I am sick and tired of people making personal comments about the fact I am 43 and have never married or had kids.
Last week was a perfect example when a random person behind me in line at a coffee shop started chatting me up and in about 60 seconds she managed to ask me both if I was married and if I have kids. When I said “no” to both she patted me on the shoulder and acted sad for me and then asked me why! I was very angry but didn’t say anything.
Obviously I also get a lot of questions from friends and family.
So, Robin, how should I handle those questions?
Childless, Single and Happy
Isn’t it annoying when strangers climb up in your uterus without permission and glance with concern at your naked ring finger?
I’ll never understand people who believe their life choices should be shared by everyone, especially when it come to marriage (failure rate 50%) or having children (failure rate 100% when it comes to cutting into your free time).
Since I am a firm believer in speaking one’s mind, I don’t think these intrusion into your personal life should go without a strong commentary from you.
I don’t know you so I’m not certain whether you would rather take the straight path or the humorous one, so let’s assume both personalities and I’ll give you a script for each.
Perhaps like me you are the lucky owner of multiple personalities! In that case you can utilize either approach depending on which gal shows up in your crazy little head that day. Please note that the following scripts are for use with strangers; I will address friends and family in a moment.
Let’s go back to the example you provided with the woman in the coffee shop.
The Not Funny Response:
“Ma’am, you don’t know me, and you don’t know the reasoning behind my life choices. I believe in being open and friendly but I don’t think it’s OK, as you apparently do, to question strangers about highly personal matters and react in a condescending way when those strangers share things about themselves that are different from me.
“The next time you question a woman about her single status, consider that maybe she never wanted to get married. Maybe she was just dumped by someone she loved deeply and wanted to marry. Maybe she’s a lesbian living in a state where gay marriage is illegal.
“The next time you interrogate a woman who tells you she doesn’t have children, consider that maybe she tried and couldn’t. Maybe she lost a child and your intrusive questions re-open a terrible wound. Maybe she knew she wouldn’t be a good mother or her life plan wasn’t conducive to parenting and she selflessly chose not to have kids. Maybe she gave up a child for adoption.
“I’m not trying to be impolite, but I have dealt with questions like yours for years and I’m tired of it. You need to learn the difference between friendly banter in a line for coffee and prying, judgmental and flat-out rude questioning of people you don’t know.
“I expect you will buy my latte for your offenses, no? OK, then, have a nice day.”
The Funny Response (always my personal favorite):
“Why didn’t I ever marry? That’s a good question. I think the reason is I’m only attracted to married men, and until we can enact polygamy reform and bring back the good old days when a man could have two wives, I’m stuck. I know the married men I date love me, but for some reason none of them will leave their wives.
“You look really familiar, by the way. My current boyfriend has a picture of his wife on his desk and she looks exactly like you! Just last week I think I bumped my head up against your photo!
“As for children, I actually did have two children but I lost them.
“No, no, don’t offer me condolences, I don’t mean that they died. I mean I literally lost them, each one separately (one in 2007, one in 2013) when I attended a crazy Black Friday sale at JC Penny.
“You’d think I would have learned my lesson after little Billy disappeared in 2007, but no! The things we will do for a deep discount to buy a gift nobody needs to celebrate the birthday of the son of God, except it really wasn’t his birthday, there is no God and many scholars believe Jesus was made up by a bored and lonely blogger. What are your thoughts on that?
“Ooh, I see you got the iced lemon scone! Can I have a bite? No? OK. Gotta run, say hi to your husband for me!”
Of course, you could avoid all of this by not sharing personal information with strangers. Perhaps you should consider just putting your headphones in and keeping your head down as I must when in public. While I do it to avoid being mobbed by fans, this can work for you too. Also, buy a visor or cute little baseball cap. That way you can avoid eye contact.
How to deal with your family and friends is another matter altogether, and can be solved pretty easily. Here’s your friend/family script:
“We’ve had this conversation far too many times. I don’t question why you keep spitting out snotty little brats with a man who no longer loves you, so don’t keep harping on my status as a single and childless woman. At least my vagina isn’t the width of an average door frame and my tits don’t scrape on the ground when I walk.”
OK, that wasn’t very nice. Let’s try again:
“I’ve listened to you wonder about my marital status and why I never had kids for years. You need to stop. I’ve made my choices, you have made yours, and we both seem happy.
“This is hurtful and annoying to me and I’d like this to be the last discussion we ever have on the subject, unless you see me walking down the aisle in a blood-stained white dress with a baby coming out of my hoo-hoo. Then, and only then, you can ask me about these two subjects. Please pass the wine.”
Best of luck and let me know how it goes!
By the way, I know some really nice single guys who would love to get married, and a doctor friend of mine specializes in fertility for the elderly. Would you like some numbers? Because you can’t possibly be happy without a husband and a baby!!!