What to Expect When You’re NOT Expecting

BY  |  Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012 2:00pm  |  COMMENTS (9)

A friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook last week. It was of her daughter, who starts Kindergarten next month, entering daycare for the last time. A big moment. A milestone. Certainly a bittersweet one. The first person to comment underneath the picture said, “Time to have another baby.” Not knowing the relationship between this person and my friend, I resisted the urge to call him a tool for all the world to see in a corresponding comment. I did, however, want to reach through my computer screen and smack him.

Why do people feel the need to say these things? Of all of the comments you can make, THAT is the first one that comes to mind?

My wife and I have one child. For reasons both within and beyond our control, there is a strong probability we will not have a second child. We have come to accept this. Instead of fretting about whether to have a second, and when; instead of stressing over all of the emotional, financial, and psychological factors that enter into the baby-having equation, we’ve decided to stop and enjoy life. We are at peace with that decision.

Now only if everyone else were too.

But people can’t help themselves. Why? Why do they need to question, assume, and prod? What possesses someone to tell my child that she will have a little brother or sister someday? How do they know? Can they predict the future?

Contrary to what others may believe or practice, we do not share the sordid details from the bedroom with our five year-old. And since she doesn’t know what else to say – because she’s FIVE –  she responds to these inappropriate comments by telling people that my wife is in fact pregnant. Or she’ll say we’re taking a long time. Both have happened before. And that opens the door for assumptions. Assumptions about – what else – our sex life and our perceived fertility problems. Why are you so interested in whether we’re procreating? That’s creepy if you ask me. 

People also look for any opportunity for us to have another baby. Even when there is none. Like when one of us changes jobs, gets a pay increase, or saves a ton of money by switching to Geico. Someone will inevitably and enthusiastically say, “Now you can have a second.” Wait… what? How does one have anything to do with the other? That’s not what we were thinking. Why is it what you were thinking? Why is it the FIRST THING you were thinking? Again, why is it any of your business?

Or if we’re spending an evening alone, away from our daughter, we’ll get, “Mark your calendar. You’ll have a baby nine months from tonight. Wink. Wink.” There are ways of preventing conception, just so ya know. Couples are known to do that… on purpose. Bizarre as that may seem. But thank you for your rude innuendo.

They just assume another child is coming eventually. God forbid if my wife isn’t drinking at a social event, or if she passed on the shrimp cocktail. Their immediate response is, “Are you pregnant?” No. Stop asking. You’re annoying.

Gossip. Nosiness. Assumptions. That’s what we get.

We also get pity. Because, for some reason, people think our family is incomplete. Family, friends, acquaintances. They’re all guilty. We appreciate the concern. But I am being sincere when I say that we are the best judge of what we need. We have decided for now we are one-child people.  Whatever our reasons are, they are our reasons.

This just works for us. Take a good look our family. Don’t we look happy? Content? Shouldn’t that be enough for everyone? It is for us. That’s all that matters.

Justin is a husband, dad, and writer who also blogs about the adventures of parenting his one child at Daddy Knows Less.

9 Comments

  1. POSTED BY uptowndowntown  |  August 22, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

    Good post. I cannot believe people tell your daughter she’ll have a brother or sister someday.

  2. POSTED BY jdmannato  |  August 22, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

    Thank you, @uptown. And yes. Believe it or not, it’s happened on more than one occasion. You know what happens when you assume…

  3. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  August 22, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

    I love this post. I’m an only child and people would constantly ask me if I wanted a brother or sister. When my mom remarried, it got out of control. And each time I would say, “No. I don’t want a sister or brother. I’m happy being the only child.” And I was.

  4. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  August 22, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. It is unbelievable how intrusive, insensitive or just plain oblivious people can be. We have a six-year-old and actually do want a second child. Due to age related fertility issues it is highly unlikely to happen, so we are trying to adopt. I am struck by how many people ask if we have “just” the one as though one isn’t adequate. Or how many people question us about having a second. But my favorite comment is the one I hear almost every time we mention adopting. That as soon as we adopt we’ll get pregnant. It is so tempting to respond that we are adopting because we heard adoption was the major cure for infertility. People don’t realize what a hurtful comment that is and how that demeans adoption.

    Our son is happy and well adjusted. I hope we will have a second child but as far as my son is concerned, he is just fine with the family he already has.

  5. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  August 23, 2012 @ 9:04 am

    “We are at peace with that decision.”

    are you? The level of offense you seem to take at well-meaning interest might indicate otherwise.

  6. POSTED BY jdmannato  |  August 23, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    Yes, @rightofcenter. We are. If it wasn’t true I wouldn’t write it.

    I am reporting on experiences here. And my experience has been these comments are not well-meaning. They’re intrusive and often rude. And just because they annoy me, and I choose to share that experience, doesn’t mean I am not at peace with our decision. Why can’t both be true?

    But I appreciate your concern, and your taking the time to read and comment.

  7. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  August 23, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

    In the “Why can’t both be true?” department might also go, well-meaning interest which can be intrusive and rude. I’m convinced that life’s interactions are less offensive, in general, if we focus on the well-meaning part and not so much on the why-can’t-everyone-behave-as-I-would-like-them-to part.

    But, after all, this is the internet. There is a guaranteed constituency willing to validate any kind of outrage or offense.

  8. POSTED BY jdmannato  |  August 24, 2012 @ 4:45 am

    I think I’m a pretty good judge of well-meaning vs. rude, being as I was there for all of the instances I mentioned. I’m sorry you don’t agree with my feelings.

  9. POSTED BY ihateplaydates  |  August 24, 2012 @ 9:25 am

    So, given your feelings about people’s rudeness in this situation, I hope you (and others) can imagine what it’s like to be an adoptive family. the range of insensitivity I’ve experienced is stunning. Frankly, though, it’s the more subtle stuff that hurts more–the friends who don’t tell me my kids are “cute,” even as they tell other friends standing in the same room; the doctor who, the week after my new baby comes home to us, doesn’t congratulate me or give me one of the New Baby Kits sitting right on his desk; the people who stare through an entire meal without so much as a small smile…I could go on. It’s not only hurtful–it’s invasive.

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