This wasn’t the post I was planning to write today but this morning I finally got round to reading Jennifer Aniston’s ‘For the Record’ blog for Huffington Post about the constant rumours surrounding the fullness of her womb. This led to me reading another article about the societal pressure women are often under to get married and start a family, and then another article and then another. Then I got mad. I got mad that women still needed to justify their choices – lifestyle, relationship, family, whatever – over and over again. I got so mad I ate a Nobbly Bobbly ice lolly at 8.30am. I was livid.
But it did get me thinking about how even once you are married (or securely coupled) with a child, people still don’t seem to be happy. It got me thinking about the time someone asked, when the Child was 6 days old, when we’d have another one, of the community midwife whose last words to me were that she’d see me in 18 months when I was pregnant again, of the colleagues who, on my first day at a new job, thought it was perfectly acceptable to enquire if, when and how many more children I was going to have, of the friends who have two sons so are constantly asked when they’re going to try for a girl and it got me thinking about all the well-meaning strangers who, after asking how old the Child is, feel the need to tell me to get my skates on with the next one before it’s too late because no one wants to be an only child.
So, instead of finishing the post I had planned (which will be fricking hilarious and published sometime this week) I’ve decided to put my Nobbly Bobbly infused rage to use and have come up with 10 reasons why it is absolutely never ever ok to ask a mother when she plans to have another child.
1. You’re a stranger. Literally. And if you’re more than a stranger, unless you’re comfortable asking your friend/ colleague/ relative/ bus driver when she plans to have repeated unprotected sexual intercourse at a very specific point in her menstrual cycle then you shouldn’t be comfortable asking her when she’s having another child.
2. Maybe she desperately wants another one and has been trying since her first child was 6 months/ 6 days/ 6 hours old but it’s just not happening. Maybe it took her 8 years to conceive last time and it’s taking just as long now or maybe she was pregnant until last week and your question is just making her womb and heart feel even emptier.
3. You’re not asking her boyfriend/ husband/ partner the same question.
4. She doesn’t want one. Perhaps she’d always planned to have a big family but after her child shat in the toddler pool she decided one was enough thank you very much. Or maybe, just maybe she only ever wanted one child and that is absolutely her prerogative.
5. She can’t afford another one. Or she could afford it but she wouldn’t be able to go on holiday or renovate her house or buy a big ass bottle of Bombay Sapphire on whim. And if you think that’s selfish well no one actually asked you, so why don’t you just go ahead and get over yourself (and buy some Bombay Sapphire, seriously try it with Fever Tree tonic and you’ll understand what I’m talking about).
6. Perhaps she struggled after her child was born to come to terms with how her life was now controlled by this vomiting bundle of tiny limbs. Perhaps she’s just getting back on an even keel again and wants to make sure she is mentally resilient enough to cope with another baby. Perhaps she’s accepted she never will and it’s better for everyone she focuses on the child she has.
7. She does want another child but her partner doesn’t or vice versa. Maybe this is an extra source of tension in an already fraught relationship. Maybe their relationship has only just recovered from the birth of the last child or it never will. I’d say getting that situation sorted is a little more important that achieving the magical 2-year sibling age gap.
8. She doesn’t actually enjoy being a mum all that much. Of course she loves her child but actually she finds the day-to-day motherhood thing boring and monotonous and hates the fact her backyard is filled with scooters and rainbow-coloured plastic crap. She didn’t think she would feel like this but she does.
9. She’s got other things she wants to do first. She wants to try out a new career, or focus more on her current one or set up a business or sell homemade novelty jewellery at weekend craft markets. Whatever it is, she wants to focus on herself for a little while and carve out an identity that is separate from that of Mum. Do you really have a problem with that?
10. Finally, and this one really is the most important one – it’s not actually any of your goddamn business. If you’re looking for small talk ask her about Game of Thrones or comment on the weather. In fact there are a bejillion other topics you should try first before questioning whether she’ll be pushing another human out of her vagina any time soon.