Are You Having More Kids?

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This week, as I leisurely strolled my two toddlers in the double stroller, peacefully, Starbucks in hand (yes it was a PSL – it’s September now - this is not a drill!), an older lady approached me and asked, “Are you going to have more kids?” Sans hello, sans a smile, and definitely sans warmth. Seriously.

Here are some questions that would have been more appropriate for her to ask: “How do you get these angel children to be so docile?” (Obviously bribery in the toy/snack aisles); “Are your kids baby models?” (As soon as my son stops taking off his diaper and throwing his poo like a monkey we’ll consider it); “How do you care for two toddlers and still manage to look so put together?” (A nanny, lots of help from family, great highlighting and contouring, and the grace of all that is holy). But no – what she was really asking is… “Do you have your birth control in check, and are you having unprotected intercourse with your husband?”

That’s how a baby is made, if I’m remembering correctly. Which makes it a pretty bizarre inquiry from someone I’ve just met. But it’s a question myself, and countless other moms get asked ALL. THE. TIME. I’m pretty confident every mom friend I have has at least one story about a complete stranger questioning her family trajectory.

So after ruminating a bit I’ve broken down the possible reasons people think it’s okay to ask this question:

  1. Genuine interest. Maybe she has kids and misses the smears of toddler fingerprints on every glass surface, or waking up at 6am and making four different breakfasts that all get fed to the dog… Her question is coming from a good place: a place of remembrance, kindness, and nostalgia.
  2. Morbid curiosity. This especially applies if you have 3+ children. She wants to envision the freak show and feel relief she isn’t part of it (hey, she doesn’t know what she’s missing!). She doesn’t want to stare, but can’t look away, and curiosity gets the best of her.
  3. Obliviousness. Some people just don’t get it, period. They think this is an appropriate thing to ask, maybe even thinks of it as a friendly conversation-starter, because they don’t know any better.
  4. They’re just rude. Unfortunately we live in a world where some people are just creeps, and don’t care if they’re being offensive. They have zero boundaries with their questions and opinions, and it’s obvious they have a strong opinion on your choice to procreate (multiple times). Give her a dirty look and move on.

Regardless of the reason, whether you want zero kids, one kid, or fifteen kids, it’s no one’s business but your own (and hopefully your partner). In a society that is often politically correct to a fault I find it astounding how moms seem to be the exception. And the thing is, when you ask that loaded question you don’t know that family’s story. Have they had a difficult time conceiving, suffered miscarriage and loss, battled through IVF, celebrated rainbow babies, spent years in the adoption process, grew up as only child and want a baseball team of kids, grew up with a dozen siblings and relish parenting one kid, and so on and so forth into eternity? No, you simply don’t know.

So the next time you see a Mom in Target (or a million Moms in Target; it’s our sanctuary, after all), compliment her, tell her she’s doing an amazing job, offer to buy her PSL if you’re feeling especially generous, BUT for goodness sakes, don’t ask her if she’s having more kids.