There’s a species of fly in Southern Louisiana called The Crane Fly. It looks like a giant mosquito, but it doesn’t bite. Nor does it do much of anything aside from buzz around your head, your windows, get into your house and annoy you-- either directly by landing on your ear, or indirectly by sending your cats into a frenzy. Other than that, the Crane Fly has no purpose.
As a matter of fact, I read somewhere that the Crane Fly exists only to mate and then die.
Off the top of my head I could name 20 people in my town alone who seem to be taking their lifestyle cues from this largely unnecessary species of insect. Out of the 20, I encounter at least 10 on a daily basis.
All ten of them have at least once given me shit about my certain life choices.
You see, around here I’m a freak. Something ungodly, close to evil.
I’m 33, I’ve never been married and…
I don’t have kids.
*cue old horror movie music*
Listen, I’m not about to go on a rant bashing motherhood. Nor am I an active member of the SSCCATAGAPP. (Well, not always.) Parenting is a noble and respectable thing. Kids are great, what with them being the future and all. They just aren’t for me.
To my ovaries I’ve said “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Up north I could declare this little fact about my childless status to a round of nods and sounds of “Mmm-Hmmm” from other childless 30-somethings, and even a few mothers. Having your first baby after 35 isn’t uncommon, and I know a few who waited until 40. The decision to make sure your life is just so before you introduce new human beings into the mix is totally understood, if not welcomed. I mean, we’re all packed on top of eachother up there, anyway. No need to add more people to the crowd.
In the South? Well, that’s a whole other story. I can’t answer the “Do you have kids?” question without a round of gasps, pitiful looks and an interrogation about the functionality of my reproductive organs. I think it’s funny that it’s the only explanation anyone can wrap their heads around. I must be malfunctioning in some way. It can’t be possible that I just don’t want to.
Sadly, the same reaction isn’t given to the never married thing. That doesn’t bother anyone. But how dare I not fulfill my womanly obligations by not procreating by the time I had my third period!
I even had one girl declare “Pffft! Well you too old to have chirren now!”
Pardon? WTF is a chirren?
Or the girl who told me she was done having her children at 27. Apparently menopause sets in decades ahead of time down in Deliverance country.
I thanked her on behalf of the rest of the country for not subjecting us or our taxes to any more versions of herself.
Then there was the woman whose two children live with her sister on the other side of Lake Ponchatrain who wanted to tell me what a gift motherhood is (while she breathed bourbon all over me).
I’m not even touching that one.
I’ve finally started answering the “Do you have kids?” question with a series of snarky retorts:
- Kids? Oh, I can’t. I’m allergic. Whenever I go near a kid I break out into hives. (Almost sort-of true.)
- Nope. I have stuff. And all that stuff is going to be exactly where I left it this morning… Without a peanut butter and jelly sandwich crammed into it somewhere. (To which the parent entertains me with stories of expensive things that have housed rogue sandwiches… As though that’s somehow going to sell me on motherhood.)
- I don’t have children. I have shoes. My shoes are my babies. (A quote I heard on Desperate Housewives one afternoon just before I took a nap.)
Answers 2 & 4 once got me a raised eyebrow and an angry “So you’re saying material things are more important?”
Um… Yes. That’s exactly what I said.
I mean, it’s not like—In the immortal words of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon-- “this country is dangerously under populated.”
So get off my back.