Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Last week I went to Virginia to visit my in-laws. I hadn't seen them since 2008. Thanks to a car accident that left me unable to exercise for a couple months, a stressful new job that left little time for the gym, and my decision to turn eating into a hobby I've picked up more than a few extra pounds during those two years. And you know how family can be -- quick to tell you how plump you look these days. I spent the weeks leading up to the trip trying to build up my self-esteem so I could handle the fat comments. But I get there and not a single person says anything to me about my weight. Instead folks tell me I look great. 

What I wasn't prepared for was this: On Sunday morning Edd and I went to his family's church. A deaconess, whom I've met before, gave me a big hug, told me I'm gorgeous, and exclaimed that Edd and I are perfect for each other. Then she grabbed my stomach and said, "But tell me, why haven't you had any babies yet?! How old are you? 29! What are you waiting on? You know the only purpose of your marriage is to create life."

Whoa! So things like love, friendship and partnership mean absolutely nothing? And what if I can't have children? Does that mean my marriage is doomed?

This exchange was just the beginning of a theme for the trip. We were asked at least once a day by a friend or family member why I wasn't popping out babies yet, but these questions seemed pretty harmless. However, my discussion with the deaconess would haunt me for the remainder of the trip. And the encounter reminded me of the times at my church in Kentucky when I had the scripture "Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28) thrown in my face when I said Edd and I weren't in a rush to have kids.  

To judge a woman's worth by her womb is ridiculous. I know this. I preach this. Yet when someone throws religion in the mix I feel unsteady. I feel like I need to apologize for something and I'm terrified to admit to church leaders that I'm not sure if I want to be a mother ever. What's wrong with me? Why do religious authorities leave me quaking in my pumps? 

I want to be a fruitful writer and multiply the love, good works and inspiring texts in this world. Why can't that be enough?

Posted by in  on 7:00 AM 6 comments

6 comments:

  1. Playa please. Unless these people are offering to put these future kids through college I pay them no attention.

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  2. Ignore them, Jai. This isn't the epoch after the flood and the Earth isn't empty anymore.

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  3. So while I put a response on FB, this is the extended version. While much of the same, I have added a few things. Therefore, let me begin...ahem!

    That is crazy and while I know the scripture that is not the only reason for marriage. You and Edd have to make the decisions that are best for the two of you and if that means no children, then so be it. So many more people are not having children in this day and age because they simply choose not to do so and that is your choice. You guys have a good marriage. Continue to grow and develop in that and if you decide to have children, fine and if not, fine. And this is coming from someone who does want children. Please...just do you.

    As a young woman in her early thirties, I get hit with why aren't you married yet and everybody telling me that I need to hurry up if I am going to have babies. I ask folks if they are going to carry and raise the child for me right now since they are in such a hurry. Please! And I am not going to start having babies out of wedlock just because people think it is the in thing to do. I will get married and have babies when the situation and time are right. And that is what you two have to do. When the time is right and you are ready, if you ever decide you are ready, then that is when you do it and not before! :-)

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  4. Jai, I have to apologize for my country folks down in VA! Blame it on the heat...it sometimes causes a hot air to come out of folks' mouths as conversation.

    Don't let anyone make you feel like you're doing God a disservice by not having children. I don't want kids either--I'm just not very nurturing or patient with little people, lol. I love being auntie, but it's something wonderful about being able to hand those screaming and whiny little people back to their parents.

    The one thing I love about religion is that it's personal and subject to everyone's interpretation. I interpret "being fruitful and multiplying" to mean using my God-given talent to help others. In the past year, I've helped over 11 folks get good, quality jobs (in this tough economy) by rewriting their resume. I've designed logos and gave presentations to my sorority's program for high school students. And I performed a lot of other community service. It's about sharing your talents, your story, and teaching others (i.e., leaving your mark or your legacy)...it's not a race to produce the most relatives.

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  5. Thanks for all the encouraging comments. I love my Georgia Mae readers!

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  6. I would have thrown a FIT J if that deacon told me that. As someone who NEVER EVER wants kids (as Edd can probably attest to my anti-kid rants), the thought that marriage is only for reproduction is ridiculous. As Villete said, the Earth isn't be empty anymore!!! As the other poster said, I like being an auntie, but it always feel goods to return the future hellions (aka future teens) to their respective parents. It feels good to know I won't be stuck at Disney World as a prime vacation spot.

    Jen

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