My only daughter is five and so it seems lately I am getting my “favorite” question, “So when are you going to have another one?” I could be at the grocery store and as I am standing in the checkout line, the woman behind me watches me interacting with my daughter, answering her questions and from out of nowhere, I hear, “So is this your only one?” When I meet new mothers for the first time, the cocktail question of “What do you do?” has become “How many children do you have?” Some women have dubbed me selfish for just having one child and others have said, “Don’t you want a backup?” What if something happens to your daughter, don’t you want another one just in case?” I wish I was making up that last question.
I was raised with the idea that some questions you don’t ask like, “How much do you weigh?” or “How much do you make?” or “How much did you pay for that?” or questions related to politics or religion. I’ve learned that most people feel, “When are you going to have another one?” doesn’t make the list of questions you shouldn’t ask.
To confess, it is my own sensitivity to the issue. Everyday in my life, I hear of another friend, acquaintance, and/or blogger becoming pregnant. In the last six months, four women I consider good friends are having a first baby or a second baby. I read posts about some of my fave bloggers either delivering or about to deliver their second or in some cases a third child. There are reminders from my daughter as well. Somedays, she will ask for extra peanut butter on her sandwich and follow-up with, “When am I going to have a brother or sister?” She often tells me that “I can grow another baby in my tummy if I really want to or her latest question is, “Can we rent a brother or sister?”
For the last few months, I’ve wondered what is wrong with me. Why can’t I just do what every woman I know is doing and just have another baby? Why is it so complicated for me? Why do I have to overanalyze it? I’ve decided my hesitation is complicated. First, I have a husband, everyday, who deals with premature babies and I’ve heard stories of healthy mothers who deliver very unhealthy babies. My husband has told me repeatedly, that if you have a healthy child, consider yourself very lucky. If you have more than two that are healthy, you have hit the jackpot. Sometimes knowledge colors the pathways you decide to take. Second, in the last two years, I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of change, losing a father, leaving a career, moving to a new state, and taking on the care of my mother who lives with us. And just recently, I’ve discovered a third revelation. I understand to the nth degree Tina Fey’s statement in her recent article in the New Yorker, “What’s the Rudest Question You Can Ask A Mother?, that “the things that most people do naturally are often inexplicably difficult for me.” And when I read that statement, the proverbial bell rang out in my mind. I’ve never done anything because someone else was doing it. I’ve always thought about my decisions, carefully and with constant deliberation, analyzing all of the what if issues that may or may not happen. This analysis has been amplified after losing my father and realizing that even if you do everything right, things can go horribly wrong.
I’m not closing the door on harboring a new life, but I don’t really want to face answering that question in unexpected moments. Maybe because I am still trying to work it all out. I don’t want to talk about it out loud.
And the biggest reason is it is a question I haven’t answered yet.
How do you answer difficult questions? Do you answer them or evade them? Any hesitation on having a first, second or third child? Do certain things come more natural to you or are you prone to over-thinking? What’s a question you don’t want to answer?