On Getting Off Each Other’s Goddamn Cases

I’ve written often, during my unsuccessful attempts to have a baby, about the pressure women feel to become mothers, but what I’ve learned from friends who do have children is that the bullshit doesn’t end when you’ve finally given birth. Okay, you think, I’ve produced the heir or heiress to the throne, I’m done getting grilled at parties by my great-aunts about the contents of my uterus, right?

Oh, hell no.

What we needed was a healthy baby.

When we learned our second bundle would be a boy, I admit I was silently relieved. “This I can do,” I thought. “I know boys.”

Yet strangers – and some people close to us – had a much different reaction.

“Another boy (insert shock/ pity/ confusion here)?! So, when will you go for a third?”

“You/ your husband must want/ need a girl.”

“But you have to have a girl!”

Some days, it was all I could do to not let loose on someone. We “have to have” a girl? Our family won’t be “complete” without a girl? “Clearly,” I thought, “you people need to work on your priorities.” And, by the way, are you planning to help us with the three kids you are convinced we need??

Right? I’ve come to understand that the people who are overwhelmingly anxious that you breed are a) usually the people whose own children act like monkeys on acid all time, like way to be a recruiting poster there, or b) live hundreds of miles away from you and really just want to cuddle a baby at Christmas and then hand it back to you when it starts screaming.

(I’ve often considered a rental service for women of childbearing age, so that we can present the adorable offspring at the appropriate time so as to placate the family, without having to deal with kidlets when the family isn’t around.)

I will never understand why we have to be so judgy about this shit. If you have one child oh, what a tragedy, breedbreedbreed for the Reich. Make like the Duggars and people call your vagina a clown car. Part of supporting reproductive rights is supporting the idea that nobody gets to tell anybody else how or when to have children, a point which is lost on these busybodies.

They want you to have a baby, and then, when you DO have a baby, they want you to have more babies, or different babies, or something. If you have girls, what about a brother for them? If you have boys, why don’t you give them a baby sister, like another human being is a live doll for them to dress up. A friend with two kids who once stated she wasn’t interested in more was then accused of “not wanting the perfect family.”

She’s much nicer than I am, so she didn’t respond, “Where exactly do you get off saying my family isn’t perfect ALREADY? By the by, your spawn is over there at the buffet filling your hat with bean dip, so let’s hope the Gifted and Talented Program has a money-back guarantee.”


13 thoughts on “On Getting Off Each Other’s Goddamn Cases

  1. aimai says:

    You will be a kickass mother, one day.

  2. BlackSheep0ne says:

    You’re gonna be a great parent!

  3. sonosid says:

    As an ob sonographer I feel your wrath. 30 years for me of listening to this bullshit professionally and holding my tongue (mostly).

  4. montag says:

    I’m kinda surprised that there’s not been a general trend to “why can’t you do your part for the ________ [war effort, economy, white race, the GDP, the nation, pick one or more] as a further shaming technique.
    These whiny, intrusive parents, more often than not, want you to be just as fuckin’ miserable and harried as they are. Misery absolutely craves company…

  5. NTodd says:

    It takes a Costco to deflate your self worth as a parent, or human being. Fuck the fucking fuckers.

  6. mothra says:

    Fortunately I surround myself with people who do not have children, so I don’t hear that. My mother never pushed for me to have children because a)I’m not married; and b)she wasn’t all that crazy about children herself.

  7. noblejoanie says:

    Timely interview with Helen Mirren by Germaine Greer here

  8. pacem appellant says:

    My conservative extended family had a hard time dealing with us when we were just cohabitating that I used to joke that we got married at the court house just so we could sleep in the same bed when we visited them in rural America (had we not been married, we would have been given separate rooms at the hotel). But they still didn’t see us as adults until we had children. It was really hard going to through infertility treatments, but having the nagging and pressure from condescending a-holes I hardly knew was a small dagger to heart every time. And I won’t even say what my own parents put us through, that was beyond the pale.
    Though we now have our own children, I make a point to not ask parental advice from pricks, and I humbly and honestly respect all couples’ decisions regarding their reproductive rights (except for people for have three or more children–twins born second excepted–because those people just don’t know when to quit).

  9. Lex says:

    I would never dream of saying any of this stuff. I will, however, pass along what I consider to be sound advice from my cousin Jay, whose second child was, quite unexpectedly, triplets: “Two [below school age] is a GOOD NUMBER. Once you have more than two, you have to play zone instead of man-to-man, and that never works out well.”

  10. PurpleGirl says:

    “By the by, your spawn is over there at the buffet filling your hat with bean dip, so let’s hope the Gifted and Talented Program has a money-back guarantee.”
    Good post A. This is just brilliant.
    Luckily I was the baby in my family and my older siblings had two kidlets each so I didn’t get the pressure to contribute grandkidlets. There was pressure, though, just to meet someone and settle down and get married — to have someone to take care of me. Oh well, that didn’t happen (probably by design), so again no pressure for kidlets. I was always ambiguous about having kidlets, anyway.

  11. Elspeth Ravenwind says:

    I’m drawing ever closer to that golden moment where the repro bits are taken offline… Then I’m sure I’ll get the “why didn’t you have babies??!??” “Such a shame”
    Well…had I discovered my beloved was a great guy (after our going-steady in h.s., I was a spootie 16 y.o., and wasn’t open to his potential) and started dating him again about 15 years ago, I would have had kid(s) with him. He’s brilliantly smart, I think he’s a handsome devil, and he’s funnier than skidditch. Not to mention, we’d probably have fewer cats. But, I didn’t, and we’re together now, and we do have 4 cats…that’s our maintenance level.

  12. phg says:

    This brings back happy memories of the looks and comments we got walking around with our three little boys (8,6,4) and my wife obviously pregnant. I guess I was bemused because I was always in favor of a “keep going until we get a girl” strategy after having the first 2 boys and I understand that people are just fucked up and say stupid shit more often than not. Deep down they really don’t believe they have the right to tell you how to live or to question your choices but saying nothing at all seems rude, so you get the first lame thought that pops into their head.

  13. Athenae says:

    Deep down they really don’t believe they have the right to tell you how to live or to question your choices but saying nothing at all seems rude, so you get the first lame thought that pops into their head.
    This describes lik 90 percent of all conversations ever, and it’s why I think we need to go back to etiquette training in school or something, so that people say stupid shit about the weather instead.

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