“We don’t want to talk about it.”
Recently, my Maman and I were talking about fertility, and she told me a story. At some point in my parents’ grand adventures around the world, they went scuba-diving somewhere. The company they went with consisted of a husband and wife, and at the dock, placed so as to be read by every client getting on their boat, the couple had posted a sign:
WE DON’T HAVE CHILDREN. WE NEVER WANTED TO. WE DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.
To my mother, the sign seemed really in-your-face, and I can certainly see her point. That said, I also get why the couple posted it.
More so than the weather, children are the ultimate in small talk. They’re a way for adults to identify with one another. When a parent meets another person with whom they have nothing in common, the subject that they can usually connect on is their children.
In this way and in many others, procreation is brought up all the time, and it’s assumed that everyone will do it eventually. It’s really hard to be the one who feels sensitive on this subject—the one who is infertile or the one who doesn’t want children—because the reminders about it are constant. They’re in your face.
It’s a shame, but those who really don’t want to have procreation be a constant conversation topic do have to be proactive and possibly a little in everyone else’s face about it. I know I struggle with finding the proper equilibrium myself. I don’t want people to avoid talking about their children around me, but, at the same time, I’m not a fan of people telling me I should definitely adopt if I can’t have my own. What’s more, I still find myself saying annoying things like “next it’s babies” to young couples who’ve just gotten dogs…!
It’s harder than I ever thought it would be to find a balance.
This month, I’m writing about infertility and disability a bit more since I’m participating in A Somewhat Secret Place, a show focusing on disability and its status in art and in society. For more information about the exhibition, visit its blog or go see the work in person!
939 NW Glisan
Portland, OR 97209
Open: 7 through 30 July
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 11 AM to 5 PM
Closing party: Saturday 30 July from 6 to 9 PM