I was perusing the Internet yesterday evening when I ran across a clip from Tuesday’s episode of The Real. The title of the short video read, “Meagan Good Shares Her Future Baby Plans.” My first thought was that she was following in the footsteps of other stars like Ludacris and Adrienne Bailon, who recently revealed their desires to expand their families in 2018. But what I found when I watched was that the 36-year-old was put on the spot about when she would bring a child into the world with husband of five years, DeVon Franklin:
It seemed like a light and harmless conversation between the ladies on the couch from the outside, but I can only imagine how uncomfortable Good felt to be asked in public about when she would be having a child. Maybe Love wanted to know because there had been rumors here and there over the years. Maybe she wondered about whether or not Good actually wanted to have kids. Or maybe she, like quite a few others, felt that five years was a long time to be in holy matrimony and not have done it yet. Whatever the intentions, the question and the response it received created a cringe-worthy moment to watch.
If you ask me, broaching the topic of when a married woman is going to have a baby is like asking a single woman when she’s going to get married, or a recent graduate when they’re going to find a job. Don’t do it. For one, it doesn’t help anything or anyone, and in fact, it just creates unnecessary pressure, making one’s reasoning for obtaining these things less about what they want and more about showing people that they can do it.
It also gives the impression to the person you’re asking that they’re incomplete without obtaining certain things. “Sure, Meagan and DeVon look blissfully happy after five years, but they must want a baby! Because why wouldn’t a married woman or man want to hurry up and have children already? Who needs to make their career aspirations come true when they can be completely fulfilled and have purpose as a parent?!”
That may not always be what it sounds like, but that’s what it can feel like.
And worst of all, such questions totally ignore the reality of what a person can actually control. For some people, it takes no time, no struggles and no planning to have a baby. It just happens. And then happens again. And then it happens one more ‘gin and before you know it you have a little basketball team on your hands. But for others, it takes time, it takes tears and it requires a lot more than just the desire to have children. In those cases, the inquiries about when they’re going to make it happen, as though one is being asked when they’re going to file their taxes, can make you feel like less of a woman.
Speaking about the matter back in 2015, Chrissy Teigen talked about how intrusive and hurtful the question could be when she and husband John Legend were trying unsuccessfully to have a child naturally.
“I will say honestly, John and I are having trouble,” she said. “We would have had kids five, six years ago if it had happened. But my gosh, it’s been a process. We’ve seen fertility doctors.”
“And then once you open up about all those things to other people, you start learning that a lot of people in your life are seeing [fertility doctors] and they have this shame about it,” she continued. “So, anytime somebody asks me if I’m going to have kids, I’m like, ‘One day, you’re going to ask that to the wrong girl who’s really struggling and it’s going to be really hurtful to them’. And I hate that. I hate it. Stop asking me.”
Three years later, Teigen is expecting baby no. 2 with the help of IVF treatments, which for the everyday couple, are an incredible financial burden to undertake.
And if we’re being open and honest, speaking from my own experiences, I can say that while I’ve only been married a year, I’ve had more people pray for me to have a child “this time next year” than I’ve had them pray for my marriage and overall well-being. Every time I step into church and it’s announced that someone’s had a child, a baby-naming ceremony or that someone is expecting, people smile creepily in my face, rub my leg and say “AAAAAmen!” emphatically or “You’re next!” when the pastor says it will be a year of babies. It’s been enough to make me reconsider how often I frequent this church (my husband’s), because for months within our first year of marriage, I was stressed to an unhealthy point about the situation. I had so many people who for the record, weren’t my blood, pressing me about parenthood that I felt like I was slacking and was supposed to have already made it happen. So when every month would pass and every period would come, I would be in tears, the kind that make you cough, because I had let other people whom I would have to face make me feel as though I’d failed again. But I had to finally come to the realization that I wanted something so important for insignificant reasons. I had gone into the marriage wanting to wait some time to have kids, only to turn around and let others rush me into it. I’ve since talked to my own parents about these matters, and prayed about it, and know that as Good said, in the right time, it will happen. And for the right reasons. Therefore, all further inquiries about it will be met with, “That’s up to God. Have a blessed day!”
People don’t have to understand that response, but I bet they won’t question it…
So while people like Loni and family and friends may be genuinely excited about the idea of someone they know having a baby in the future, people can’t live their lives and and their dreams vicariously through others. If you want to see someone with a child, have a child! But don’t ask anyone else when they’re going to make it happen, particularly married women, just because that’s supposed to be the next step. You don’t know what people are going through and whether or not they’ve actually carried children and lost them. And more than anything, the constant questions and pressure actually makes those “pretty babies” people want to see and hug so much (but won’t offer to babysit), harder to make a reality.