Now you’re married, when is the baby?
I didn’t get married in order to harvest babies instantaneously; despite it being the ‘perfect’ environment for such farming to ensue. It seems as if the moment that my name, my title, and my jewellery changed so too did the attitude towards a 20 year old having a child. Marriage made me ‘fair game’ to all the adorning people who coo around me, repeatedly asking the above question as if I will spontaneously convulse and produce a child to satisfy their appetites. A 20 year old expecting usually garners claims of irresponsibility and idiocy but once marriage comes into the equation words of stability and readiness embellish the fictional nursery being constructed in everyone’s minds. Why does marriage make a pregnancy a celebration rather than an error of judgement? Apparently, the entrance into marriage also qualified us to be perfect parents. It didn’t. But still, my husband is asked repeatedly whether he is yet to impregnate me by zealously curious acquaintances – which becomes the only scenario in which I am relevant to them. No one told me that marriage started this unsolicited barrage of questions, nor that pregnancy is now expected of me in order to fulfil the immensely tedious life that other’s have so hastily crafted for us.
‘I don’t know if I want children at all’ I tiresomely respond as the first part of my rebuttal which brandishes astonishment across the questioners face, turning sinisterly into the sympathetic smile of ‘you’ll change your mind’. I might. But what if I can’t? This societal expectation is not physically possible for everyone. What if I can’t have children? What would you say then? Most people don’t know until they try, so I refuse to build my future on the pretence that children will form a significant part of it and I will not allow other people to build that future for me either. The second part of my defence is that, if I did want children it won’t be until I am 30 as I need to finish my degree, earn a masters and then build a career. For some reason these two ideas seem to conflict in their minds: a woman married young and wanting a career. It seems that by going to university I embarked on a pathway which diverges from the ‘marry young and have children’ one; two things that I have always thought could co-exist. Why can’t I joyously roam between the two, miss bits out here and there go backwards, forwards, and as quickly and as slowly as I please? I am adamant that I can, and that by marrying at 20 I have not traded in my independence, drive or career prospects for what seems to me a mundane future of checkpoints. There is no set criterion for life itself, however much people try to wave their preconceived tick list at me: “you’ve ticked off the first one, now onto the next- babies!”
Then I guess a house and a mortgage follows too? If only it was that easy.