Can We Just Be?

South Africa, Cape Town, Rear view of young couple sitting at beach
South Africa, Cape Town, Rear view of young couple sitting at beach

What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you have a girlfriend? What schools are you looking at? Where'd you apply? Are you dating anyone? Where did you get in? Do you have a boyfriend? Where are you going? Are you dating anyone? Is it serious? Is this the one? When are you getting engaged? Do you have a date? When are you going to have a baby? Are you going to have another? Is this it? Are you done?

Yes! Are you?

It starts at a very young age, continues through early adolescence and from 16 until about 60, does. not. let. up. Not for one single youth-filled, self-discovering second. The pressure we put on one another with our seemingly innocuous inquiries are invasive and relentless. Can we please just be?

I thought my lack of privacy hit a fever pitch pre-engagement and post-wedding but it's nothing compared to what my husband and I are experiencing now. I figured out what and who I want to be (mostly), finished school, found my mate, set a date and had a child. You'd think society would be satisfied. But no. Everyone and their mother has to know if we're having another. It's beyond family and friends. Mere strangers, within moments of meeting- or not- immediately ask about our personal plans as if they're inquiring about the weather. Since when did it become socially acceptable to ask a woman about her reproductive life? How have we gotten to this point?

Just yesterday, a nanny I "know" through the neighborhood shouted at me across the kids section of Barnes & Noble, "Are you going to have another?" The rest of the caretakers looked up from their phones, finally paying attention. What's worse? I answered. As if it was my obligation to endorse this sort of behavior, I proceeded to share (shout) all of my feelings on the matter as I chased after my toddler.

I've been asked by men and women, young and old, acquaintances and strangers and family and friends. In intimate settings and public forums. By medical professionals (with no regard to my health), cabbies and cashiers.

My husband and I simply have not decided if (and when) we'll have another child. But I'm incensed for those that may be striving and struggling and get bombarded with this line of questioning on a daily basis. It's none of your business. Simply smile, say hello, ask how- not what- they're doing, talk about something much less intrusive and move on. Wonder, you may. But, I assure you, you'll survive. And without being nosy, your reputation may as well. If it's time to share something, they will. In their own time. In their own way. As it should be.

The same goes for young people trying to find themselves, older people doing the same. Those in or out of relationships, in-between jobs, whatever it may be that's their current situation is their situation. Unless they bring it up, ask for advice, start the dialog, don't you dare. They're likely thinking about it enough already; it's all-consuming as is without a constant barrage of reminders.

Curiosity not only killed the cat, it ruined human decency as well.

*This was a public service announcement for all those just trying to live their own damn lives.