A Letter To The Lady On The Bus (and any other woman who has been asked to justify not having children)

Dear Lady On The Bus,

Firstly, thank you for being a wonderful hostess on our journey from Aberdeen to Edinburgh – you are clearly good at your job, serving everyone with a smile despite the awkward situation which you were forced to endure prior to starting the journey. It is this situation that I would like to address in this letter.

Firstly, congratulations on moving to Edinburgh with, what I presume to be, your partner – that’s an incredible achievement regardless of whether you are renting or buying. I’m sure everyone in the front portion of the bus who could hear the driver’s conversation with yourself about this wishes you well in your endeavour. Let me now skip to the next part of the overheard conversation, which made my blood run cold:

Mr Driver – “What will you be looking for – one bedroom, two, three?”

Yourself – “Probably just the one.”

Mr Driver – “Why? What are you going to do when a baby comes along?”

Yourself – “There might not be a baby.”

Mr Driver – “Why not?”

Yourself – “I don’t know, might just not be.”

Mr Driver – “Well you never know what’s in the future!”

Now, I would like to live in a world where I didn’t have to highlight everything that was wrong with this conversation – in fact I would like to live in a world where this conversation (beyond the size of house you’ll be looking for) had never happened at all. I will make this clear now – of the many problems in this conversation, not a single one came from you. I am in fact impressed with how you handled this inappropriate situation, and I heart broke for you when I could see you squirming uncomfortably when he pushed you for information that is truly none of his business.

For anyone who can’t see the issues with this conversation, I will highlight some of the key points….

  • “What are you going to do WHEN a baby comes along?” – do you hear that assumption that there will be a baby? Not IF a baby comes along, WHEN a baby comes along. The planet is suffering from an overpopulation of humans, and in this day and age we should no longer be treating women as nothing more than child bearers.
  • “Why not?” – how dare this man have the audacity to ask why there might not be a child in your future?! It is absolutely none of his business, or the business of any of the passengers who had little option but to overhear the conversation, whether you want to have children or whether you are able to have children. That is solely for you and your partner to discuss and to know.
  • “You never know what’s in the future.” – Damn right you don’t, but sometimes you have a pretty darn good idea. Whether you don’t want a child or are unable to have a child, this is the kind of thing that sometimes you CAN know about the future. We might all die tomorrow because the world implodes – that’s the kind of thing that is outwith our control and therefore we don’t know it’s in the future or not. Bringing humans into the world, although sometimes a surprise, is generally much more controllable.

Now that I think I have covered the biggest red flags, I would also like to highlight that he continued this conversation despite the fact that you were visibly and audibly uncomfortable. While it should be universally acknowledged that we just don’t speak about childbearing the way the driver did, I would like to think that it is definitely recognised universally that we don’t push people on topics that make them clearly uncomfortable! These are the kind of thing that if somebody wants to talk to you about, then they will. It oftentimes goes much deeper than just “I want kids” or “I don’t want kids” – children are an incredible responsibility and the topic should not be tossed about lightly.

So to conclude, Dear Lady On The Bus, I was absolutely mortified that you – like so many other women – had to publicly endure this situation and I hope that one day very soon people can learn that some topics are none of their business. I fully support each and every one of you in your right to make up your own damn minds – if that is the situation – and to maintain your privacy regardless of the situation.

You do you and embrace your life.

Oh, and all the best again on the house hunting!

Lots of love,

Kirsty xoxox

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