Don’t Have Just One

People say these words to us all the time. Family members. Friends. The Swedelock’s co-workers. Strangers. Even at the pediatrician’s office there’s some sort of silent that’s-a-shame pause when I inform them our son is an only child.

People who know and love me can certainly inquire about our family set-up. Because I can dialogue with you. But people who do not know me? You need to shut up. Really need. You know how all humans need things like water, shelter, food, compassion, understanding? You need shut-up-i-tude.

It is potentially very hurtful to tell someone what their child count should be. You never know (unless you do) a person or family’s reason for having none, or three, or only one child.

Only one? Just one?

Interestingly, it is my husband, without me around, who gets the more pushy advances from people. My favorite response he’s created is: “Take it up with my wife’s vagina.”

I love this sentence because it sounds like something I would say, not him. It’s also a highly effective full stop to that conversation. Unless we’re talking to his mother. She’s a nurse, and would just take the anatomical shockery to a higher level. Plus, she’s on the not-stranger list.

For the record, none of my reproductive bits—or rest of my body—minded the growing and birthing of a child. In fact, I was awesome at it. But why is everyone so interested in what I do with my vagina?

I know that these inquiring parties are interested in my lady bits because: the only strangers who push the issue assume our child is our biological child who came into our lives in the traditional fashion. If you ask me, that’s some strange-ass stuff to be talking about with a stranger. So let’s be good Midwesterners and just stop talking about it.

About alanajoyski

Project manager, problem solver, chips fan.
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11 Responses to Don’t Have Just One

  1. Amy V says:

    If you can believe it, I’m already starting to get this from people and my child is only 9 months old. I am constantly asked “so when are you having the next one?” Thing is, I’m not sure we can have another, and I don’t really feel like getting into the details with random strangers. I have started telling them that I’m not sure it’s possible, just because I think they deserve to feel a little uncomfortable having asked such a thoughtless question.

    • alanajoyski says:

      EXACTLY. Sometimes I fantasize about saying something even more direct than that, even though it would be untrue in our case.

      I wouldn’t be so irritated if I could understand why people are so insistent.

  2. Catherine says:

    I had a good excuse with the step-son, but still got an awful lot of this. Although I have one of the most enjoyable, well-behaved little girls (actually, probably THE most, but I’m biased), my reaction seemed to stop people dead. I always responded “Good god, no” – maybe the Germanic, deadpan delivery made people afraid to pursue the subject. I keep this response handy for the stragglers. I do most enjoy other people’s babies, toddlers, big kids, teens, but for me, well … No. There are many factors that go into that no. I can’t think of any reason I should have another actually. I’m really glad you had one, Alana, but again I can’t think of a reason you should produce another. You already done good …

  3. Pia says:

    At 5 months pregnant, in my second meeting ever with my then new, now former boss, she asked me if we were planning on having more. While I gaped at her, she went off on a tangent about how you have to have at least two, because, well. “You KNOW how only children are..”. Once my jaw was picked back up, I said “Yes, yes I do, because I AM ONE”. I am so glad I don’t work for her anymore. Hugs. We’re getting that question a lot these days too. I’m mostly just saying “We’ll see” or “Si was a surprise, we don’t like to plan”. hehe.

  4. matece says:

    I, too, like all of you, get this all the time. And I, too, am fed up with it. When I’ve reached the end of patience and someone is overtly pushing their opinion I tell them the truth. The story I usually don’t share because people don’t know what to do with it. But, hey, you wanna go? You really wanna have this conversation? Well, okay. How about my first daughter was born full term with the cord wrapped around her neck and died. I’ve had two other miscarriages. I had one emotional rollercoaster of a pregnancy filled with uncertainty that didn’t end until I heard the perfect cry of my perfect baby boy. He’s perfect. He’s all I need. And now that you know the truth, what do you say to that? Sheepish, incomprehensible platitudes as eyes quickly dart around for the nearest exit. Or sometimes tears of empathy as hearts break and meet. Amy, I agree with you. At times thoughtlessness can and should be met with matter-of-fact honesty to hopefully garner a little lesson in humility and sensitivity. And Alana, thank you for bringing it up.

    • alanajoyski says:

      You, my beloved, and too many others, are exactly why this extra angers me. I’m annoyed for myself, but just angry for everyone else. Or maybe i just want to defend everyone’s right to…having people shut up. I dunno. Hopefully I can do some more thinking about this topic so I can use these incidents as teaching moments. I tend toward sarcasm or silliness in order to deflect the topic.

  5. Rose says:

    Honestly, I ask people if they plan to have more children or if they would like to quite often. I believe the size of your family is exactly what it needs to be and am genuinely interested to hear what people have to say. However, in light of the discussion I see questions like this can be nosy and quite hurtful in many situations. A lot of times I just want a real conversation. I am sorry that you have felt judged and pushed around. It seems to me that most people you randomly chat with could care less and actully aren’t talking to you. And people who you may be close with are bias. As a parent opinions about what is best for “your” children are “yours”. You know what is works for you and your family.

    • alanajoyski says:

      Thank you for speaking up, dear. You remind me that it is impossible to erase this topic of conversation entirely. And you remind me people have genuine curiosity. I think what I am talking about is when people inquire about my family set-up, then reject my answer. As in, “Are you guys going to have more?” Me, “Probably not.” Them: “Oh, you can’t just have one child.” Comments like that are more common than I’d ever dreamed. I suspect it is because a single child family is not the norm, and so my answer…I dunno…offends people or something. Still thinking on this one…

  6. Kristy says:

    Yep, we get it quite a bit too. I often say something along the lines of, well I grew up an only child and look how fabulous I am?!

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