Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A is for Agreement...and Aniston



I've always liked Jennifer Aniston, inasmuch as a person can like someone they've never met. She seems pretty grounded, and also like someone with whom I could go out for Mexican with in a group of friends.

I think this even more after reading her blog entry For The Record on Huffington Post.

Obviously I have no experience being stalked by paparazzi - more like I am the actual paparazzi always taking pictures of every blessed thing - but I was happy with what she had to say about women and how society scrutinizes us. What the world at large thinks it is allowed to weigh in on in the lives of women. The thing she touched on that resonated with me the most is how much we define a woman's value based on her marital and maternal status.

It's time for questions about when someone is going to get married or have a baby to stop. Those things are really intensely personal. You should not be asking the questions, period, of men or women. If someone volunteers the information, the conversation may proceed. If they don't, it's off limits. Personally I find that the people who ask me these invasive questions are not my family or close friends. They're random acquaintances or people I don't even know well. Step off.

Some people don't want to get married. Some people don't want to have kids. You don't deserve to know their reasons for either. Hell, some people CAN'T have kids, and you poking your nose around in something that's likely already a huge source of pain to them to satisfy your own nosiness is thoughtless and cruel.

I know that these rules are quite different than what were acceptable topics of conversation even less than 40 years ago. I know we're still changing. Slowly changing. I know it's a hard thing for people to adapt to, the notion that you are not privvy to a woman's reproductive plans. When I was younger, it was most certainly expected that you would grow up, get married, and have kids. And that people would ask you when you were going to get a move on those things. That's not the case anymore.

In 2016, we're finally in a place in the civilized world where people are making active choices in their own reproduction. You can have no kids, one kid, three, five, six. What you can't do is tell others the appropriate number of kids to have. You also can't publicly ask people like me about when I'm having kids without getting your ass handed to you. It's not your business and I don't have to be polite or nice in response to that question.

As for the parent vs. non-parent bullshit: You can't act like you're more if you are a parent and someone is not - you're not more exhausted, you don't have the capacity to love more. Likewise, you can't act like you're more if you're not a parent and someone is - you're not more evolved, you're not more focused. Neither of you are better. You've simply made different choices. Choices are awesome. We as women need to be supportive of the choices of other women. And we as a society need to let others be exactly who they are and not lay our conceptions of gender roles on top of them.


Marriage and motherhood are not the only two things a woman has in life. She might have a job outside the home, an in-home business, an etsy shop, a blog, a book club, a passion for tennis, so many other things not to mention the intangible things: her thoughts and dreams and hopes and ideas about the world. We are, each of us, so many things. We are all worthy of love. We all have value. None of us owe anyone an explanation of our life choices. Whether you're a wife and mom or not, it is so crucial to maintain your own identity outside of any role you play, and to practice self-care and love and not feel guilty about any time you take to do that. You'd can't fill anyone else's cup if your cup is empty.

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50 comments:

  1. I'll add an A to your alliteration... AMEN! (to your post and to Aniston's)
    Living in Australia, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are on magazine covers every other day (even though Kristen would point out that Nicole was born in Hawaii and Keith was born in New Zealand - haha). Happily married. Getting divorced. Cheating. Keith going back to his alcoholic ways. AND... baby rumors. This is a woman who has openly admitted to fertility issues in the past. She has adopted. She has used a surrogate. But, if she has had an extra bread roll or two and her stomach sticks out to look like a size 6 person, instead of a size 2...then tabloids immediately say she is pregnant. It is disgusting.

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  2. I couldn't agree more with this. I want to get the entire thing printed on a t-shirt and wear it around for the rest of my child bearing years (and probably beyond to be honest). Having been married for 6 years a lot of our contemporaries are having children (or are onto their second or third!) and people keep assuming I'm going to tell them I'm pregnant anytime I look excited about something. I'm absolutely fed up with it. I'm curious, what's your response when people ask you about kids? I may need to borrow it.

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  3. A is for awesome. Bottom line, experiences, not what you are or at not, are what gives you knowledge on life. I never went to college, so I don't know what that is like. I have never not had children , it seems, since my mom had triplets when I was 13 and o was a mom at almost 21. Choice is excellent and nobody's business! Since I am an avid obit reader, I see a good bit of childless people. We are all on a learn-to-be a good person life journey! Be good to yourself and others. Love. Steph's. Momma

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  4. Please excuse typos. Jmj
    Love. Your. Momma.

