Grand-dogs / by Deborah Clague

I waited at gate 12 for my return flight home. Headphones in, but they were silent. I was giving my ears a much-needed rest after listening to Adele all weekend and didn't want the emotional stigmata of her broken heart affecting the jocund greeting I planned to share with the person welcoming me home in a few hours. So instead, I stared off into space until a woman that could have passed for a "Real Housewife" of Winnipeg sat near me, all perfect hair, manicure and tanned complexion. Then I started eavesdropping. 

She was chatty with an older lady also sitting near us and very excited about her imminent trip. "I am going to London" she replied when the older lady asked of her final destination, post-Toronto pitstop. "Well, London and then Paris. My husband is taking me there. I've never been."

The "Housewife" continued a one-sided conversation of humblebragging about her amazing life, of which I was somewhat envious, when she finally extended an offer to the older lady to participate by asking if she would be visiting children or grandchildren during her travels. 

"No", she replied. "I never had children". 

"Oh", Housewife paused. "Well … I'm sure you will have grand-cats or grand-dogs."

You may think I'm making it up, but this actual conversation occurred at Winnipeg International Airport (YWG) at approximately 6:30pm on Sunday, November 1. I totally blew my cover of pretending to listen to bops while staring off into space and immediately gave the biggest side-eye towards Housewife's general direction. The older lady didn't really know what to say and finally made a joke about fur-babies while half-smiling uncomfortably. The conversation then changed to something less awkward. 

Why does everything for women filter down to having kids? This older lady may have been a pioneer in any field, could have written the world's most beautiful, soul-stirring poetry, or been a Nobel Prize winner. But none of that would have mattered as it whittled down to pity towards her for not having offspring. I see this all the time and experience it firsthand myself. I'm 35. Childless. And know my ovaries are drying up by the day. I don't give a shit. I am aware though that this subject is of more interest and concern to a lot of people rather than my accomplishments or personal interests. 

Perhaps I feel extra ranty on this subject because Christmas is coming up and I know I'm going to field these questions while meeting friends and family, or perhaps it's just the environment I'm in, which increasingly could just be planet earth, but a woman's life, purpose, and worth should not be defined by this.