June 18th, 2012

Mommy Doll

The Comments, They Sure Have Started

I overheard the first one a couple of weeks ago as I was supervising two kids feeding ducks. It was just an innocuous snippet, "...and another one on the way..." Now that I am temporarily doing the stay-at-home-mom thing I get to hear them several times a day, and some of them are a lot more openly judgmental. The main drift seems to be that I'm insane to be having another child.

It is by no means news to me that the vast majority of the population feels entitled to judge other people's parenting decisions, including family size. Most people seem to think that two kids is understandable, the notable exception being the vocally militant faction of the child-free movement who seem to think that no one should have any kids ever and the human race should die out with the current generation. I won't bother to go into the logistical fail of the latter. So, most people think two is the magic number and should be for everyone. If you have no kids you'll live to regret it, if you have one they are destined to be spoiled and/or lonely, and if you have three or more you are apparently insane.

I love kids, and I most especially love my kids. On a purely emotional level my gut reaction is to expect that most people want what I want: as many kids as they reasonably think they can afford to support. Intellectually I understand that this is not the case, and it's not such a huge leap to make. Small children are a lot of work. They are cute, and cuddly and awesomely rewarding. On the other hand they are pretty labor intensive to care for, and they will pee, poop and throw up on you. I'm all for people who don't want to have kids not having them, because given the amount of effort involved its not really not a good idea to coerce a person into being a parent. I can also understand the point of view of the mother of one of Margaret's fellow ballet students: "I can do a good job of raising one child, or a so-so job of raising two." One child is clearly right for her, and shame on anyone for trying to push her into having more. As far as I'm concerned family size is a decision for the individual family. I will admit to being a bit judgmental when people have kids they clearly can't afford to support or just don't want, but I do tend to keep my opinions to myself concerning specific instances. If you can give all your kids what they need (food, shelter, clothing, and lots of love), then I tend to assume people are making the decision that is best for them, even if that's no kids at all. It would be nice if everyone would make the same assumption about me.

The thing that really gets me about the comments I overhear is that I tend to overhear them when Margaret and Duncan are behaving well. That's probably because on the rare occasions when there is a public meltdown I can't overhear a damn thing. It makes me wonder, though, at the folks who think I'm insane for having a third when the two kids I do have are holding hands and walking nicely down the sidewalk chatting with each other. What's so insane about wanting more of that? I suppose some people worry about the world population, but replacement rate for population is 2.1 births per female and the US rate was down below 1.8 the last I heard. I can only assume that they think I'm insane because I want something they think I shouldn't, which would be less irritating if they kept their mouths shut. You may think my sanity is marginal, but my hearing is just peachy, thanks.

So far no one has said anything directly to me that has deserved a witty rejoinder other than "You're going to have your hands full." My standard reply to this is, "Better full hand than empty arms." The good thing about having both a boy and a girl already is that no one can accuse me of trying one more time to get a child of a different gender. The part of me in charge of composing witty rejoinders is just waiting for some fool to suggest that child #3 is an accident and/or I don't know how to prevent pregnancy. If your feeling creative I'd love to hear your take on possible witty rejoinders I can use for when that happens.