Pulling into the parking lot, I press my foot on the brake and shift into park. I look around and wonder how many people I’ll run into today.  Will the cashier say something ridiculous like last time? Or will I make it out of the store unscathed? I know the latter is unlikely, but one can hope.

I press open the door and a chime announces my arrival. Walking to the health and beauty aisle, I scan the store. A clerk organizes candy bars on an end cap. A young girl squats over the nail polish, analyzing each color to find the perfect shade. And the light pole on lane number one is lit; it’s the only open register with a seemingly quiet, unassuming older woman filling the role of cashier. She gently grasps the dollar bills handed to her, replaces them with a few small coins, and softly thanks the customer for coming in. Maybe this will go well. I thought.

One of my friends once told me that the best place to buy a pregnancy test is at the dollar store. Why purchase an overpriced, digital indicator when a chintzy, one-dollar version will provide the same results? Ever since, once a year, I save myself some cash, head to the dollar store and snag a handful of pregnancy tests.

Setting five pink boxes on the belt, I pull out my dollar bills and try not to make eye contact. With one glance at the product I’m buying, the cashier’s eyes glimmer.

Giggling to drop an egg

“I hope this is good news for you!” She exclaims.

I plaster a fake smile on my face and laugh awkwardly. As she slides each box across the scanner, I know this is not the end of our conversation.

“My husband and I had a really hard time getting pregnant.” Oh boy, here we go. I thought. “My dad is an OB and he told me that instead of getting stressed, I needed to do a lot of giggling. He told my husband to take me to a movie and giggle; because when you giggle, then an egg will drop.”

Trying to contain the giggle that nearly burst out of my mouth, I raise my eyebrows and stick with a safe, “Wow.”

“And guess what? I have 5 boys, 3 girls and a grandbaby. So… it worked!”

I hand her my money and bite my lip to keep a smirk from spreading.

With an assuming toothy grin, she hands me my bag and sends me on my way with an endorsement. “Just remember! Tell your husband to take you to a movie and do a lot of giggling!”

If giggling truly were the magic sauce, there’s no doubt I would have dropped an egg maybe even two, the moment I walked out of the dollar store. Shaking my head, and laughing to myself, I slide into the driver’s seat. “Are you kidding me?” I say out loud to no one.

An inappropriate assumption

Here’s the thing. I didn’t walk into the store giddy with excitement. I didn’t smile at the cashier and say, “Oh my gosh… I can’t wait to go home and pee in a cup!” I went to buy a test hopeful that my period would appear before I even had the chance to rip into the silver foil packaging and drip three drops of urine into the sample well of the device.

I understand that the cashier didn’t know that my husband and I don’t want kids right now, that the question brings stress, or that the cultural pressure to have kids when you’re a childless, married woman sometimes feels like a hundred-pound squat rack resting on the soft flesh of my shoulders, but therein lies the problem.

Why is the default to assume that every woman wants to be a mother?

Content with being childless

I stuffed my pajamas with my teddy bear, imagining I was pregnant, like most little girls. But over the past couple years I’ve wondered, what if I don’t want to have kids?

Wrestling with this counter-cultural question, I’ve been tempted to believe that my role in this world doesn’t matter as much because I’m not currently taking on the job of mama. But as I’ve spent time asking the Lord what He has in store for our lives, I’ve learned to believe the truth that I do not have to be a mom to be significant.  

Nowhere in scripture does it say that women must have children. Nowhere does it say that if you have kids, then God will love you more. Kids or no kids, we are significant. Our Creator loves us no matter what.

I don’t know what our future holds, but right now, I’m content with not having children. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the unwelcome advice frustrated me; not because I was offended, which I wasn’t, but because it validates the fact that we desperately need to communicate the truth that our identity as women is not based on whether we mother children.

Supporting each other

The next time I need a pregnancy test, I will most likely wait the two days it takes for Amazon to deliver a package to my doorstep; but if I decide to risk another encounter, here’s what I’d wish to say.

Let us be cautious, dear women, with the words we say to each other about motherhood.

As tempting as it might be to share your experience, or even well-intended words of encouragement with a woman buying a pregnancy test, take a breath and remind yourself that you do not know her story. You don’t know if she’s excited to be a mom, dreading a positive test, fearful of another negative, or if the test is even for her.

Instead of entering into an intimate discussion, look her in the eye and ask about her day. Tell her you like her shirt. Or even comment on the weather. If she wants to talk about the potentially life-changing product she’s buying, let her begin the conversation.

This simple act of focusing on the woman who stands in front of you is a visible representation of a truth that she might desperately need to be reminded of: she is significant, right now, no matter what the future holds.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up.” Together, let’s be women who live out this passage; let’s see each other’s differences and proclaim, “You are significant.”