Reader Taryn won our latest round of the Caption This contest, her prize was the ability to name any topic on which I would write a post around. Here’s what she sent me:
So I started following your blog when you posted the link on the October 2010 whattoexpect board. I don’t really ever go on there anymore but since we both have 16 month olds I assume you are now getting the question of “when are you going to have another baby?” Now I don’t know about you but I am not ready for that yet. Could you write a blog about the pros and cons of having a 2nd baby close in age and the pros and cons of waiting a while? You’re hilarious so I am sure it will be entertaining as hell and then maybe people will stop asking that question!!
Oh Taryn! How I completely agree with you! In the interest of full disclosure, on the way home from the ranch Sunday, Lover fo’ Life discussed this very topic, and I informed him I needed to “write a post” about this exact issue. So to you, my dear from the very beginning subscriber, I will happily write about your topic. Only, instead of this being a POST ON REQUEST, I’ve got to say, this post is completely straight from the Vault AKA my HEART.
POST ON REQUEST: Please Help Control the Busybody Population, Have Your Tongue Spayed or Neutered
Life is a series of awkward conversations revolving around unspoken expectations and steadfast unwritten rules of Adulthood.
When you were younger, inquisitive strangers and Memaws in public situations would ask you “What’s your favorite subject in school?” You’d stare at them blankly and secretly wish they’d burst into flames, eventually you’d sputter out a random subject, though in all honesty, you hated every single stinking minute you were cooped up, chained to a desk.
And then, as a young adult in your early 20′s, you were approached by every single sap who asked, “have you found the right person yet?” followed quickly by “when are you getting engaged?” “have you set a date?” And of course the humdinger, once you’re married, the inevitable happens, people will ask the age-old question: “When are you popping out a kid?”I robotically answered and gave lifeless, canned responses all throughout the process of growing up, never letting people’s banal conversation ruffle me.
For several years, L4L and I tried to make Angry Baby, but we were unsuccessful, I had to steel myself against nosy strangers exchanging mere pleasantries. Every time a random person or mild acquaintance would ask me, “When are you going to have kids?” I wanted to cry and scream, “LOOKS LIKE NEVER, YOU PRYING SLUT!” But I didn’t, I came up with an automatic (and cheery) response, repeating it each time someone asked…
“Yes, we do want children. We’re trying! HAHA!”
Then I became knocked up with Angry Baby and the invasive questions ceased to bother me. I was happy to discuss my pregnancy with anyone who cared enough to ask. My inner eye-rolls turned to jovial conversations with strangers. I thought it was all over. By having a child, I had satiated the mythological she-beast of societal expectations and invasive questions.
Once Angry Baby was here, strangers and relatives focused on my precious (albeit screaming 99% of the time,) baby. Sure, there were Nosey Roseys asking me specific parenting questions: did I breastfeed? how did I have her? etc…but it didn’t really phase me because I had my hands full wrangling a wiggling little grubworm. As Angry Baby grew and completed her first successful year on Earth, I finally started to feel like I might be getting the hang of this whole parenting business, ready to embrace the next 2 decades of being Angry Baby’s mom.
But there’s just one problem. The burden of inquiry has reared it’s ugly, invasive head. Biddys and strangers everywhere have begun once again to get up in my business, my lady business.
These days, I can’t leave the house without someone asking me when I plan on incubating a 2nd babyfriend in my uterus. Well, they don’t ask that specifically, but we all know that’s what Nosey Rosey means. Here are just a few of the comments and questions I field on a near daily basis…
- “Awww, she’s precious. When are you having another?”
- “Baby needs a brother or sister, children need siblings.”
- “How many do you want?”
My womb has become the set of the classic daytime game show, The Price is Right. Every dipwad that asks about MORE BABIES is the audience, a bunch of
unwashed freaks jumping fools, just itching for the chance to guess the number of children that will shimmy out of me eventually.
Why, I can hear Rod Roddy, the flamboyant, late announcer for the show, pleading with my biological clock… ”Come on Doooooowwwwn! You’re the next contestant on the Procreation is Riiiight!”
Bob Barber and his bevy of beauties might as well be standing by my “King Maker,” skinny microphone and all, waiting to greet the future fruit of my loins. It’s all out there, for the public to watch and play from home.
This past weekend, I was playing with Angry Baby while I waited for White Lightning to get its oil changed, when I was approached by the clerk. The kind, well-meaning grandma of 4 boys followed the usual formula of small talk these days.
“How old is she?”
“Oh, I’ll bet you are in heaven with such a little sweetie.”
Something like that.
“Is she your first?”
I prepared for the inevitable inquiry into my uterus business.
“Well, it’s about time for you to give her a brother or sister.”
I nervously chuckled, thrown off by the cutting directness of the statement. She obviously picked up on it, because memaw then went on to lecture me for the next 2 minutes, “Babies get bored alone. Children need a brother or sister to keep them company. You don’t want a weird kid.”
I quickly constructed an excuse to get the heck out of her direct line of fire, calmed myself and got away from the potential scene that was about to unfold. Angry Baby was giggling and laughing the entire time, chuckling at the notion of a potential
minion sibling, a partner in crime.
Take this scenario, change the players, and you’d have the blueprint for 30% of my public interactions these days. Angry Baby has clearly hit the age bracket where life has decided I’ve had enough time to recover from the shock and stress of bringing Angry Baby to life. The time for L4L and I to have a showcase showdown in the bedroom and make another one is upon us, according to the world.
For the most part I grin and bear it. I’m a great polite faker when I need to be, and to be perfectly honest? I prefer to lie to these poor people simply attempting to make small talk about my small one. The truth is far more complicated and messy.
“I only want one child,” is treated in our society like a veto of parenthood. “Yes, we tried it, kids are dix and we’re not making that same mistake again.”
As a parent, I’m supposed to act like my kid poops rainbows and I want a house full o’ babies. For many people, that’s the case, but for tons, like myself…it’s not that simple.
It took us years to have our baby, and I almost peaced out from living during the process, so did she. Guess what? I think Angry Baby would prefer a mother, ALIVE over having a sibling she can fight with. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. As I continue to heal from the gut-wrenching experience, yes…16 months later I’m still healing in my abdomen. My mind and heart open to having another child, but that’s not today. Today I have my hands full.
Of course, I have many friends with multiple children, L4L and I both were the first of 3 kids in our houses, we understand the importance of the sibling bond. But that doesn’t mean the clam shack is open for baby making business.
Consider this post a humble request. Stop making small talk about people’s plans for children, period. Ask about everything else your nosy little mind desires, but get out of the kid-percolating speculation business.
1. It’s unoriginal.
Everyone cracks the same babymaking jokes, and none of them are funny when they come from a stranger in the grocery line. Guess what, your platitudes aren’t wise either.
2. It’s a sore subject. For EVERYONE.
Unless someone is visibly pregnant, they will most likely get offended by your HAVE MORE KIDS(!) campaign. Chances are they have their hands full and can’t fathom taking on more responsibility OR they ARE trying to make another. Either way, it’s never a good idea to bring it up with a stranger OR semi-acquaintance.
To the world, I say the following: we’ll have more kids when we darn well please. But for now, let’s just enjoy the magical times
and buckets of drama that babies, even JUST ONE (gasp!) provide.
So Unless you want me to show you my inner Bob Barker (in the classic film, Happy Gilmore,) FIND ANOTHER TOPIC PEOPLE.