… In a religion where family size is looked upon as a marker of piety and fidelity to Church teaching, the woman with only one child, or no children, is often treated with a certain degree of suspicion.
Is she selfish, contracepting, or just not that fertile?
Mom bloggers often write about the rude comments they encounter from strangers, and even from some family and friends, who ridicule their choice to have a large family. I know the comments can be truly awful, thoughtless, cruel, and ignorant. I can empathize. Because I’ve had my share.
Let’s take a moment to consider the mom with one child.
Wait. Why would we do that? I mean, really. Why bother?
What can she possibly have to complain about? I mean, she has one child, so her life is perfect and neat and tidy, and she has all that time on her hands and… and…
Here’s just a small sampling of the loveliness I encounter within my little church-y bubble of churchiness, where a Catholic woman of childbearing age who has only one child is subject to all type of speculation and gossip…
Oh, you have just the one?
Emphasize on “just”, like the one isn’t good enough.
Don’t you want more?
Well, maybe I do and wasn’t able. Maybe I tried and tried and spent years in prayer begging God for more, and spent thousands on doctor visits attempting to get pregnant again and again before finally going through the emotionally painful stages of grief and coming to peace with accepting God’s will in my oh, so small, woefully insignificant family size only to have to be reminded again and again that I only have just one child every time I introduce my family at church. Thanks for that.
It must be sooooo easy, what with only one child. My life is so chaotic with my bazillion babies. I envy you, you’re so lucky.
Lucky, eh? You don’t know me and, therefore, can’t possible understand why or how I came to have only one child. What a very strange thing to assume about someone.
One or twenty, being a mom is always going to be crazy and chaotic. There are shared sacrifices on time and comforts we all give up to be parents. Please don’t assume because I have one child my sacrifices aren’t as large as yours.
You wanna trade lives so bad? Sure I’ll take your ten kids and you can have my one… can I have your loyal and devoted husband too? The one that provides the income for you to stay home and care for them all?
How am to respond to the queries of having only one child without offering up the private information that I am divorced? Cause you’ve forced me to answer with my only explanation.
That’s when things really get awkward.
Because when a Catholic women hears another Catholic woman say they’re divorced pity is their only reaction. And no one likes to be pitied.
You also don’t need to make a huge deal out of the fact you practice NFP while alluding that my single child must be a result of using artificial birth control. No couple or woman with one, two, or no children at all should be subject to that type of calumnious suspicion.
Here’s an idea. When you meet me and ask about my family and I tell you about my son, just go ahead and assume he’s my only child because if I did have more kids I’d probably tell you about them too. Simply responding that he sounds like a nice young man followed by a “it was nice to meet you” is really all the conversation calls for.
On the flip side. I could stop being so defensive, like Simcha suggests.
Now there’s a thought.