Taking P to her aunt’s place during the should-be-illegal a.m. hours, a man started talking to my daughter.
I let them chat and he looked at me, then looked at her, “Your mommy looks tired. Tell her to wake up,” he says. Of course I was tired, but whatever. Immediately after he looks at me, “When are you having another one?” I’m not sure what I went with – a shrug, the “Do you see a ring on this finger?” joke that awkwardly shuts people up. He went on to tell me how I needed to have another because people don’t just have one kid. Did dude not start the conversation with how I look tired? This isn’t an isolated incident. I suppose I got away with not having these conversations for five years, but I should have seen them coming. If I had another child we’d all be homeless. I am also not in a relationship where this is an option, or where we want another child. And if we do, we will. If we do. Not because the gazillionth person – stranger – told me to. But none of this matters, because no one has the fucking right to tell me that I need to get pregnant, that I need to alter the course of my life, need to share my body or that I owe it to anybody to have another child. I remember hearing a friend field these questions, years ago when I was still pregnant. My friend tried to explain that her daughter had cousins and friends, she wasn’t lonely. But the stranger pushed on. As if these people are so concerned for these perfectly healthy, happy children, that there is no biological playmate. On August 18, 2013 blogger Nancy Arnold wrote about being “One and done” and how these questions are more about the interrogator than those expected to answer:
“I started learning that when people would ask me about having more kids and they found my answer unsatisfactory; they’d start projecting their values on me. If they had a huge family, they’d insist having more kids is the best decision. If they had kids that were close together they’d say well maybe I missed my window because having kids too far apart is not ideal. I started really listening to what they were saying instead of just reacting to it.”
I love being a mom and I’m wonderful with kids if I do say so myself. My choice to not further conceive and birth tiny people doesn’t negate this. Just as people who decide to not have children aren’t automatically bad people for their choice. Remember that word, say it out loud: choice. This assumption that women have to reproduce, and that everyone else is entitled to their opinion on when and if she does is just another message saying: ladies, your body is not your own. This is not true. At all. The innocent suggestions: “Oh but you’re a great mother,” “you’d make beautiful kids,” “you owe it to your child,” or my personal favourite – since I am in a relationship with someone who is not P’s father, “You owe it to your boyfriend to have his child.” are far more loaded than some may assume. They are presumptuous, pushing personal ideas of what family is and what women’s roles are, and they are rude. PS I come from a five-kid household, I was the oldest of four girls. P is living my dream by being an only child :p
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