Talk Back

My Biological Clock is No One’s Business

JET wants you to Talk Back. This is one of the reader submissions that we received and opted to publish. Want to make your voice heard? Submit your commentary, TV show recap, poem, or essay HERE.  Read all the rules  so you know how it works.

There seems to be a lot of shaming and blaming on women, married or not, that do not have children by a certain age. Sadly, it’s women who do it to other women more than anybody. It’s as if we’re conditioned to believe that you’re never woman enough until you get married, have a child, then have ANOTHER kid. Furthermore, if you’re a woman that is not on the “right track,” others see that as an invitation to inquire and give advice on your personal decisions.  In a recent interview with Redbook Magazine, newlywed Gabrielle Union discussed the struggles many women face in deciding if and when to start a family.

“So far, it has not happened for us,” she tells Redbook. “A lot of my friends deal with this. There’s a certain amount of shame that is placed on women who have perhaps chosen a career over starting a family younger. The penance for being a career woman is barrenness. You feel like you’re wearing a scarlet letter.”

Even Kim Cattrell recently had to clap back at a reporter who couldn’t resist asking the 59-year-old star why she didn’t have children.

“I am not a biological parent, but I am a parent. I have young actors and actresses that I mentor; I have nieces and nephews that I am very close to. … There is a way to become a mother in this day and age that doesn’t include your name on the child’s birth certificate. You know, you can express that maternal side of you very, very clearly, very strongly. … It feels very satisfying.”

However, it was the video of Tyra Banks and Chrissy Teigen on an episode of the Fab Life that really hit close to home. In the clip, Chrissy spoke candidly about her struggles with having children with singer John Legend, and how constant questions about children affected her.

“One day you’re gonna ask that to the wrong girl who is really struggling and it’s gonna be hurtful to them,” Teigen said. “And I hate that. I hate it. Stop asking me!”

I shed a tear watching this clip. It saddens me to know that women all across the nation are like Tyra, and feel forced to be vulnerable and air out their personal business to those who have no reason to be privy to such information.  I was caught off guard a few weeks before my thirtieth birthday when a woman I just met told me, “You need to focus on having kids because you’re coming close to the age of having a child with a disability!” I was disturbed at how a someone that I barely knew felt qualified to speak such power over my uterus. While I appreciated the concern, the pressure of other people’s expectations gets pretty exhausting.

To avoid an awkward situation that may leave others thinking that you are insensitive, please ask yourself the following questions:

Do I have the ability to take care of this child physically or financially?

If I got paid every time I was asked about kids, I would be able to afford to have kids. Paid leave, a flexible work schedule and day care are all necessary requirements for women expecting children. Consider keeping your comments to yourself unless you are prepared to take on this hefty responsibility that you are requesting of the person you’re speaking to.

Am I able to conceive a baby for this person or am I able to deal with the emotional stress this topic may cause if this person cannot conceive?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 6 percent of married women ages 15 to 44 are infertile – that is, they are unable to get pregnant after having one year of unprotected sex. Are you ready to engage in that heavy conversation? Are you ready for these tears from the stress this conversation has caused?

Do I NOT have other things to discuss with this person?

“So when are you having babies?” is not a conversation starter. It’s understandable how this is confusing as we are brainwashed to believe that this is on the top of every woman’s vision board. In an event that you are trying to bond with a particular woman, or fill up dead air from awkward silences, try using one of these conversation starters:

  • “What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
  • “Are you watching _____ show?”
  • “I’m planning a birthday dinner, any great recommendations?”
  • “What is the best/worst thing that happened to you during the past week?”
  • “Do you drink coffee or tea?”

The list of acceptable conversation starters goes on, with each one having the potential to lead to a deeper connection than the topic of babies ever could. If you find yourself needing assistance in this area, in the words of the honorable Kid Fury, “Do your Googles.”

The fact that I am not a mother yet doesn’t make me less of a woman nor would I identify myself as “wasting my child-bearing years.” Having said this, I really hope that one day I am blessed with the responsibility of having a child as I am positive it will be an amazing experience. Until then, on behalf of women who don’t have children across the nation, please STOP asking, insinuating, probing, discussing, persuading, hinting, and pushing the idea of having kids! Once that time comes, you’ll know. Until then, don’t call me about it, and trust that I’ll call you!