Pressure can be good.
A personalized, pressurized environment can provide positive motivation to perform higher or to burst through a wall of inaction or that of a time delay. Increasing bench press weights to boost strength, staying up later each night to rehearse a speech due for delivery in a month, timing a practice standardized assessment weeks leading up to the exam…all are examples of instances where a bit of controlled pressure at healthy intervals can influence individual growth and upward mobility.
Some parents may know this style of ambitious suasion well; sometimes, it’s the only way to get the kids up, out, and progressing daily.
However, there’s also negatively-induced pressure, usually unfairly applied by other people. While equally able to move a person from one point to the next, various triggers unearthed in, say, different life phases, can be a lot to handle. If examining just a handful of transitions, one can find situations involving students struggling with college choices against their parents’ wills; people dealing with drug compulsion or unplanned pregnancy or identity disorders; or false ideals of marriage, community, or faith.
Oftentimes, it is through the clueless demanding of other people, and not always the inclined choice of a person, to exist in a specific threat or place of passage, thus, what can be deemed “negatively-induced.”
People stress one another. Women have a tendency to hoist more than necessary.
A pertinent model of this type of pressure is that which is situated on a newly-engaged or soon-to-be-married woman. The closer her wedding date, the louder the deafening clanging can become of one main inquiry: “When’s the baby coming?”
“Will I be alive to see grandchildren?” “Have ya’ll talked about having babies?” “Have you lost weight so that you can carry that baby?”
The hinting teasing:
“I want to be an aunt/stepsister/new cousin!” “Ya’ll will make ‘pretty’ babies.” “You’d better catch him before some fast trick does.” “I dreamed of fishes last night!”
On the day of a couple’s matrimony. As the couple cuts the cake. As the garter is sought. Squeals.
At the wedding send-off: “Go make a honeymoon baby!”
Babies, babies. Have some babies, why don’t you?
Why do we do this? Namely, where does this…urge…this need for this specific conversation…come from?
In our country, as the stranglehold for women to have a baby nearly immediately after the wedding gets tighter, so do rising stress levels. The forecast for a woman beginning a family is seen as somehow directly tied to her value as a woman, as in, a “real” woman starts her family when she is “supposed” to, thus, contributing her rightful place in society.
Let’s ignore her career aspirations and financial workarounds and her husband and the little fact that this woman may not even want to have children. This is not unheard of, but still surprises the hell out of some people in 2017.
A myriad of experts have even resorted to slippery slope arguments and scare tactics to force women to adhere to their “jobs” as mothers and wives.
Writer Vivian Gomez cited an article from the Atlantic regarding potentially fluffed or exaggerated statistics of fertility for women in their ’30s. “…The article also resonated with me because of my own feelings about motherhood and issues with fertility, which made me focus on the manner in which women seem to be flooded with the idea that they should hurry to have their babies and how that notion assumes women will eventually definitively want one. That intense pressure placed on women by society — everyone from family members like Grandma at one’s wedding to gynecologists to the mainstream media — that they must have at least one baby led me to question how many of those women want a baby because they are told they do.” (Gomez, 2013)
Alissa Henry adds to the discourse in her article, “Newlywed Problems: When People Keep Asking You When You’re Having a Baby.” She wrote, “When a woman hits her twenties, her decisions are no longer her own. Instead, we become the subject of unwanted speculation and are bombarded with questions by otherwise virtual strangers. When you’re single, everyone wants to know why? When you’re dating, they want to know when you’re getting engaged, and when you’re engaged, they want to know when you’re getting married. So, of course, when you’re married, they want to know when you’re having a baby.” (Henry, 2012)
Because we are inundated with mistimed issues and consequences that can persecute older women and their children, we may fear more and express this fear through the pretext of being helpful or more knowledgeable. Still, what we often appear to be is, simply, a little too nosey.
Baby inquiries could come from curiosity or out of the expectation that it’s “normal” to indulge ourselves with baby talk as soon as “morally” able to create one. Some people may want to know when a baby could arrive habitually–because, merely, it was a question they faced after their own nuptials. Usually, people do not come from a position of malevolence. We’re a speculative species.
Since many people generally do not know the awkwardness or the bitterness or the undeniable turmoil that other women may feel when up against the wall of the baby question, it is essential to recognize unsolicited harmlessness and to be ready with an answer. The probing is, quite generally, another sign of our oversharing, socially-requisite nature.
“The decision to have a baby is an intensely personal one between the two people contributing the DNA,” said Gomez. “There are all sorts of reasons why a couple may or may not have children at a given time. Some couples don’t have the money, some couples are having a heartbreaking time trying and failing to reproduce, some couples don’t ever want children and other couples are still sending out their thank you cards from their wedding.”
Passers-by or distant relatives and the like do not know that the question is awkward unless bluntly told so or unless a valid reason is presented. It may not be in the interest of the woman to disclose her life story regarding reproducing, so ignoring the inquiry or changing the subject is always an option. A woman may also choose a gentler response, like “When the time is right” or a more snippy, shut-down comeback, like those in this article.
In short, it is okay to notice the uptick of the interrogation after marriage and to feel escalating frustrations as we age and don’t seem to have “made” a baby yet. We cannot be angry about it. Our insistently participatory culture will not change, but our responses within it can keep sacred something truly special and something truly private.
Gomez, Vivian. “Baby talk: Why society’s relentless pressure on women to have kids is unjustified.” Hellawella, Jul. 10, 2013, http://www.hellawella.com/under-pressure-personal-perspective-societys-relentless-baby-talk. Accessed May 9, 2017.
Henry, Alissa. “Newlywed Problems: When People Keep Asking You When You’re Having a Baby.” Madame Noire, Jul. 24, 2012, http://madamenoire.com/199602/newlywed-problems-when-people-keep-asking-you-when-youre-having-a-baby/. Accessed May 9, 2017.