Monday, November 05, 2007

Why aren't you getting fries with that?

"Now, you ask your parents to give you a baby brother!"

We were in the mall (our first mistake) shopping for your jeans when this phrase was directed to you. The woman was strolling her 6-month-old baby; you stopped to admire him. It's true, you love babies.

Here's the thing --- you are too young to understand how and why we make decisions about our family size, but you are not too immature to learn what types of questions are appropriate for strangers (and even friends).

This woman's statement--nay, her commandment--was bothersome. First, why is it that people feel it's o.k. to begin such a private conversation in public? I wouldn't approach a child and say, "Now, you tell your mom to make sure she has that pelvic exam!" I don't ask non-friends "when they are due" or beg to stroke their burgeoning bellies. Why is family size an open topic, acceptable for discussion while shopping at The Children's Place?

Second, I make a point not to suggest how many children a family should produce. Although I don't want to have four children, I'm not going to tell someone she shouldn't have four children. And I want to raise you to be open-minded in regards to this issue. We may choose to keep our family at one child for many reasons. This isn't up for public debate...or is it? It seems that many people think they should tell us what is or isn't correct about our reasoning. One of our reasons is related to quality of life. Not for every family, but for ours. We are teachers on teacher's salaries. We want to travel internationally; to be able to comfortably afford the small house and lifestyle we strive for. We've been told (and I've read) that this reason is, somehow, selfish. What?

Finally, what if this woman's statement was very untimely due to something out of our control? What if we'd been struggling with infertility? What if we'd just lost a baby? What if I'd almost died during my first labor and didn't want to risk my life a second time? What if we were struggling with the question and simply didn't feel like discussing it?

I know that the question of "are you going to have more than one?" is automatic once you have a child. More often than not, I'm not bothered. Friends will say, 'hey, your kid is so cool, and you are such fabulous parents, you should have another!' This isn't what gets me. It's the implication that our sweet girl isn't 'enough' (or that we don't provide enough love); that we haven't broken the mold already.

You are a great daughter, the best. Even when you drive me crazy, I'd never, ever change my decision to become a parent. Maybe we will have two, or maybe we'll just have you (sorry for the rhyme, there). But whatever happens, let's learn together what is o.k. to share and ask, and what isn't. I have the feeling we'll be working on this a lot--you'll be my teacher someday, I'm sure!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what a rude comment from that lady!

- Rachel