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  5. Wonderful blog. Women need to stick together more and support each other. This is not happening enough. Great job Jennifer and Stephanie!

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  6. OMG YES!!! We still get the questions about when we are having kids. I sometimes catch myself and say, "not right now" (when I know that most likely 'not right now' means 'not ever') just to pacify the asker. And then I'm like, no way. Just because you popped out 2.3 babies before 30 doesn't give you moral authority over me. I love my "selfish" life where I can do what I want, when I want. No one gets to "guilt" me into having kids. Sorry for the rant. This is just right on with how I'm feeling as of late. Go Jennifer Aniston! I'm quoting her moving forward.

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    1. A coworker some years ago said that my decision to not have kids was "the most selfish thing she's ever heard of."

      My reply was simple, "No. What I'm doing is being RESPONSIBLE. I want to come and go as I please and do what I want to do when I want to do it. It would be selfish of me to bring a child into this world knowing how I am and knowing that I don't want the responsibility of raising a human being, don't you think? A child deserves a mother who is all in and up for the challenge. That is not me. You might want to rethink your definition of selfish."

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  7. You already know how much I agree with all of this, but I'll say it again anyway!

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  8. Amen! I know how infuriating my experiences have been - not marrying until I was almost 30 and being childless by choice - and I'm not a celebrity living in the public eye as Anniston is. I can't imagine how difficult it is to be her or any female celebrity who isn't following the archaic "conventional" female timeframe. I'm not sure, if in her shoes, that I would have the grace to handle it as well as she has.

    One of the things I have come to truly love about being a 40-something is that people have stopped asking, "When are you going to have kids?" I guess people just assume that my biological clock finally ticked out and I didn't heed everyone's warnings about this when I was in my 30s. In fact, I am truly embracing this neutral time, because there are no milestone questions to poke and prod me about. The next milestone for me is menopause and retirement! I plan to enjoy this quite time as much as possible! LOL!

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  9. Like Rachel said, I want to put this on a t-shirt and wear it. It's the perfect follow-up to what Jennifer Aniston (a true role model for girls/women) said.
    Someone asked me the other day if I was going to have kids. She's asked me this FOUR times in two years and I always give her the same answer. I don't understand how people can be so thick or insensitive to the privacy of others. It's infuriating.

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  10. Great article and great post! It's actually interesting, because the number of women who choose not to have children is steadily rising, but somehow social expectations just ignore that. I've been lucky and had family and friends that are too respectful to ask "when" things are going to happen that I don't necessarily have control over or want to do, but I have a friend who is asked by her family "when" she's going to get married and that is the shittiest thing possible to do to her because she would love to get married and her boyfriend just isn't ready. So they keep rubbing it in like a bunch of assholes.

    It's bad enough to not acknowledge that someone might make a choice that's different than yours but asking them when something is going to happen that they don't necessarily have control over is just douchey. It's like "When are you going to get a raise?" "When are you going to win the lottery?" "When are you going to mold your life into exactly the pattern I expect you to?"

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  11. Yes, yes, yes, yes. I loved her thoughts on this. It's utterly ridiculous that all of these things are even still talked about. Do what you want with your own life, people, and be happy doing it.

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  12. One thing that gets my panties in a bunch, and you know this, is people who are parents thinking they're superior to those who aren't (and let's not start in on those who have multiple children thinking they're better than those of us who have one). We are not. Do we have different responsibilities and obligations? Yes. Did we make different choices? Yes. Are those better? No.

    I cannot stand the implication that motherhood automatically makes you a better or more worthy person. I know shitty people who are parents and amazing people who are not. What makes you a good, worthy person is how you treat people, not whether you reproduce them.

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    1. Jana, this comment reminded me of something I saw on Facebook the other day. (I rarely even sign on anymore and almost every time I do, I find something that annoys me!) Anyway, this girl I went to high school with has four kids. She made some snooty comment saying something like, "I love it when someone with only one kid tries to give me parenting advice. #thisaintmyfirstrodeo" (That's probably almost word for word.)

      I don't know what the whole situation was, of course, but it sounds like someone was just offering a "this worked for me" kind of thing. Yes, unsolicited advice can be annoying, but I highly doubt the other woman was trying to be offensive. She probably thought she was being helpful, and then this girl felt the need to trash her on social media.

      Ugh, I don't know. It just really rubbed me the wrong way. Having four kids doesn't automatically make you an amazing parent or know more than every other parent out there, just as having only one doesn't make you selfish or mean that you'd have no idea how to juggle multiple kids. It's just a different choice.

