I’m not entirely sure when it happened, but suddenly my family stopped asking me about my job. They didn’t want to hear about the projects I worked on or any funny anecdotes about my work day. They had just one question: when are you going to have a baby? I often responded with an uncomfortable chuckle and obvious eye roll.
But this pressure for Latinas to get married and have kids is nothing new. You see it in films like Real Women Have Curves. All Ana (America Ferrera’s character) wanted was to go off to college; her mother, Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros), was not having it. She kept pushing old standards onto Ana, like staying a virgin until marriage and learning how to cook and sew.
When growing up my experience was different, as my abuelita often reminded me to focus on school and my career. She would always end our conversations with, “okay, cuidate mija” a.k.a “keep your legs closed.” So, why did everyone suddenly want me to reproduce, including my abuelita?
Abuelita and I have always had an open relationship, so I asked her about this sudden change. “Well mija, you don’t want to be too old when you have a baby.” The words stung. Me…old? But it did make sense. I’m getting close to the big 3-0 and every woman in my family has had at least two children by that age. I was defying my family’s norm by waiting “so long” to have a child.
It’s not that I don’t want to have children. I want to have as many as my body (and my financial standing) allows. It’s not that I haven’t met the right guy. I can say with full confidence that I want to have my man’s babies. But, if there’s one thing I learned from the young mothers in my family, is that your children become your world. They take over every aspect of your life. You have to be ready for that. I don’t feel 100 perfect ready, so I’m holding off.
I explained this to my abuelita and she said she understood, and that she’ll stop asking about my uterus and ovaries. Unfortunately, the rest of my family may not follow suit.