Last night, Arthur and I planned a date night and headed for one of our favorite local restaurants. We’d forgotten that one of the local schools had prom, and so when we arrived, the restaurant was full. Neither of us minded waiting a few minutes for a table, so we put our name on the list, I admired all the pretty prom dresses, and then we wandered into the little fancy shop next to the restaurant that has all kinds of goods from local crafters and gifts.
Both of us were in a fairly jovial frame of mind. We’d watched the Kentucky Derby, and I won the informal wager we’d placed between us. We were relaxed, had nowhere in particular to be, and since we’re not on a cycle right now, I was free of the mind-melting influence of both hormone shots and waiting. We’d even managed to pick out Mother’s Day cards for our moms earlier in the day with only one brief moment when the waterworks threatened (a card that said “Your first grandbaby”). All in all, a very good day.
As Arthur and I browsed the knick-knacks, it became impossible not to overhear a loud conversation in the small store taking place near us. An older couple and a middle aged couples were standing together, talking.
“Any grandbabies yet?” the woman in the middle-aged couple queried the older couple.
“No,” sighed the older woman.
“How long has your daughter been married?”
“Seven years,” the older man said, a clearly exasperated edge to his voice.
“How old is she? Are they trying?”
“She’s 31. She’s a ‘career woman’, so no, they’re not trying” the older man said disgustedly, making air quotes around “career woman”.
“Oh,” said the middle aged woman, “well, I was 33 when I had my first. So there’s still hope!”
I was simply stunned at the complete disdain the older man showed for his daughter’s childbearing choices. I was stunned at how intrusive the middle-aged woman’s questions were as well.
I wondered if the daughter who was the topic of the conversation simply didn’t want children, but felt pressured by her parents to dance around the topic so as not to upset them. Then, of course, I wondered if the daughter was having trouble or was infertile but hadn’t wanted to tell her parents.
Childbearing choices are so incredibly personal. And some of us don’t even get that choice, necessarily. I felt terrible for the daughter being discussed in such a manner.
So I said a quick prayer for that unknown daughter. I hope that she gets her wish, whatever the family choices she wants. And I hope that someday, people will understand why such conversations aren’t very helpful to those of us making such very personal choices, no matter the situation.