      Clearly this shit gets under my skin sometimes. Haha.

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  13. This calls for a praise hands emoji. Absolutely dreading the questions I know I'll face from Andrew's family this weekend about our life choices. No one asks preteen girls about getting their periods or older women if they've reached menopause yet. Why are we in our childbearing age subjected to speculation about our reproductive systems??

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    1. This! Your last two sentences are SPOT on in this whole conversation.

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  14. You have been in my mind. I have been wanting to talk about this topic since Jennifer A made her stance ... which I SO APPLAUD HER!
    & think its a shame she had to make a statement about it.
    Women can be the worst judgmental creatures in the world. ESPECIALLY when it comes to marriage & babies.

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  15. All hail this post!!! As someone who's been trolled endlessly online this past week for being overweight (my cancellation of my column has brought out every anonymous commenter living in every basement in Northern New York), this message could not have come at a better time. In fact, someone on my own pageant board of directors was just telling me on Sunday how I need to hurry up and have kids. Keep holding your breath on that one, lady.

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  16. If it weren't for immigration, our population would be declining. Straight up facts. Because Millenials/Gen Y don't want to bring kids into this f-ed up world, or have so much debt that they can't. So I don't get the shaming over not having kids - SO MANY more people these days aren't having kids. Everyone has known since I was a tiny child myself that I would never have kids. But it seems to equally annoy them that I don't want to get married either. I'M A DIVORCE LAWYER. Spend one day at my job and you wouldn't believe in marriage either. And none of that is anyone's business but mine and John's. Drives me bonkers. I feel for Aniston and I'm behind her 100%.

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  17. Her words spoke so much to me. I don't want to have kids and I often feel the pressure to do it. I loved her candid remarks. We shouldn't be held to a standard of man, baby, and physical fitness. THat's not what life is about.

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  18. This is amazing and exactly my reaction to Jennifer Aniston's article put into words. Thank you so much for this!

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  19. I totally agree with us! I don't think that you need to define yourself by anything like marriage or children or the lack there of your definition of self is something completely different. I also like the part rewrote that meter is better than the other. I don't look down on working moms or non-moms and I don't think that any of the good ones look down on me for being a stay-at-home mom. The fact is our choices are different because our priorities are different and there's nothing wrong with that! I am happy to see that Jennifer Aniston took a stand and said something empowering women because there's no reason that her life should have to be defined by who she is married to or if she's married at all or her lack of children. They have nothing to do with who she is.

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  20. I was so happy to see her write this article. On almost a monthly basis for the last 10? 15? 20? years there's been an article about whether or not she's pregnant. I can only imagine the stress that would put on you and the way it would play with your head.

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  21. Yes!!!!!!!!! I cant tell you how many times I have wanted to just scream and smack thoughtless people when they asked me when Chris and I were going to start having children. While granted, they know their answer now...it was a sore subject with me for awhile. And it is uncomfortable to discuss with people even if you are comfortable with your decision. I loved that article from Jennifer! I can call her Jennifer because I just know if she met me she would be my friend!! Ha! But seriously, people need to stop judging women about every thing we do, wear, eat or dont eat, and what we decide to do with our lives. I dont see people asking men why they lost 10 lbs or why they are wearing a certain thing or why they aren't married yet.

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  22. Saw this the other day and loved it as well! I'm so sick of old school thinkers judging women's choices. At this point I think there are enough people on the planet that we don't need to reproduce simply to carry on the human race. And we've got plenty of problems to deal with down here as well! We all just need to respect each other and our choices a bit more.

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  23. I think that being a celebrity comes with some degree of paparazzi and news stories, but regardless of your job (because essentially her popularity is due to her job) private matters like marriage, parenting, etc. just aren't anyone's business. I appreciate Aniston's low key lifestyle. She keeps her nose clean in a world where that's tough. She's happy with her body and her self- actors like her and Emma Watson and Amy Schumer and Poehler and Tina Fey all make me so happy and proud to be a female.

