This is (hopefully) not going to be a soapbox rant shaming well-meaning people for being well-meaning, or creating awkwardness and sensitivity around a topic that doesn't necessarily have to be awkward and sensitive. Rather, I'm trying to take the "education" route. I want to make conversations easier, not harder. I want to open up, not shut down. Well, let's see how it goes.
I want to have another baby. Now. More specifically, about a year ago. My husband would be happy with one baby, but is open to having another. Just not now. More specifically, in about two and a half years.
This is our very own, personal situation. And, in my opinion, we are the only ones who should be making this decision. That's not to say that I don't want to talk about it with anyone. But there's a certain kind of conversation I'm open to, and another kind that I'm not.
For some reason, I seem to talk about this a lot. And for the life of me I swear I'm not the one bringing it up. Part of the problem is that I work in an environment where I'm locked in a quiet room with one other person for one-hour blocks of time, and while some people use this time to catch a snooze, others like to make conversation. People ask about my daughter, and her age, and the next obvious question seems to be if we're having any more. I don't mind that question at all. I'm perfectly capable of answering a yes or no question, and I personally don't find that particular question intrusive. But here's where the problem starts. I'm a rather open and honest person, and I worry about making people uncomfortable by clamming up if they want to talk. Usually I'll offer a brief explanation about being uncertain on timing and try to leave it at that. Sometimes I can redirect a conversation before we get into murky waters, but in my experience, if someone really wants to know something, they'll find a way to get the question in there.
So here we are. And what, you may be wondering, are these murky waters of which I speak? Well, I'll tell you. My own personal issue with these conversations is the "advice". If you're my friend and I'm asking for advice, lay it on me. If I just met you and you have no knowledge of my history, please keep your advice to yourself. And if you fit into some other category, then let's keep it simple. Did I ask you for your opinion on how my husband and I should navigate a disagreement on the inner workings and ultimate expansion of our family? Yes? So, what are you waiting for? Give me the answers I seek! No? Then, how 'bout we talk about something else?
I can't imagine that J and I are the first couple on the planet to disagree on the timing of having a second child. If we are, then by all means, someone step in and give us the golden key because we're obviously missing something. But if we're going by the advice I've been given so far, which largely consists of relieving my husband of any input in the matter and forging ahead with one of numerous devious pregnancy-inducing schemes that have been suggested to me, then I think it's best if we just keep the matter between my husband and I. Lots of people have made similar suggestions in a joking context, and I can take a joke. What I can't seem to swallow, is crazy-assed advice from gravely concerned half-strangers with all kinds of "knowledge" about my situation.
"You're healthy. You'll have no problem having a baby at 40."
- Oh good, I'm healthy! Whew. And you know this because...I'm thin? You just met me, so unless you've been perusing my medical records and conducting fertility tests without my knowledge, ease up on the diagnoses and clairvoyance.
"Don't wait. You'll regret it."
- Fear-mongering. Awesome.
"Just get him drunk. He'll do whatever you want."
- Let's flip the sexes on that one and see how you'd sound. Also...tried it.
"You don't want just one. Only children are never normal."
- Let's make sure to have the follow-up back-pedalling conversation if E turns out to be solo.
"Why are you giving him the choice? You're carrying the baby. He doesn't have to do anything."
- You're an asshat.
"You should just wait. Then you'll have lots of money and it will be great."
- Yippee!!! There's that magical future of mine again, popping in to say hello! Money still takes away all of our problems, right?
…and it goes on. And on. On almost daily basis.
-- PAUSE --
And once again this blog proves itself and more therapy for me than entertainment for you.
I got interrupted while writing this post - because who can write an entire uninterrupted blog post anyway? - and have been thinking about it ever since. About how I can't seem to distill my thoughts down enough to make it not a rambling, flip-flop of a stream of consciousness. And as I've been mulling it over I've come to a very important conclusion.
All of you aren't the ones that need to be re-educated. It's me. As I thought about what I wanted to say, I found myself asking the same kinds of questions over and over:
Do I want to tell people what they can and cannot say? (No.)
Do I want people to feel like they should or shouldn't talk about certain topics? (No.)
Do I want people to be so afraid of offending or upsetting someone that they don't bother starting conversations? (Absolutely not.)
Do I want people to walk on eggshells around me? (Please, no.)
So what is my purpose here? Who is it that needs to understand how to behave? Do I really think everyone else needs to align themselves with my needs and way of thinking? If so, then I'm more of a diva than I thought. No, I guess I have to admit that maybe…juuuust maybe…I need to stop letting the opinions of others have such an impact on me. Was it Eleanor Roosevelt that said "What others think of me is none of my business"? Someone did anyway, and that's the truth.
So I suppose I should wrap it up with a quick "As you were!", but if you don't mind, enough with the advice. Do we have a deal?