So, what do you want to be when you grow up? Are you ready for college? What’s your major? Are you seeing anyone? When are you going to get married? So when are you going to have kids? Is it a boy or girl? Natural birth or c-section? More kids? When are you moving your baby out of your room? Isn’t he ready to be potty-trained by now? What are you going to do when they are in school? Are you going back to work? In life, there is always a survey attached to important milestones. With every question, social pressure is not far behind. It’s not our fault. The questions are just there. Well, you gotta ask…how else will the conversation keep going, right? “Wow! You have your hands full.” (Say it with me moms, HA! Haven’t heard that one before).
I asked my mom friends what milestone questions they are tired of hearing, and the most common across the board was whether they were going to try for more kids. Also, an equally common question for families with all girls or all boys are asked if they are going to try for the opposite sex. So, we have been trained that a family has to have a balance of all sexes, and if you don’t meet that criteria, you must keep trying, because anything other than that is abnormal. This trend of a person’s value measured by a societal norm really needs to stop. If a family wants one child…Yay! If they want six…Yay! Also, we really should tread lightly on asking questions like these to couples without kids, because they may be struggling with infertility or they have actually made a decision not to have kids after multiple miscarriages. Why does everyone and their cousin (even strangers at the supermarket) ask if we want to have more kids? Maybe I’m being a bit too graphic here, but it is almost like they are invading your private sex life? So, perhaps that is why we are so annoyed? That, or we have the kind of children who ask 200 questions a day, so just one…more…question is going to tip us over the edge. We are only human. These questions just get blurted out. But on the other hand, however annoyed we are, we can be susceptible to the same social programming ourselves.
I made a huge mistake once while talking to a new mother. She was talking about her plans to go back to work, and I made the comment, “I couldn’t imagine going back to work away from my kids.” At the time, I didn’t realize that it was rude, but I think about it often and greatly regret my remark. Why on earth did I say that? I can guarantee you, that the phrase “Mom shame her right now!” was never in my head before I spoke. Now, I sometimes believe the lie that I have no true value, because I have decided to make a home once my children are school-age. I never want to devalue working moms, nor do I want to devalue the countless women who, from the nanosecond my son turned 2-years-old, asked when my son started pre-school. They didn’t know that I was under pressure for staying home. They didn’t know my situation. There needs to be a balance. Yes, we are frustrated by these questions, but we need to offer a little bit of grace to those who ask. It could be a situation similar to mine, where they might not really realize that their questions have been asked before, or that it is a touchy subject. They could just be going with the flow, and trying to socialize as best they know how. I don’t think harm is normally the cause behind most people asking questions and giving advice. If a mother wants to be surprised of the sex of her baby, don’t act like it is your right to know. And if someone unknowingly asks you for the umpteenth time if you are “done” having kids, never underestimate the power of humor, and reply with something like, “I’m never done. I’m medium-rare.” Try to train yourself to be empathetic, no matter who you are talking to. As for me, my new challenge is to stick to the old classics: “Nice day, isn’t it?” or “Seen any good movies lately?”
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 ESV