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  24. Could not love this post more! It still blows my mind that people actually ask these questions, and before getting pregnant this year every stay at home mom I knew would tell me to just get pregnant so I could stay at home with my kids and not worry about working anymore as if it was giving me more value. Newsflash... regardless of having kids I need to work to help support our lifestyle. We've been married for 6 years, and people were starting to wonder if we were having kids. None of their business! We decided to buy a house, move from the northeast to Florida, travel, have fun with friends, and then travel some more. That was no one's business but ours. Oh how I love Jennifer Aniston <3

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  25. I totally agree with this! Even while pregnant, my aunt still mentions how I waited long enough. I'm 28, but her kid started having kids much younger. I don't know why everyone has to force their opinions. It's fine to talk about it if someone is okay with that, but it's always posed in such a way as to ask when someone is going to have kids or when they're going to get married instead of if. Unless they're a guy, then most likely they're left alone.

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  26. LOVE this post so much! The number one question we always get asked is when we're going to have kids. My husband and I want to have kids in the future, but that doesn't mean that it has to happen right away. And what happens if we couldn't have kids? It's all very personal.

    This also particularly resonated with me today because I always get the feeling that my husband's family thinks that we can drop whatever we're doing and meet up with them for whatever they're doing, even though they live 5 hours away. They always plan things super last minute and then expect us to not have plans because we don't have kids. It's beyond frustrating because I'm a super planner, and always try to have stuff going on, and then I feel like the bad guy because I can't go to their spur of the moment thing. It's beyond frustrating and obviously really bothering me today!

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  27. So true!!! I love that she finally spoke out about this. I feel bad for her always having to deal with the rumors about her personal life. It's bull shit. I can only relate in so much as people still constantly marvel (out loud and in my face)on how and why I am still single. I mean obviously, it's my choice. Mine!

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  28. I had a conversation that was eerily similar to this blog post with a friend at work after we both read Jennifer Aniston's blog entry. I loved what she had to say.

    The thing is, I'm very open about a lot of things with a lot of people. There are very few things that I feel guarded about (though, oddly enough, my blog is one of those things). I often openly discuss the fact that I wasn't sure for a long time if marriage was for me, and the fact that I'm still on the fence about having kids.

    That being said, I don't appreciate when people feel the need to butt in and ask when I'm having kids, why I don't have any yet, why Eric and I waited so long to get married, etc. Like you said, it does often come from people I don't know well, so I kind of try to shrug it off and just give a vague response. But sometimes it comes from people I'm closer to (like my in-laws, for example), and it's harder to do that.

    I try not to let it bother me, I really do. I know that when Eric's parents or siblings ask us about having kids, they're probably just asking because they're genuinely interested in our lives and future plans. However, there's a possibility that we may not even be able to have children. We've never tried, and I've never had a pregnancy scare in the past ... So there's really no way to know at this point. He and I have talked about this a lot because I'm honestly a little worried that things may not go as smoothly as we might hope. I know it's silly to worry about something like that right now, but it's something that pops into my head from time to time (especially if we've started getting those questions again).

    It's so weird to me, though, that regardless of a woman's choices, other people feel like they have the right to judge her. I hate feeling like I have to justify the personal choices I make, and I can't even imagine what someone famous (like Jennifer Aniston) goes through when they put on a couple of pounds or get a divorce or have seven children or choose to bottlefeed instead of breastfeed. How fucking exhausting to have to explain away every choice you make.

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  29. I agree with your interpretation of Jen A, she does seem very grounded and deals with a LOT of shit from the magazines. I can't imagine dealing with half or a quarter of the drama she sees.

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  30. Yes! Yes! I shout it from the top of my lungs, YES! You hit every nail on every head and I love it and thank you. Last week, I had a conversation with my friend about life and relationships and she and I are on the same page about so much it's sometimes scary but I told her she had to go home and read what Jennifer Aniston wrote because I knew she would appreciate it as much as I did. I loved that you didn't just stop short of acknowledging marriage, kids, and careers but that there is so many other facets of a woman that should be encouraged and celebrated.

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  31. Hear, hear !! Well said, Steph!!

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  32. This whole post is gold. Well written, girlfriend! <3

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  33. Well said and well written girl! I love everything about this! xo, biana

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  34. Love this and completely agree with you. Very well said, Steph! Also, how cool would it be to actually go out to Mexican with Jenn? lol

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  35. So I thought I posted yesterday- guess my phone didn't work. BUT YES. I just had my first kid and I am SO HAPPY to not be pregnant anymore because apparently it's an invitation for people to make assumptions and ask all kinds of personal shit. I LOVE my kid but I don't love the idea that because I have one everyone gets to be all up in my business (or hers). So even though the situations are totally different I completely get where she is coming from and really wish we could all just leave each other alone, haha.

