I can’t tell you how many times while chatting at the supermarket (or the school parking lot or anywhere else I happen to be) that someone makes a comment when they realize I only have daughters.
It usually goes something like this: “Oh my, you have three and they’re all girls? Did you plan to have three? Are you going to try for the boy? Your poor husband! Did he want a boy? Are you planning on having more children?”
For the record, I just want to say that yes, we planned on having three. No, we are not going for the boy. And as for my husband? All he (and I for that matter) have ever wanted was healthy children. And that’s exactly what we got.
Here’s the thing, I don’t think people are trying to be rude with their comments, but it definitely comes off that way when they’re asking such personal questions of a stranger. It’s none of their business.
The subject of having children can be a very sensitive one. The truth is, many factors come into play when making decisions about family planning. Finances, personal preferences, and, possibly the most sensitive subject of all, one’s medical history all come into play — none of which qualify as appropriate for small talk.
My fellow mommy friends and I often talk about why people feel like they have the right to ask such intimate questions. And it’s not just in regards to those of us who have all girls or all boys.
It happens to my friends who have four children, with comments like, “Oh my goodness, four! Was the last one a surprise?”
It happens to my friends who only have one child. “Are you going to have more kids?” they say. “Don’t you feel like they need a sibling?”
I have an aunt and uncle who have one daughter, and my uncle has become so annoyed by the question he finally started responding, “No we aren’t having any more children, we did it right the first time.”
My friends and I haven’t come up with an answer for why we get asked these questions, but there are a few things that we can all agree on.
The first is, it’s really no one’s business how a family was or was not created and whether it was by choice or by circumstance.
The other thing is that we can’t control the questions we are being asked, but we can control how we respond.
When the comments first started, I would get more than a little annoyed, but didn’t want to come off as being the mean lady at the supermarket. So I would smile and laugh to mask my feelings.
My response has since evolved. Now when people ask me about having all girls, I tell them my daughters were my gift for having been raised alongside three brothers. Most people get a kick out of that. Then they realize my parents had four kids and say, “Wow, so you come from a big family?” as if this gives them some kind of insight into my life and why I’m a baby-girl-making machine.
When they ask me if my husband wanted a boy, I tell them, “No, my husband wanted healthy children, and anyway, he was meant to be surrounded by beautiful women.”
Most people are so surprised by my quick response that they usually don’t say anything else about it.
All things considered, I don’t think my husband’s missing out on anything without a boy. He has instilled a love for all things Star Wars in our girls. They know the New York Yankees are the best baseball team in the world. And he has coached each one of our girls’ soccer teams at one point or another.
At the same time he gets to experience daddy–daughter dances, nail polish, and pretty dresses, all while teaching our girls how to break away from an opponent’s grip on the soccer field.
My daughters are similarly unfazed, and I believe it’s simply due to the fact that they know how awesome they are and how truly loved and wanted they are, not just by us, their parents, but by everyone around them.
If I have one piece of advice to offer my fellow moms out there, it is this: While the words of a stranger can certainly carry weight, it’s up to you to decide how much weight you are going to allow them to carry.
So the next time someone approaches you about having all girls, all boys, or a certain number of children, do yourself a favor and take it in stride. And when all else fails, be armed with a sweet and sassy comeback.