I sit in my office. I hear a strange sound in the distance, like a murder of crows crossed with stampeding elephants. I look up from my desk.
A woman I barely know is standing there, disheveled but looking oddly pleased about it. I’m not sure if she works here…maybe she’s from legal or….Oh Christ.
In her hand, I see it. A baby carrier. And it’s full.
I have no time to escape. Already, middle aged women from departments far far away are tearing across the floor, arms open and drool flowing freely from their mouths. The mother (I can only hope she’s the mother) places the carrier proudly on an empty desk, and the hordes flock as the baby briefly wakes and screams.
Everyone coos and chirrups, and then pauses. All heads turn to me, still at my desk.
I sigh, get up, and go to hover obligingly at the edge of the group as the infant is passed around. The entire office is handling this child, and I’m not even sure whose it is. A male colleague happens to be standing nearest the baby carrier, prompting one woman to cry out: “Ooooooooooo, look who is standing the closest to the baby carrier! YOU must be next!” Apparently babies are contagious. This makes me doubly nervous.
The same woman then exclaims: “Oh Sinead hasn’t got kids – let her hold her baby!”
I protest frantically, but it’s no use. The baby is thrust into my arms, and everyone watches me as I try to make sure it doesn’t die for the next 40 seconds. I wish Emma was around. I like it when she brings in her child in to the office because I know its name. It’s Brody. Or something.
A colleague giggles at me: “Does it make you broody?”
“Oh come on! You don’t want one of your own?”
I shrug. “You’ll change your mind!” the mother says, sagely. “I guarantee, you will change your mind.” I find this hard to believe given that she has spent the last five minutes talking about her ripped perineum.
“Honestly, I’m not worried about it,” I explain, rocking the little one to sleep.
“But you haven’t got time,” an older woman sighs. “You’ve only got a couple of years left. What does your boyfriend think?”
I start to feel a bit annoyed. “He’s fine, he’s not sure about kids either. It’s not that important to us.”
Brows furrow and eyes darken. Baby (who was sleeping VERY soundly in my arms) is snatched back, and instantly starts to cry. The walking wombs make exaggerated eye rolls, as if the tears are somehow my fault. “Never mind,” one says. “You’re just not into kids.”
|Swirling, swirling towards a childless grave, you are!|
I’d like to say this little scene is a one off, but it’s a composite of many office encounters over the years.
Honestly I do NOT hate children. I hate YOU for making me look at yours. Really, please stop showing your spawn to me if I don’t know you; all I know is that your baby came from someone’s balls.
So why pen this little tale? Ah come on, you know why.
Because Kirsty. Kirsty Kirsty Kirsty.
The “passionate feminist” standing on top of the Chesterfield, waving a massive biological clock and pelting you with baby booties and Tory trousers.
Her comments in The Telegraph coincided with my composing this very blog, and began to seep into every draft I wrote.
I am not at all angry about her suggesting that it is okay to do family first, education second. Many wonderful women (AND MEN) chose not to go to university, for whatever reason, and started a family in their 20s.
When appearing on Newsnight the day after her comments made Twitter explode, she stated: “We’ve all had friends (…) who failed to understand this window because women haven’t been honest with other women; because there are still lots of things we struggle to achieve and there are still things that women struggle to get on equal terms, so this topic has been taboo.”
What? When did mothers, sisters, co-workers and people you barely even know stop asking ‘when are you going to start a family? You mustn’t leave it too late dear!’ Has she not read the story that I JUST wrote?
Or is it just me who is hearing this regularly? Is there an ancient prophecy somewhere proclaiming that my first born shall be the saviour of all mankind, or will invent a chicken that roasts itself? Is that why people are forever asking me about having kids?
Back on the screen, Vagenda co-founder Holly Baxter responded to Allsopp: “Actually, I’m told that people are constantly reminded in the media about their fertility; about their biological clock ticking; about how they should choose between a career and a child, and how that should be mutually exclusive.”
Oh thank God!
As my little story should have demonstrated, we childless females are confronted with the ticking time bomb of our wombs daily. The number of people who have made brazen comments to me about what I ‘must really want’ in regards to motherhood far outweighs those who have made inferences about my career or education choices.
Which leads me to point two, the biggest fly in the ointment of my mellow mood.
If Kirsty had simply put her own views across on how to raise a daughter, and said “that’s just my opinion”, then fair enough. But she appeared to buckle, perhaps fearful that people might not agree with her, and so turned it into a ‘debate that needs to be had.’
It’s a bit like going to the supermarket and picking up a bottle of sweet white wine, and then shouting at everyone else: “Everybody put down your baskets – I’m buying sweet white wine because I like it and I think we all need a debate about it! It’s a debate that needs to be had because I sometimes feel pressure for not buying Chablis. And Chablis is fine, but we really all should talk about this!”
For every person saying, “I want to have kids but society expects me to go to university and have a career”, there is someone else saying, “I want to go to university and have a career, but society expects me to have babies and raise a family before it’s too late.”
YOU DON’T HAVE TO JUSTIFY YOURSELF. IT’S YOUR LIFE.
We have campaigned for equal rights for decades so we don’t have to have this kind of archaic conversation. Why is a personal lifestyle choice cause for national debate? Why do women have to be pulled into the lime light to explain why they are or are not going to university?
When asked how to get rid of racism, Morgan Freeman said: “Stop talking about it.”
The same applies to feminism. Raise awareness of inequality where needed, do not suffer prejudice and fight the good fight. But for GOD’s sake, can celebrities stop making issues out of nothing in the name of feminism?
One final point: what the hell is so wrong with adoption? Please don’t think I am implying that this is an easy step, because it isn’t. But parenthood does not begin and ends with your womb. My grandfather was adopted, one of my dearest friends was adopted. I urge you to read the blog of two friends and their story of adoption. http://thehouseofbailey.wordpress.com/adoption/
A woman who cannot conceive naturally can still be a mother. And a student. And employed. And a beers.