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  36. A-frickin-men. I loved her post; it was so important. Women are constantly pressured about EVERYTHING and I feel so strongly about speaking up on this topic; hence why I write about it so much. When I was dating my ex (we were together 5 years) I remember going to a bachelorette party with a group of girls and one -- who I would BARELY call an acquaintance -- asked in front of EVERYONE, "so when are you getting engaged?" I was so pissed because A) are women supposed to know when they're getting engaged? B) it was said in a way that implied "what's taking so long?" and I resented that C) who the fuck are you to ask me that?

    People need to worry about themselves and stop intruding on the lives of others. /rant

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  37. I think it should go without saying that I cannot agree more with 100% of what you said—I actually have a similar sentiment post in drafts I've been hesitating to publish. BUT, in particular...
    "As for the parent vs. non-parent bullshit: You can't act like you're more if you are a parent and someone is not - you're not more exhausted, you don't have the capacity to love more. Likewise, you can't act like you're more if you're not a parent and someone is - you're not more evolved, you're not more focused. Neither of you are better. You've simply made different choices." THANK YOU. That is probably the single most irritating thing parents say to non-parents—that and the accompanying "Wait till you have kids/are a mother." Because first of all, who said I was ever going to be? And for the record I might not be able to be, so thanks for condescending and intrusive useless statement. And second of all, you have no idea what my threshold is for those things you're claiming to have a monopoly on, so kindly sit down and put down your badge of exhausted honor before I freak.

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  38. I don't understand the pressure and shame society puts on women to have a specific body or have a specific life. I am so grateful for people who decide children are not what they want. It's better than bringing children into the world in a bad situation or with parents who really don't understand or want the responsibility of children.

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  39. Well said Steph and I 100% agree yet was never able to put it into words. It is a very personal question these days although it was the norm years ago. I personally get annoyed because I'm a "whatever happens, happens" person when it comes to pregnancy but that is an extremely upsetting and touchy subject for someone having issues with fertility. Just no.

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  40. as a parent, 95% of other parents annoy the fuck out of me. they either think they're the best parent in the world or their kids are the best kids in the world and nothing is farther from the truth. those who harp their shit about being a parent is the most fulfilling thing/you're selfish if you don't have kids etc etc are insecure, bored fuckwits who have nothing better to do with their time #yeahisaidit. i find that those women who do that feel like they lack something in their own life so they have to pump up their lives in front of others (often by looking down on others) to convince themselves that they are 'living the dream'. i know a woman like that; she talks incessantly about her kids and how amazing they are which is obvious a reflection on her parenting/herself and it just goes on and on i can't fucking stand it so i just straight up walk away when she gets on that topic.

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  41. One thing I get since I'm perpetually single among married with children friends is someday you'll understand...ummm, how about maybe not. It's very insensitive and I loved what Lauren said about asking girls about their periods or older women about menopause.

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  42. Yes Yes Yes. Totally agree with this! Let us all just worry about ourselves and let others just be. We don't owe anyone an explanation about our choices, only ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to live the life we want and the how's and why's are no ones business.

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  43. Well preach it sister! I agree that everyone else's choices and lives are NOT our business. And who am I to judge your why, or why not. Well said my blog friend!

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  44. love this! i love what you said about not parent vs non parent bullshit. i am sick of parents saying they are more this or that, but i am also sick of non parents saying they are better because they don't have their kids shoved up their asses. no one is better, like you said.
    i used to ask people when they were getting married or having babies. i remember my cousin got married and on her wedding day i asked her when she'd give me baby cousins. i was like 19! stupid me! but i am not 19 anymore, i know better, i don't ask that shit anymore. people my age or younger are normally not the ones asking me, it's the older people i work with or my friends parents that seem to want to know whats going on with my uterus. and of course, my mother in law. but yeah. i talk to my friends or people i know about these things if it comes up in conversation, but i would never ask someone willy nilly without knowing their situation, and if someone does that to me, it just proves that they are not close friends or family, you know?
    rambled, sorry. i really do hope that this bullshit is on its way out and our kids (for those that want them!) won't have to deal with it. i mean, i hope i can stop dealing with it soon too lol.

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  45. Preach. I'm so tired of people's worth being determined by whether or not they BIRTH a baby. That is NOT THE HARD PART. Raising a GOOD HUMAN is. If you can do that, then I applaud you.... until that, it's just biology and it doesn't make you a better person than me or anyone else who doesn't pro-create.

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