This is very non-Valentine related (for which, I’m sure some of you are grateful). It does have a lot to do with love, though, so it’s relevant.
At this point in my life, most of my married friends are producing their second offspring. I keep getting asked by many people (family, friends, complete strangers at Target) when we are having another one. The polite answer is, “we are considering only having one.” This elicits looks that range from shock to scorn. To be frank, this annoys the hell out of me.
Just like the dreaded, “When are you guys having kids?” question which, to be honest, is not really anyone’s business but our own. Please allow me to give you a non-exhaustive list of situations where this unsolicited request for information and prying may be offensive:
- If the couple in question is having financial problems, but they would like to have a child, and they feel it is irresponsible at the time.
- If the couple wants another child, but there are health or fertility issues at play. This one is especially bad because it is really emotionally painful and terribly sensitive to the person in the couple with the issue. When your body fails you, you have horrible guilt about it sometimes, and it will wreck you emotionally. Adding in random strangers figuratively probing your gonads to see if they are working does not help. (Shout out to all my friends who have this issue. I’m saying this on your behalf because I love you and respect your privacy).
- If the couple is planning to adopt, but they don’t feel like telling you about it because they are not sure it will happen for them, or because people get all weird about adoption (that is a story for an entirely different post).
- If the couple is having marital problems.
- If the couple’s first child is having expensive health issues.
- If the couple’s first child has developmental issues that you are not privy to.
- If the couple is secretly brother and sister and they are just happy their first baby doesn’t have two heads (ok, that one is a stretch, but I don’t want to seem too angry, so there’s your humor for the post).
- If the couple really only wants one child for their own set of reasons that you are not privy to because, let’s be honest, it’s none of your freaking business to begin with, and if they want you to know, they’ll tell you about it.
- If the couple has considered the fact that not all siblings get along, and just having them around is no guarantee of their kid not being lonely.
I get the negative sides to raising an only child: my kid could be lonely, my kid may wish he had siblings in the future, my kid may want someone to share memories with in the future when we are gone, my kid may be self-absorbed and/or anti-social, etc.
Allow me to inform you of some of the benefits: my kid gets 100% of our attention when we are with him, which is working wonders on his social skills and learning, my kid gets the benefit of all of our limited resources, we can potentially become debt free earlier on (securing the funds to place him in a good school in the future), my kid won’t have to worry about student loans, my kid already has a decent amount of savings because we can afford it, etc. I could go on, but I won’t.
I’m not saying having more than one child is bad. Please don’t misunderstand me. I love my sister, and she is awesome, and I’m glad she’s around. I get it. I just don’t find it to be the best plan for our family. I know a lot of siblings who don’t even speak. I know that inheritance issues get iffy. I also know that as we get older, we do need those important people in our lives, but you know who is under-appreciated in that equation? Cousins. Hello, I have awesome cousins, as well as a sister, with whom I share rich childhood memories and memories of my parents during that time.
This post doesn’t mean that we won’t have another child. It also does not disclose which reason applies to my husband, son, and me. That is none of your business –unless I choose to share it with you. I love my husband and son in a fiercely loyal way that will cut you if you mess with them. I am, after all, pretty gangsta.
I say this not out of rudeness, but out of a desire to help myself and others set boundaries and make certain that you know your place in the scheme of my ovaries. They are, of course, mine and not yours. If we are close, it is likely that I will share this with you at some point because it is not a secret; it is simply my information to share and not yours to request unless we have a very close friendship or family relationship. Even then, it could be touchy for some of the reasons listed above.
The point of all of this is to remind people to be respectful of other people’s decisions. Just because you chose something else does not mean that a different choice is bad. It is simply different. It may work better for the people involved. Perhaps they will regret it one day, cry to you, and you can cross your arms, shake your head, judge them, and condescendingly tell them that you were right. Somehow, though, that seems counterproductive to friendship and love for others; if you like that type of thing, you’re probably not a person I would share my plans with anyway.
Happy Valentine’s Day!