Recently I wrote about what I call The Question. “Do you have children?” It’s a simple, logical thing to ask of a woman, but it can lead to quiet havoc inside a NotMom’s head, leaving her sad, pissed, resentful, melancholy, or all of the above.
A NotMom friend took issue, saying that what I considered to be the umbrella, or gateway question that leads to all the rest, my friend pointed out that I had failed to consider the advantage of surprise.
Marissa is a top-notch exec in a male-centered healthcare environment. She can hold her own and takes no prisoners. She explained, “Of course people ask if you have kids. You can expect that for sure. The harder questions are the unexpected follow-ups. And those are almost always rude.”
Marissa: Nice to meet you.
New Contact: Do you have children?
New Contact (pick one): Oh. Why not? You’re such a pretty girl.
Didn’t you want children?
You weren’t able to have ‘em, huh?
Oh well, don’t worry. You’re still young.
Oh. Yeah, well, my sister/cousin/neighbor doesn’t have kids, and she’s all right.
Those are all real-life questions that Marissa and I have experienced. Do you have one that’s not listed here? How did you handle it?
As for us, sometimes we have the presence of mind to fire back a snappy retort like, “Yeah, I could have ‘em but then I’d have to kill ‘em.” To be honest, most of the time, we are just shocked into silence, and the questioner finally moves on.