At least once a week, I get asked this question: “When are you having a second baby?”
Most people do not even bother to ask, “Are you going to have a second baby?” They instantly assume I am going to strive for the American dream of 2.2 children frolicking behind a white picket fence and just whack me with a “when…?”
I want to jab my eyes out every time I hear it.
Because now I have to go through this whole process of explaining why I don’t want more kids and the other person tries really hard to change my mind and it ends with me changing the subject or needing to end it with a “Oh, we’ll see…” so that I can move on with my life. It’s a very predictable, boring and terrible conversation.
But I’ve thought long and hard about this and decided that there is actually one way that the question would be well-received. The other person only needs to follow it up with this statement:
“Before you answer that question, I want you to know that I have several things to offer you. The first is a lump sum of $300,000 to help support the upbringing and education of your second child.
“Also, I have long held a secret magic that will set into motion the reversal of climate change, implementation of nuclear disarmament, and eradication of hate and ignorance. Once you decide to have a second child, I will unleash this magic so that your child and her offspring will be guaranteed a long, fulfilling, and peaceful life on a healthy planet.
“And lastly, here is a pill. Once you take it, your body will only need half the amount of sleep that it normally needs. This way, you will have an extra 4 hours in your day to engage in self-care and other activities that create enjoyment in your life.”
If you cannot offer me these three gifts, please do not ask me this question.
But if the question inadvertently slips from your mouth and I respond with, “No, I don’t want another child. I’m happy with one,” please don’t say:
“But she needs someone to play with.” She can play with me or her dad, two of the silliest adults you’ll ever meet. She can play with friends. A cat. A dog. A neighbor. Roomba, our vacuum. This is not a concern of mine. Next please.
“She will get spoiled.” I don’t make a million dollars. She is not going to get a sports car for her 16th birthday. But if taking a week long trip to Hawaii before she is 18—which is something I’ve still yet to do—means that she is spoiled, I can live with that.
“She won’t know what it’s like to bond with a sibling.” The sibling connection is special—I know that from experience. But I also know many people who do not have a close relationship with their sibling. And I know a good handful of people who will have nothing to do with their siblings. Having a sibling doesn’t automatically guarantee closeness. This is not enough of a factor to convince me. Sorry.
You know how nowadays it’s rude now to ask women why they don’t have children? Well, guess what…it’s similarly rude to ask mothers when they are going to have more children.
We are not dairy cows. Some of us don’t want children. Some of us are happy with a pet. Some of us are happy with one child while others are happy with 6. Some of us—namely me—are just trying to make an impact in this world before an angry Asian guy and raging egomaniac blows it up.
Stop setting expectations for how we should live our lives. We get enough of it from the rest of the world. We don’t need it from our friends and families.
So, if you’re having trouble making conversation with a one-child mother, here are more meaningful discussion topics you can try instead:
“What do you like most about being a mother?”
“What’s the hardest thing about being a mother?”
“What’s your relationship with your partner like now that you’re parents?”
“What’s it like being a working mother or a stay at home mother?”
“How has being a mother changed you?”
“Do you want to add to your family?”
“You’re doing an amazing job.”
But the best thing you can say to any mother is: “I am going to wash your dishes.”