This holiday season was the most difficult family holiday I have ever had to face. I could feel the days closing in, monstrously, like how in a nightmare you can feel the looming nastiness before it reveals itself. The closer it came, the more panicked I felt. I fretted over laundry and cat litter and bus tickets and possibly lost presents. I cried in the bathtub. I ate ripple chips with dip until my breasts bloated right out of my C-cups and into an old brassiere from my Paxil-induced heavier-than-ever days. I dreamed that I was layered in twenty-odd pairs of restrictive underwear that kept me unwillingly chaste. I considered chickening out and not attending my family Christmas events at all.
You see, part of it is that the big three-four happened to me on the 29th of December, and that is but one year away from the big three-five, which the pamphlet that comes with my hormonal birth control package tells me is the year I should reconsider the health risks of taking synthetic hormones. To my side of the family, and apparently a lot of other people, thirty-five means that if I am going to procreate, it had better happen tout de suite.
What most of my side of the family doesn't know is, well, a lot of things. They don't know that I decided at the age of eight that I would never marry or have children (and so far I've stuck to one out of the two). They don't know that I was grossly pregnant on one other occasion and had a none too good experience with it due to mental instability and drug use. They don't know that me and most of the children I've ever come into contact with look at each other like we're robots or aliens or at least so terribly Other that we're rendered speechless. They don't know about my gender identity thing, which has me being neither this nor that, and that being what I am further complicates the whole bearing-fruit-from-my-womb scenario.
On top of that, I just find it incredibly rude for anyone to inquire after the activities of my uterus unless they are in a professional position to answer to my health requirements. I outlined this well over a year ago, so my ire over it is nothing new, but this Christmas saw new heights of uncalled for mentions of my possible procreation:
- How old are you now? an old friend asked, looking me up and down as though I were being appraised.
- I'll be thirty-four tomorrow.
- So, where's your kids?
All my friends have grandchildren to talk about, and I have nothing to say, which was followed by a heavy sigh.
It's almost your birthday. You're no spring chicken, so you'd better get on that kids thing.
I see you're drinking wine. No babies yet, I see!
How's your employer with people who go on extended maternity leave?
Seriously. I'm not kidding. Note that each mention of children was in the plural form. I felt as though I was being looked at like one of those robots that builds cars in Detroit. I was a body with an assumed baby-constructing purpose to fulfill, it seemed, because after the perfunctory how are you these days, it was straight to the baby topic or on to a conversation with someone else.
The whole thing made me want to whip up a t-shirt that read STOP THINKING ABOUT MY UTERUS or maybe BACK AWAY FROM THE UTERUS or even this:
Of course, the my-reproductive-organs-as-public-domain bit, as tiring and oppressive as it was, was not the whole reason for my mental imbalance over the holidays, but it sure amounted to a goodly portion of the anxiety cake. At least three individuals on three separate occasions looked at my belly to check for signs of baby-osity while boorishly asking the question. For fuck's sake, if you're going to talk to a part of my body, at least talk to a part that is actually there and obvious, like my boobs. They're used to it.
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