My youngest son starts primary school this September. I’m incredibly excited about this.
I’m excited for him, of course, because he loves nursery and I know he’s only going to love this move even more but I’m even more excited because I get more time to write.
Currently I have to squeeze writing books and my OU assignments in the two hours he’s away, early mornings when everyone is asleep and the weekend. I also have to fit it in around my self-sabotaging, procrastinating tendencies.
With this move, I will get five whole hours of actual time during the day, when I can concentrate on getting work done. It’s fantastic.
Unfortunately this next stage has raised some uncomfortable, personal questions.
To be clear: none of them are asked with malice or judgement but they’re still questions that tend to bring out a lil bitta rage in me.
“When are you trying for number three?”
“He’s starting school? Time for another baby then.”
“Two boys? When are you going to try for that girl?”
Even writing these out makes me completely baffled as to why we have let this be part of normal conversation with relative strangers?
Growing up with an Irish Mammy, I am somewhat used to this line of questioning regarding children – it comes with the territory – but these have been genuine questions from people I barely know and I don’t understand why they think it’s perfectly ok to ask this?
These aren’t new.
The umbilical cord hadn’t fallen off my first-born before we were being asked when we were going to try for our second.
“Don’t want them to be lonely.”
“Only children are spoilt.”
All the usual bullshit, you name it, I’ve heard it.
After my second son was born it was:
“Ah, you’ll need a girl to finish up.”
Hang on a second, I’m still waddling around in those super attractive paper pants you sport after childbirth and you’re telling me I’m not done yet?
Shut the front door, ladies, you’ve just put your body through hell and back but Sandra from down the road has informed me you’d better get back to it and pop out that girl you’re missing out on!
I never knew my empty womb could cause such concern to those around me. Look at it, sitting idle, like some sort of lazy bastard.
But wait, there’s more!
Not only can I have too little, I can also have too many.
From what I can gather the rules are:
1 child = bad
2 children of the same sex = also bad
2 children of different sexes = good, stop breeding.
3 children, all of the same sex = you should stop but we’ll give you sympathy and make you feel like you’ve failed because you couldn’t breed a mix.
3 children with a mix of boys and girls = you’ve done your part for the human race, stop.
4 children and above = FOR GOODNESS SAKE, KEEP YOUR LEGS TOGETHER.
I can genuinely say, with hand-on-heart sincerity, that I don’t give a rat’s ass if Steve from the school gates has viable sperm. I don’t feel the need to ask him, outside my child’s classroom (or anywhere else for that matter) why he’s not busy lobbing the stuff at his wife to help increase the human race, so why on earth does he feel it’s ok to ask me why I’m not having number three?
I’ve gotten better at making ‘no’ a complete sentence in various aspects of my life but giving that answer to the ‘Are you planning on having any more children?’ question doesn’t seem to provide people with enough in-depth information to my private life.
I have been a culprit of this too. I have asked these questions to people and it’s something I feel really shitty about now. It’s none of my damn business when or if you even want kids. I don’t know what you’ve been through or if you’re even compelled to have children. You want seven of them? Cool. You want 42 iguanas because children are bloody awful, go for it. It’s none of my business nor is it anyone else’s and you shouldn’t have to explain this – so don’t.
If you feel the urge to ask a woman about her plans regarding children, I beg you not to. You have no idea what she has gone through up to this point. Maybe she has never wanted any but feels unnecessary guilt about having to explain this choice to complete strangers all the time. Maybe she desperately wants children but has fertility issues. Perhaps she has suffered multiple miscarriages and feels like a failure. Maybe she decided on adoption and wasn’t approved or maybe she has been so traumatised by pregnancy or loss of a baby that she can’t face even trying again.
If you’re now at a loss as to what you can talk about with people, stick to the weather. If a person wants to talk about children or their plans, let them be the ones to bring it up. If a woman is not drinking at a social event, bite your damn tongue before asking ‘are you pregnant?’ If they’ve been married for a few years and there’s no sign of kids, don’t ask ‘what’s taking so long?’
Trust me on this, you are not the first person to ask them this question and they don’t need an inquisition into their personal life at any time, so please: mind your own womb.
Now, if you excuse me, I have further research to do on finding out if I can exchange my children online for some iguanas.