“When are you going to have another one?” Moms, how many times have you been asked that question? Better, how many times have you asked someone else that question?
People began to ask us that when Blake was just a few weeks old, where they (I assume) thought it would be a humorous question to pose, when we were obviously going through the most tiring and difficult moments of our lives. With a colicky baby and a soon-to-be GERD diagnoses (that we were still trying to figure out), I’m pretty sure I answered that question with either an eye-roll, a scowl, a dirty look, or tears streaming down my face. And now, two years later, it is still asked on a continual basis. Some of the conversations that ensue upon my answer are frustrating, and just rude.
Before I go on, this isn’t one of those “5 Things Not To Say to a Mom” posts. In an age of too much political correctness, I really don’t want anyone to walk on egg shells when wanting to ask me a question. Ask me anything! But, please, don’t bash me, belittle me, or question me when you don’t like my answer.
Yesterday I took Blake for his 2 year appointment at the doctor’s office. The nurse who tended to us is one we’ve seen only one time before. As she was checking Blake’s temperature she said “So, now that he is 2, when are you having another?” I’m an honest person. When I answered that it’s likely Blake may be our only, her eyes shot up from the thermometer and with her eye browsed raised, she asked “What? Why? You can’t do that.” When I questioned her back, her response became the robotic one that I seem to hear from most people who want to try to convince me otherwise. He’ll be lonely. He’ll be spoiled. Don’t you miss having a baby around? It’s not fair not to give him a sibling.
What I WANT to say is “Is that all you people can come up with?!?” (meaning, ever other person on the planet who just can’t fathom someone only having ONE child)
Eventually, people who just can’t understand why we may not want to have any more get to these main points, and nothing I say will “shut them up.” It’s frustrating. It’s annoying.
Recently, I read an article where someone said that the way she finally shuts down these conversations is by responding “I stopped at perfection”, as if this affectious answer is supposed to melt the heart of the one asking, causing them to immediately have a respect for the only-child family. Okay, that’s a sweet sentiment and all, and while I think my kid is pretty darn close to being awesome and handsome and smart, (not perfect) and all the good stuff, I don’t want to come up with some “excuse” to explain myself that will falsely shut down my inquisitor. I want my answer to suffice and for people to accept it and not judge me for it. You think not “giving” my child a sibling is unfair? I think you questioning my life decision is unfair, and uncalled for, and sad.
I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had like this. I always remain composed about it because I want people to understand my point of view. They often ask why, and I have a list of reasons ready to defend myself. I don’t mind giving my reasons, it’s the opinions and persuasiveness that comes after that I cannot stand. I don’t go around questioning others and asking why they chose to have more than 1 kid. When I know someone who is pregnant and already has one at home I don’t ask them why they would ever want to bring another child into the world. “Why would you want to do that to the child you already have?”
It sounds pretty preposterous, right? Well, it does to some of us when posed the other way around, too. It’s offensive.
My recent favorite was the cashier at the grocery store who reminded me that children were a blessing after asking this question, to which I didn’t even reply “no”, just, “we aren’t sure yet.” Ringing up my $300 worth of groceries (of course I’d not only picked the slowest cashier on the biggest shopping trip of the month, but also the most opinionated one who used her Christianity to persuade me.) She said I was doing an injustice to my son by not providing him with a larger family and future nieces and nephews.
In the case for an only child, I don’t think the “reasons” are what matters. What matters is respecting a mom for her choices, whether you agree or disagree. I really don’t mind being asked when we would have more kids. I don’t even mind people questioning why, but it’s unnerving the amount of people who badger me about it after I’ve fully answered. I’m not asking for your majority vote. If you don’t want my full and honest answer, then don’t ask.
Don’t ask and I won’t tell you the reasons I have. I’m not going to list them here because the point of writing this is not to defend myself AGAIN. I’m exhausted over it. But, what if it was some medical condition where I was unable to have any more, and I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with the stranger who just asked me this question in the frozen food section at Target, who was lovingly looking at my child and asking my TWO YEAR old if he wanted a brother or sister? Am I supposed to divulge to this stranger my complete medical history in order to squash the “there will be no more kids” debate? Or lie to her in order to get out of the conversation?
Or, maybe if I just said “I can’t have any more” then that would truly end the conversation.
But, when I finish telling you my “reasons”, you may say “but I had a friend go through something similar and she has 3 kids! It won’t be as bad the next time around.”Or (something someone actually told me once) “my friend has a special needs child and she has more than one!”
And I’ll tell you politely that she’s my hero and I respect her for having more than one. For a slight moment I may even feel guilty and I will even judge myself, and think that she’s such a stronger person than I am, and that she must be a better mom for being able to juggle it all, and willing to do it multiple times. I will only think fondly of your friend. Then, my thoughts will return to our conversation and I will pray that any moment you will stop questioning my decision as a person, a wife, and a mom. Because I have failed to make you understand. Or, you have failed to try to understand me, because you are blinded by some perception.
I’ve never felt more judged for anything in my life than I have for being a mom. I’ve posted numerous blog entries about the various topics, too. I just don’t get it.
I often feel like someone is trying to evangelize me during a parenting conversation, most specifically, the “second child” topic. May be I should stop being honest and think of my own “excuse”.
But I also feel like I need to educate people in some twisted way, because they need learn that it’s okay. I’m okay. There’s nothing mentally wrong with me for wanting only one.
I read another article recently that said that people perceive the “perfect” American family to have at least 2 children.
The stubborn side of me wants to tell the “American family” that I’m happy for you and I’m going to keep the only child mindset simply to prove others wrong. That my family and I can be just as happy with our only child.
Look, the truth is, I don’t know what’s in store for our future. We may have more. We may not. The Lord knows.
But just be accepting and respectful of someone’s answers. I am continually shocked at how pressuring and downright rude and passionate people get about this. There are far other pressing issues in the world to be passionate about than the future of my ovaries.