Oh and how very wrong I was. So this is what happened the day I got tick tocked.
Not familiar with the Tick Tock? Well, please allow me to educate you by introducing the 'Tick Tock', a bizarre female-centric movement that insults, belittles, ages and almost always infuriates women the world over, through reminding women of their duty to produce offspring before their womb goes into retirement and moves to Florida.
Essentially, this movement is like a verbal drive-by-shooting, in which people (and by people I unfortunately mean other women) inappropriately inform women that they must instantly procreate before their biological clock ceases to tick.
And because there is really no nice way or socially acceptable method to refer to another woman's womb, this heinous comment on age, motherhood and expectations is typically accompanied with the very innovative (please note the sarcasm) and universal 'tick-tock' phrase. Because unless you didn't already know, our wombs are biological clocks that tick and tick and tick, that is, until it can tock no more.
And so begins my story. Last week, whilst at coffee with a school mate and my sister, the topic of children and marriage and husband's inevitably came up. Whilst these topics didn't overly interest me, I played my part by listening, shaking my head in solidarity when they complained about their spouses (sorry guys, but sisters need to stick together) and of course cooing over the baby in front of me, despite my total indifference towards children under the age of 5. Basically I was being a good and faithful gal pal, the perfect fashion accessory and coffee date for every modern woman.
That was until my womb came under scrutiny by a very misguided and deeply insensitive friend. According to this friend, I was a woman that seriously disregarded societal expectations. I was unmarried at 26 years of age. I was childless. And worst of all, I owned 2 cats!! Basically I was a walking disaster; a female failure and a social miscreant! And, amongst all that, I owned cats!
This, my friend felt, needed to be brought to my attention immediately. And if I didn't comply, through marriage and impregnation, than I would indeed evolve into (get this) a cat lady! And not an acceptable one at that, she kindly reminded me, but a crazy one!
A terrorist against Christian propagation
All of a sudden I wasn't feeling the gal pal vibe at the waterside cafe that afternoon. Instead this coffee date had transformed into a Guantanamo Bay interrogation, and my womb was its prime suspect. I was a terrorist against Christian propagation, babies and husbands. I couldn't believe it!
Apparently this is 'still-happening' in the 21st century; an age steeped in political correctness, hyper-sensitivity and equal opportunism. Just when you think we have evolved and broken down barriers to accept various lifestyles and family dynamics, I was being condemned for choosing singledom!
Whilst I didn't really make the conscious decision or choice to be single, I was indeed single. I didn't feel ashamed by that relationship status at all, and I didn't think that by being single I was opposed to marriage or babies. But apparently by lagging behind many other girls my age, who were indeed married and pregnant, I was choosing a side. And that side was not acceptable.
Unfortunately not everybody appreciates the diversity of choices currently available to modern women within our society, especially to women within the church. Whilst many single women don't actually abhor marriage or even motherhood, their lifestyles are often questioned quite openly by others, often with distain. Singles and childless couples are made to feel unworthy and incomplete because they do not have a significant other or the pitter patter of little feet.
How insensitive and dare I say unjust is that stance! On reflection I can now see that the tick tock that was directed towards my womb last week was not said out of hatefulness or even spite. I think, deep, deep, deep down it was said out of love. At least I hope it was.
But that isn't really the point is it. The point is that, as Christians we need to be sensitive to other people's life choices. Sure the tick tock became a rather amusing story after several weeks of deep contemplation and a quirky comedic routine. But in truth commenting on another person's reproductive choices or their relationship status is actually quite rude.
And for many young Christians these comments are spouted off too often by well meaning but misguided friends. And that is not humorous at all. Rather it's insensitive and unkind and judgmental. So as Christians we must embrace people, despite the various life stages they seem to inhabit. We need to build people up, rather than compel them to comply with social conventions and expectations.
A great passage in Romans 12 verses 16-18 says "Be sensitive to each other's needs - don't think yourselves better than others, but make humble people your friends. Don't be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but try to do what everyone regards as good. If possible, and to the extent that it depends on you, live in peace with all people".
No need to justify
So Christians lets get a sensitivity chip! Embrace the various individuals and families that inhabit the church; whether they are single people or child-less couples! Be sensitive to their choices; they don't need to justify their singleness or childlessness. That is their choice and we should be respectful and sensitive of that choice.
And in regards to the tick tock! Oh please, oh please let us refrain from using the tick tock on unsuspecting females. We have a tough enough time trying to combat worldly expectations and pressures, without having undue pressures placed upon us by our beloved friends within the church.
So I say 'no', to the tick tock movement because is it deeply disrespectful to wombs, ovaries and fallopian tubes everywhere! I say 'no', to quirky clockwise hand movements that hover over women's abdomens. And I say 'no' to crazy cat lady references; they are both hurtful and deeply disrespectful of the feline species!
But most importantly I say 'yes' to Christians exemplifying a Christ-like attitude of love and respect towards others. Whatever family dynamic or relationship status people within the church inhabit, we must respect their choices and realize that conventional practices and stereotypes are man-made philosophies, not God ones.
Alison Barkley lives in Newcastle and is a post graduate student at Deakin University.
Alison Barkley's archive of articles may be viewed at: www.pressserviceinternational.org/alison-barkley.html