by Allyson Haas
Ah, the Holidays. That special time of year when we spend time with our loved ones, celebrate all that we're thankful for, and when visiting relatives and perfect strangers feel entitled to ask probing personal questions about your uterus. Maybe I’m just super sensitive to the issue, but I find it rude whenever I’m out with C and get the inevitable “Is he your only? Not going to give him a sibling?”
Resisting the overwhelming urge to bust into a rant is a Herculean feat. I want to scream, "what gives you, Ms. Bagger of the groceries, Mr. Scanner of the retail items, Mother at the park to what, in my mind, is an unwieldy number of offspring, the unassuming friend, the friendly doctor and basically every other person who asks, the right to intimate knowledge of my uterus?!"
Firstly, have you ever given thought to why people choose not to have a second child?
Not happening. Perhaps despite wanting and trying for another, their bodies are not able to do so. Thankfully such is not the case in my equation, but why make the person experiencing this feel even more upset than they assuredly already do?!
The Baby Blues. Perhaps after having one kid and suffering from terrible postpartum depression that consumed their lives for nearly three years, they chose to simply not go through that again. This was the case in my situation, and I think we really need to start talking about this (and other uncomfortable topics) more. Once, when I just couldn’t handle the annoyance of the question, I let loose on a stranger and shared the postpartum struggle. I half expected that response would shut them up but no, they went on to say, “You know there’s drugs for that.” I wanted to punch said @$$hole in the face, but societal norms dictate otherwise, so I mustered a gentle chuckle.
Three is enough. Perhaps another reason someone may not want to have a second child is because she enjoys her current lifestyle and feels her family is complete as a unit of three. Have you gotten on a plane of late?! Ticket prices are (pun intended) sky high and little ones past the age of three, despite the fact that they still enjoy sitting on your lap, require the purchase of their own seat. If you are lucky enough to travel with said child, are you aware of the unbelievable amount of crap you have to carry around to facilitate their inclusion in the trip? Car seats, plane seats, strollers, etc. I can barely manage the stuff with one; two is unimaginable.
Education. If you don’t have children you may be gloriously unaware of the issues currently threatening the public education system. Creativity in the classroom? Gone. Imagination? Also gone. Time to meet each child where they are developmentally? A near impossibility when 80% of class time is spent prepping for a test that is by no means an accurate gauge of what your child is capable of. So needless to say, there’s the matter of a private school education. Have you seen what that costs?? And no, I won't be homeschooling, but thanks for that suggestion.
Sibling, schmibling. Then there’s the “but they need a sibling! They need a guaranteed friend in life” argument. I understand this perspective. But while I love my sister dearly and cannot fathom a life without her, wanting that relationship for my child is not enough to make me want to have another child. I need to want that child in and of himself enough that I am ready to understand and appreciate that they are their own entity. Who is to guarantee that the siblings will even get along? I know many a folk who would willingly sell their sibling in return for a downpayment on a house. I'd rather teach C the joy of making friends and being a friend, which will guarantee that he will have friends whom he considers family around him to fuel his journey. And that amazing sister I mentioned? She has two kids whom Caleb adores and happily FaceTimes with. And we actually get to see them three or four times a year, which, given our geographical distance, is pretty impressive. (and 100% due to my sister’s ability to coordinate schedules and vacations. This is a skill I decidedly lack). Also, Caleb has three cousins from on dad’s side as well. The kid's not exactly lacking in similarly-aged familial companions.
Childcare. Last, but certainly not least is the most important of the issues that caused me to put pen to paper in the first place. Without family in the relative vicinity (and I mean anywhere that doesn’t require a trip on a plane) I have no one to help me raise these kids. The Haasband is helpful of course, but he works long hours, and we don’t have a nanny because I chose to stay home with my child. Which is, as I’ve previously written, quite an expensive undertaking. So while I’m not bringing any money in, I can’t justify paying money out for the exact job I’m supposed to be doing myself.
Right now, having a second child exceeds the bandwidth of my current data plan.
So to all those nosy folk who feel they have the right to pry into my most personal of bits, I want to ask you a few “innocent” questions:
Are you willing to come over and babysit once a week?
Are you willing to help me pay for this kid’s education?
Are you willing to help me get on a plane with two children by myself to take a five-hour flight to visit my family?
If the answer to even one of these questions is a resounding NO, then I feel I have the right to tell you to SHOVE IT when you ask me about my plans for any future uterine residents.