What Not To Ask Me At Thanksgiving

On Nov. 16, #thxbirthcontrol began trending on Twitter. Women across the world celebrated reproductive rights and the ability to decide when to have a child by posting why they are thankful for contraceptives.

I tweeted my support. My tweet referenced Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan’s recent dismissal of birth control and whether it will remain free under the Affordable Care Act, calling it “a nitty-gritty detail” not worth discussing. I also included a graphic from Bedsider that explains where my parental priorities currently are.

I expected maybe a few likes, some laughs from my friends. It ended up being one of the top tweets under the hashtag, at least temporarily. While most people liked and retweeted me in support and solidarity, a few did not like what I had to say. This one is my favorite.

Now, whether @Gonzo_Redux is just trolling or actually feels this way about my decision to have a dog rather than a human child is up for debate. Either way, saying that I am desperately compensating for not having a child by having a pet is ludicrous and degrading to people who do have children. Being a pet parent and a real parent are obviously different things, and by tweeting that picture, I was not equating them in any way.

I was simply saying that I’m not ready.

As a young newlywed, I’m often asked when my husband and I will have children. Like, really often. We are 23, still in school and live in a mother-in-law suite with family where we pay fake rent that goes into savings. We work part-time jobs and jointly make under $25,000 a year. We spend an average of three waking hours at home together a day. Why would we have a child right now?

I’m not alone in feeling this way. Many Millennials are waiting until their 30s or 40s to have children, and get married, instead focusing on education and careers first. Women are frequently told that they cannot have it all: a happy marriage, kids and professional success. But by waiting to have kids until they are older, more women are doing just that.

fambam

My husband, Weston, and me with our dog, Rascal.

Just because I don’t want kids right now doesn’t mean I never want them. I simply want to be financially and emotionally ready to raise the best kids I can, and now is not the time for that. My husband and I need to finish growing up ourselves before we bring another person into the equation. Maybe when we stop eating Taco Bell for dinner at midnight, we’ll be ready. But I don’t see that happening soon.

To those who already have kids or want them right now, good for you! I’m sure you are a great parent. No one should judge your decision to start a family in your 20s, same as no one should judge those who want to wait.

This holiday season, be respectful to your friends and family members who are in a traditional position to have kids. Instead of asking when they plan to start a family, ask them about school or work. Ask them about something they are passionate about, like sports or music. Ask them for Netflix suggestions.

I am so much more than my marriage. I am also a graduate student who works her ass off. Try asking me about that instead.

Although I appreciate your concern for my empty uterus, I will be cuddling my dog and saying #thxbirthcontrol for a few more years.

About Sarah Self-Walbrick

Graduate Executive Director — Mass Communication Graduate Student, Class of 2017
Sarah, a Lubbock native, has two bachelor of art degrees in electronic media and communication and journalism, and is pursuing a master's in mass communications. She loves Texas, her husband and dog, and good storytelling.

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