“Verity, when can we be expecting an announcement from you?” Aunt Mary stared me down over the Christmas roast.
I reached for my wine glass. “Well, I am trying really hard at work, but I can’t say when I’m going to be promoted.” Beside me, mum sighed as if she knew where this was leading to.
The table fell silent.
“She was referring to starting a family,” my grandmother clarified with a chuckle.
Well, they’ve backed me into the corner. I gulped more wine. Find the courage to say the words now, or it will be non-stop questioning and a lifetime of pity looks for missing out if I lie right now. And please don’t let them lecture me that I’ll change my mind with the right person or regret it later.
“I’m not going to have kids.”
There. Said it.
Annoyance flared. More wine. “Why have kids?” I tartly reply.
“Because you should want them.” My grandmother quickly responded. “What about your parents? They will be missing out on having grandchildren if you’re selfish.”
“How is it more selfish for me to choose not to have kids than it is for me to have kids just please other people?”
“You’re a woman, you should want kids?” Aunt Mary finally found her voice again. “There is no joy greater than having a child.”
“For you maybe; but not for me. I don’t want to have any and that’s it. I would appreciate if you would respect my decision.” More wine.
My grandmother flapped her hand at me. “This is a phase. In another five years you’ll be married and wanting babies.”
Beside me, mum glares at me to shut up.
I’m sorry mother, but I can’t lie anymore. “I’ve thought long and hard about this and it isn’t a phase. I will not be having children.”
“And what if you get married? Are you going to deprive your husband of having kids?” Grandmother continued.
Wow, she really feels passionate about this subject. More wine.
“I will always be upfront with any man about my decision. If he wants children then he can go have them with someone else.”
“You won’t be saying that to the love of your life!”
“Why is this so important to you? It’s not your life.”
“Because I care about my grandchildren, I want what’s best for them,” she glared at me.
“If you really cared, then you will accept me as childless by choice. Not try to bully me into a life that has no appeal for me.”
Aunt Mary grumbled. And then she got nasty. “You have no respect for mothers.”
“You’re looking down on all of us who had babies.”
“I have so much respect for women who choose to become mothers, and I love my mother. My choice has nothing to do with respecting other women. And it doesn’t mean I’m missing out in my life. Please, stop lecturing me.”
Then he spoke. “Okay.”
My grandmother gaped at her husband.
“Can someone please pass the gravy?” As the gravy boat was passed to him, he winked my way.