I'd Rather Not Say
“So, are you going to have any more children?” asked the woman who I had just met five minutes ago during a wedding reception I recently attended.
“No,” I replied, “But aren’t the meat skewers delicious?” trying to direct the conversation in a different course.
“Oh,” the woman clutched the strand of beads around her neck, “And why is that?” not giving up easily on the topic of children.
I have been asked why I only have three children by dinner guests, hairstylists, men and yes, strangers. Most of the time I try to deflect the question but sometimes people persist, which is why I feel it is time to address this issue.
During my last pregnancy I had gestational diabetes and I was told that the condition was most likely to recur with the next pregnancy. What is more, the diabetes could become a lifelong condition after pregnancy. Ever since then, I have kept a strict diet and exercise regimen to lessen my chance of becoming a full-blown diabetic. While a recent blood test indicated my blood sugar level was in the normal range, it was nearing the higher end of the scale and I was instructed to keep vigilant. If that wasn’t enough, I suffered from postpartum depression which seemed to get worse with every pregnancy.
I know that talking about these conditions can make some people uncomfortable and to be frank, I don’t enjoy sharing them either. But when people ask a woman why they are not having more children, what answer are they truly expecting to hear in response? Prodding people to reveal why they have the number of children they do isn’t simply rude, it’s also unkind.
Still, some people feel it’s their duty to keep the world’s population growth in an upward momentum. I understand where they are coming from. Being a religious person, I am fully aware of the beauty and privilege of having many children. I am aware of my obligations and have spoken to the necessary authorities about my issues and they agree completely that I should stop worrying about having more and instead focus on raising the three beautiful girls I have been blessed with.
We all struggle with conversation starters and I also have a tough time dealing with awkward silence. But inquiring about why someone isn’t having more children shouldn’t be a go-to ice breaker. Rather, most people enjoy talking about the children they already have. Asking about their age, after-school actives and interests are all great conversation makers; bonus points if you ask to see pictures. I know that I love talking about my children, it’s a topic I know I could go on and on about. That is, if you don’t mind listening.