I want what lots of parents want: to plan two kids and to have a third one by accident. That’s the middle-class dream! Then again, I might not have another child. Why are you asking? What’s it to you? Stop thinking about me trying to have another kid. It’s freaking me out.
There are many milestones to achieve as an adult: graduation, international travel, first home, marriage, children, career changes. As anyone who goes through major life events knows, life is not so much the things that happen, but the questions you have to answer about them.
I present an adult life in questions:
Where are you going to college? What are you going to study? When are you going to graduate? Did you get that job? Where are you working now? Didn’t you work there in high school? Are you seeing anyone? Are you still seeing that someone? Are you getting married? When is the wedding? Where is the honeymoon? Where do you live? Do you buy or rent? When are you going to have kids? Are you pregnant? It’s because you’re pregnant, right? When are you due? Where are you going to have it? Boy or a girl? Who watches her during the day? Does she talk yet? Do you want any more? Are you going to have any more? When’s the second one coming? Where is she going to kindergarten? Where is your daughter going to college? Is she seeing anyone? Are they getting married? Are they going to give you grandkids? When are you going to retire? Do you think you’ll live to be 100? Are you breathing? Where did you put your will?
The line of questioning I am at in my life is “Are you going to have any more?” Because when people see me they think, “She looks like she has an extra 10 grand to afford child care for another one.” Thanks, I think! The fact that I wear the same three outfits every week must give the impression that I’ve saved all that disposable income for the next child. I have not.
I field this question often, and I have asked it often. It’s a simple question to the person who is inquiring about it, but it’s such a heavy idea to think about. When I think more about the question, it seems really personal and odd that anyone asks it so casually. Someone might as well happily ask, “What’s your biggest fear?” or “What do you think about immigration reform?” and expect a prompt one-word answer. I want what lots of parents want: to plan two kids and to have a third one by accident. That’s the middle-class dream! Then again, I might not have another child. Why are you asking? What’s it to you? Stop thinking about me trying to have another kid. It’s freaking me out.
Because there is an answer to that question doesn’t mean I have to answer it truthfully. “Yes, eventually” is about as good as I can do. My real answer involves some reports and a spreadsheet with negative numbers and clashes with the serene feeling I get when my daughter asks me to hold and feed her doll Lulu. My friends and I basically stalk each other’s uteri, guessing that whenever a girlfriend declines alcohol or has a different diet she must be pregnant. In our social circles someone is always pregnant, and it basically becomes a game of Clue to figure out who. Guessing who’s pregnant is an opposite murder mystery.
It’s easy to look past difficulties in getting pregnant, or partner issues, or money problems, or that no more or any kids are in an otherwise fertile person’s future when you think you’re just asking a simple question.
I don’t know what answer people want when they ask. Maybe “Yes, I’m pregnant, you win the guessing game,” or “No, do you know anyone who wants twelve boxes of stained baby clothes?” More realistically, they’re not invested at all in the answer, and are just chitchatting. Maybe I should take “Are you going to have any more?” as a compliment, like that question is really saying, “You have made the perfect child…can you do it again?”
Uh…I don’t know. Eventually?
Photo by: debaj