Photo Credit: David Young-Wolff/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
We all know that it can be incredibly challenging for couples going through infertility. But single women who yearn to be mothers too go through their own heartache. They are waiting for their future life partner to come into their lives before they can even begin to try to conceive. While their infertility is circumstantial, it can be just as difficult as each month passes. But because their grief is not commonly understood, it’s often brushed aside with comments that, while are often meant to help, are hurtful.
I asked my Auntourage, the SavvyAuntie.com community on Facebook, some (not all) of whom are single, no kids, but adore their nieces and nephews, about the comments that have been made to them that were particularly insensitive. I discovered a few common themes:
You Can’t Hurry Love
There are more single women (and men) in their late twenties, thirties and forties than ever before. They understand well that their fertility has a lifespan. Waiting for love is a completely valid reason to be single and not a mother. But for some single women, it means pressure from friends and family to settle.
“So when are you going to have some kids? You know you’re not getting any younger!” As if our biological clocks aren't ticking with the volume of 10 atomic bombs! – Q.D.
"I mean you do realize that you're running out of time… Do you really think you have any good eggs left?” - A.R.
"You're wasting all your childbearing years.” M.H.
“Tick tock, tick tock.” – A.E.
"You know your eggs are shriveling up and dying, right?" – R.A.
“Maybe you should freeze some of your eggs just in case?” – K.D.
"You better hurry up if you want to have kids! –A.K.
"You should lower your standards on a man if you ever want to get married and have kids." – J.H.
"Maybe you'll find someone who doesn't want kids." – J.K.
“At this age you may have to settle down with a man who already has kids."- K.D.
"You can always use a donor egg if you have none left." – A.L.
"You are 35 and have never been pregnant?? Are you gay? Are you sure you can even have kids?" - T.D.
They used to say: "Don't worry about it, you have plenty of time! Good for you, waiting for the right guy!" Then they started saying: "Maybe you shouldn't be so picky..." and now they just don't say anything. – A.S.
The Grass is Greener
Sure, there are some advantages to not having children. I love my quiet cup of coffee on a Sunday morning. But the single women who responded here would take all the challenges that come with marriage and kids in a minute in order to have the love and children they always dreamed of.
"At least you don't have to worry about midnight feedings" And "At least you can still enjoy your freedom.” – J.K.
When married friends stop inviting you to their parties and tell mutual friends, "Well, it's a couples thing and she is single..." or "She doesn't have kids..." or the worse, "I think she might have a thing for my husband..." Please! Just because I'm single and don't have any kids does not mean I want your husband! The fact that I am single and have no kids does not mean that I am anti-social or that I am promiscuous or desperate. – C.L.
“Don't you think you're being a little selfish doing all those things (referring to work, hobbies, etc)? I mean, what will you do when you have children? You are having children, right?!" – M.H.
On Our Own
There are more options for single women to become mothers today, but that doesn’t mean the choices are simple to make. For instance, I saw a number of “just adopt”- style comments. It’s incredibly difficult for a single woman to adopt, (ask Jillian Michaels, a celebrity, who seems to be finding it tough), never mind the cost. Many women want to conceive their own biological children, just like couples suffering from infertility and working so hard to conceive, do. And having a biological baby on one’s own brings its own set of challenges. Single women are able to evaluate and make choices on their own, just as couples do.
"Have you looked into adoption?" N.P.
I wouldn't mind being a single mom since Mr. Right hasn't found his way into my life and I'm getting older. I just hate hearing: “Are you sure you can handle doing it all by yourself? Are you sure you're making the right decision? Do you know how much that costs? Do you think your body can handle it?" As if it would be any different if I got pregnant traditionally. – T.N.
“You're a woman; it can't be THAT hard to get knocked up.” – T.S.
“If you want a baby so bad why don't you just go hook up with a good looking guy and not use birth control?!” While I have no problem being a strong independent single mama, I couldn't A) Just use a guy like that without his consent and B) I don't have sex unless I'm in a committed, loving relationship or marriage. Their reply? "Well if you want a baby bad enough you'll have to be willing to bend and yield a bit" ugh! – K.W.
Which brings us to…
If You Really Wanted to Be a Mother…
While she waits for love, the single woman is questioned about her desire to be a mom.
"Every woman should want to be a mother." J.D.
“You are such a great aunt, why don't you have children of your own?” - Q.J.
"Why don't you have kids? You look healthy to me." – T.B.
"Well you never wanted a baby anyway, right?" –M.T.
"Why don't you have kids?" Curiously followed by: "Why aren't you married?” – C.L.
“Quit waiting for Mr. Right, and settle for Mr. Right Now. You don't need a man to be a good mom, just get pregnant." – M.J.
"You should stay in your (emotionally abusive, jealous and overall toxic) relationship. At least you could get a baby out of him..." S.C.
"You really don't seem like you'd be too bad of a mother; you should give it a shot."
And then there are the just plain mean and snarky comments.
"Since you’re not dating I got you a gift certificate to the sperm bank. I really want to be an uncle before I'm dead" – T.B.
"Do you know how old you will be when your children graduate? Do you want to be at your child's wedding? Is it even legal to have children at your age"? – T.M.
“Since you’re not using your eggs anytime soon, why not just give them away?” (It’s not something you expect someone to say right after you just broke up a guy.) – M.P.
"Maybe if you lost weight you could find a man and have kids.” - T.B.
"Wow! You're taking this whole ‘saving the planet’ thing a little too seriously, don't you think?” - H.V.C.
"I'm sure your parents are disappointed that you don't have kids." – T.B.
“Is there something wrong with you?" – P.J.
Melanie Notkin (a.k.a Savvy Auntie) is the founder of the Webby Award nominated SavvyAuntie.com, author of the national best-seller: SAVVY AUNTIE: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids (Morrow/HarperCollins) and the creator of the popular Savvy Auntie lifestyle brand - the phenomenon heralded by fabulous kid-friendly women everywhere as a celebration of modern, cosmopolitan aunthood. Follow her on Twitter at @SavvyAuntie and on Facebook at Facebook.com/savvyauntie. Read more about what not to say to single women who have to wait to be moms here.