eyes, and, “I actually can’t have kids.” In that moment, I found great joy in the shocked look on her face and her fumbled attempt at a response. All I could think was that’s what you get for asking a personal question to someone with whom you don’t have a personal relationship.
For so long, I used school as an excuse. And then when I finished, I used my husband going to school as an excuse. Excuses are lies you tell others hoping you’ll begin to believe them yourself. Truth be told, I dreamt of holding my baby boy or girl on graduation day wearing my master’s cap, gown, and hood. Now, I dream of having our little one sit on my lap at my husband’s graduation as he receives his master’s hood.
I know that most people have only good intentions when asking this question, but it carries so many assumptions and connotations.
When are you having kids?
…assumes someone wants kids.
…assumes someone can physically have kids.
…assumes that conceiving is the only way to grow a family.
To those trying to conceive, this question strikes a painful chord deep within their soul. It is a reminder that they are not pregnant. It is a reminder that something is wrong with them. It is a reminder that this little person who has mommy’s eyes and daddy’s smile still isn’t here yet and may never be.
This blood-boiling question and my long-time response to it made me realize one very important thing. The condition of your heart determines the character of your response. My heart was bitter so my response was bitter. I created bogus excuses to comfort myself and so easily told them to others.
Now, when asked this question, I’m truthful. I no longer feel shame in sharing our journey, because I know God has me in this season for a reason. Instead of being a source of heartache, this question has become an opportunity to share what the Lord has done in our lives and hearts. No more bogus excuses. I now share that I have a little angel baby watching over me. I now say that we are halfway through the process of adopting a little one from the foster care system.
When are you having kids?
Does it still strike a painful chord? Yes.
Do I still want to yell, “none of your business!” Sometimes.
But I’m so thankful that those moments are now few and far between. I’m thankful that God did not leave my side for one moment while I worked on changing my heart.
One thing I ask of you: Can we change this question? Can we be mindful of who we ask it to? You never know who is struggling with infertility, and what this question represents in their life.
Let’s change this from “having kids” to “growing families”. So many families are grown through fostering, adoption, and surrogacy. And some families remain as duos with pets. Let’s refrain from asking this question to people with whom we don’t share a personal relationship. Asking coworkers and acquaintances might not go over so well.
And one last request. Take a moment to evaluate the condition of your heart. Most times, the first thing that needs to change in your circumstance is your heart’s response to it.