When are you going to have children?
How many children are you going to have?
Haven't you had that baby yet?
In the land of the sweet south, there is no anonymity, a verbose lack of privacy and a fervent belief that one must espouse immediately any puddly thought that has come to the surface of the brain or tip of thou tongue. Of particular interest is the topic of children. How vast are the ways to offend an unsuspecting soul when it comes to children. Evidently there is no right or wrong way to be a parent, beginning from when you choose to be one.
A friend who longed to have children answered the first question, "when are you going to be ready to have children?" with the perfect reply, "two years ago". Ahhh, perfection in an honest answer, me thinks. Just the right amount of annoyance mixed with sadness, sarcasm and truthfulness. Evidently, the question asker got the hint and followed up with her the next day, apologetic and prayerful- a perfect combination in my mind. Yes, she and her husband now have a delightful baby but that leads into a VERY serious off-limits topic that applies to many areas of life. In this particular situation, the example of reassuring a wannabe mother that it "will work out" can be extremely offensive and the icing on the cake is "in God's time". Please do not throw God under the bus, He promises he has nothing but good in mind for us and there is nothing biblical about dangling babies like carrots to desperate women. On a serious note, I offer advice for all of you out there who have ever asked a personal question to a married woman without children. FREEZE and remember, if it does not make the target feel good, then do not speak. If and when, this person confides in you, offer nods and two words, "I'm sorry". Do not fall into the dreaded place of reassurance as sometimes we all need and deserve a time to grieve, mourn, and weep. We do these things as one who has hope, but God very clearly has illustrated it is okay to scream, cry, pound pillows, yell at the sky. Be a good friend and listen. Nothing else, as you are not being asked to fix the situation.
I must divulge that I too, was a question asker and blissfully have forgotten the many things I said that have been offensive to the many innocent women I encountered. Unfortunately, this brings me to question number two that came directly from me. I know. I am so mournful at the thought. It has haunted me for at least ten years and particularly so, after we had our fourth child. My husband and I were at a wedding down South (no children on our horizon) and after cruising in from the airport in a red convertible rental car and a day of beer in the motel swimming pool, I was feeling particularly confident. It was during the Friday evening festivities that I passed judgement on a very sweet girl who happened to have five children. Oh, how I wish I could take back my question brimming with incredulous intonation, "You're not going to have anymore, are you????!!!". Ugh. I cringe writing those words and am still In awe with her answer that could have only come from a place of faith. "I would love more" she responded. To my childless self, I recognized a tinge of jealousy and a gentle rebuke that has served me well in the years to come. I would like her to know payback has been served though she is not the type to take delight in another's suffering. If you are reading this, I am very sorry and have learned my lesson. Payback to me came as a particularly good snarky comment I received after having our fourth child. It was dealt out on a lovely Sunday milling about in the churchyard. Innocently cradling my fourth child, sweet Amos, I was approached my a fellow church member known for her lack of tact. Upon greeting me, she said, "Whose baby is that? Is that your baby? You had another baby?!". And the best part, "I thought you had gained weight but I didn't know you were pregnant". Ahhh, what goes around comes around.
The last question, "Haven't you had that baby yet?" is surely meant to be rhetorical but could be the most offensive especially to a woman in her zillionth month of pregnancy, particularly in the oppressive heat of an eastern North Carolina summer. We all have received this question in one way or another but it should be used to represent how NOT to speak to one expecting a child. If you come into contact with a seemingly very pregnant person, think carefully about what you will say. Ever so carefully approach the woman who appears to be ready to give birth, much like a person sneaking in the room of a sleeping toddler. Tiptoe, be quiet and kind and if you can not think of any thing that will make her feel better then do not speak. Smile and carry on...do not say what pops into your mediocre brain, statements posing as questions are again, the most dangerous.
Do you feel like your going to pop?!
How pregnant are you?!
Are you ever going to have that baby?!
I will not even give my best smart a* retorts to this type of insanity as I hope to squelch any pregnant woman harassment. Once you have mastered this area of communication, you will be ready to receive schooling in the area of breastfeeding and why it is none of your business.