September 17, 2006

Too Tired to Explain

I was in a rush to make a purchase for my husband in a clothing store when the chatty salesperson looked at the name on my credit card and asked if my husband’s family lived nearby. I told her his family was in Scotland and mine was in Canada.

"And you live in the States?" she asked. "So what citizenship are your kids?"

"Canadian," I responded. I smiled, gabbed the shopping bag, and left.

I felt bad. I didn’t have Canadian kids. I didn’t have any kids. Didn’t want any kids. But I was too tired and rushed to bother to correct her. So I lied.

I lied because I have found that explaining your childfree status to strangers is awkward. If you just say, "I don’t have kids," some women are inclined to put on the pity face, assuming infertility.
If you tell them you’re childless by choice, some feel the need convert you or to say "lucky you" followed by some disparaging remarks about their own less than perfect kids, just to make you feel better.

Their intentions are good, but their responses to childlessness just shows how far we still need to go to accept the reality of a mature women who is childfree.

I don’t particularly want to be the object of pity or envy. I just want people to realize that there are many women and men in North America that are childless and content.

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alphagirl said...

This is easier said than done, but try to remember that none of owe anyone an explanation as to our status. As for the clerk who assumed that you had kids, it just reflects on her limited worldview. Friendly, chatty, but limited.

We are who we are because we made the choice...if others choose to engage us in long debates or disucssions, that's their choice. We have the choice to unplug it. "No kids, no regrets."

ChrisR said...

Hey, not just N America, please!! This little CF Aussie would love some acceptance to you know. :)

Robin said...

Sometimes it's easier to just shrug it off, I can understand. I have the same problem also with the fact my boyfriend was previously married and has a child he doesn't takes a novel to explain that and people still don't understand.

Teri said...

Ah, a sufferer of foot-in-mouth disease...and she doesn't even know she has it!

Elise said...

I think that if we are to eventually make a dent in the childed community's cluelessness about us (and frequently, there is no active malevolence there), we should speak up, fill them in, and hopefully help them make sure not to forget their manners in the process.

But Teri, if you were in a rush, you definitely did the right thing!