A recent HuffPo article by Sylvia Bass, “To the Lady Ashamed of Being Pregnant With Her Fourth,” reminded me of a piece I wrote a few years ago.
Countless strangers in grocery stores have seen me with my three little ones and impertinently asked me how many children I am planning on having. I don’t know, person I have never met before. Tell you what: How about next week, I will bring my husband here and all three of us will discuss our family planning and come up with a number you find suitable. Or figure out which ones to eliminate if you feel I have too many already. But honestly, the only answer for the impertinent question of how many children I am going to have is all of them.
Before I was married, the seemingly unceasing question was: “When are you going to get married?” Mind you, I wasn’t in a prolonged, serious relationship. I was asked simply because I did not have a ring on my finger.
Yet since my husband and I got married, the constant question has changed to: “When are you going to have a baby?” To be honest, until recently, I didn’t have much of a polite answer. In fact, I saved my choice response for a friend of the family whom I don’t know well, when he made that inquiry a few months ago at a party. To his question, I smiled and responded, “How much money do you have in your bank account?” Flummoxed, he looked at me and sputtered through a few utterances until he said something along the lines that it was a strange question for me to be asking since that’s a personal matter. I took the opportunity to explain calmly that I felt similarly about his question of me.
As I mention in the article, I can’t claim credit for the response. I got it from the father of a large family, but it works well for many situations.
Granted, there are some people who would reply, “Bank account? Naaah, I just hide my money in my mattress.” “And how much money have you got in your mattress/suitcase/safe/or other hiding spot?”
And the best answer I’ve heard to the question of when are you going to stop having children?:
When we decide to stop having hot sex.
A friend of mine told me that his sister was in the store with three of her children and a woman came up to her, pointed to the children, and said, “Does your mother know about this?” Imagine her reaction when she learned there were four more at home… That’s when you wish the store cameras had audio. And that you had access to them.
Bass’s piece is worth a read and it confirms my thinking that it’s not such a bad thing to find a subtle and/or humorous way to remind perfect strangers and others who really don’t have a right to ask that it’s…none of their business...whether we’re talking about families with lots of children, some children, or no children.