Stop asking mums this question
There’s one question this mother wishes people would stop asking...
December 16 2016
I can't even remember the first time I was asked this question, though I suspect it came shortly after my first baby.
The moment people stopped asking when I planned to have a baby, they were asking when I planned to have a second. And I never quite got used to being asked that question. Though strangers would never dream of asking me what I earned or how often I had sex, but they thought that asking me about my future reproductive plans was acceptable.
Making babies was always stressful for me. I had several miscarriages and difficult pregnancies, and I had no idea each time whether I’d be able to make another.
So there was never a simple answer to the question “Are you going to have another one?”. I want to, I might have said, but I don’t know if I can. I’ve tried, I might have said, but it ended badly. I’m terrified I won’t be able to, I might have said, and I’m trying to accept that it may not happen.
But I didn’t want to go into such intimate detail with a casual acquaintance. And so I would say “Maybe,” or “I don’t know”, or give a wry laugh and act like my hands were already full. And every time I’d resent, just a little more each time, being asked such a personal question.
Many people don’t have a simple answer to the question “Are you going to have another one?” Many people are battling with fertility, and the outcome is out of their hands. Many people are praying desperately for another child and even hearing the question causes pain.
And many people decide not to have another baby, for reasons too private to share with others. Perhaps they have a child with special needs and don’t want to risk another. Perhaps they themselves have medical issues and can’t put themselves through the trauma of another pregnancy. Perhaps they’re simply not coping all that well with the child they have, and want to stop at one. Perhaps they just can’t afford to add to their family. Or perhaps – gasp! – they just don’t want one.
Whatever their individual reasons, they don’t need to be shared with anyone else. It’s no one’s business what a woman decides to do with her womb. And we need to stop focusing so much on a woman’s highly personal reproductive choices.
DOES IT EVER END?
I thought being asked “Are you going to have another one?” would stop after my second child. But even then it didn’t. It persisted for the six and a half years until I had my third. Then, finally, I felt it would end. I was nearly 40 years old with three kids. Why would anyone even assume I’d have more?
Well, I’m now 46 and divorced. And the last time I was asked if I was going to have another baby was just a couple of months ago. This time, however, I didn’t feel pained or torn. I simply turned
to the person asking the question and laughed. “Another baby? Are you kidding me?”