Recently, a good friend told me that he had learned a valuable lesson from Tina Fey. In short, he learned that you never, ever ask a woman about their reproductive prospects. Meaning, you see a woman with one kid and you ask ‘So, when are you having another?’ Or you ask the married woman with no kids ‘So, why don’t you have kids?’
It’s no secret that I think Tina Fey is a comedic god. And the fact that she has imparted this knowledge onto the public makes me love her even more. She’s right. This might be one of the most annoying questions in the history of annoying questions.
Personally, as the mother of one child, I get asked this fairly often, and I never understand people’s investment in me having more than one child. Strangers and distant acquaintances will ask me this and argue with me: “No…you want more than one, of course you do, why wouldn’t you?” Subtext: What are you? Some kind of monster to deprive your child of a sibling?
I find myself wondering what exactly is the questioner’s investment in my answer. Are they midwives trying to drum up business? Do they run a school and they need more future students? Are they terrified that my child will grow up without the benefit of a sibling to torment them? Why exactly do you care?
It’s not the only annoying question that women get asked though. In no particular order:
- “Where is your son during the day?”
I get asked this fairly often by probably well-meaning co-workers. It really depends on how the question is asked as to what the level of annoying is. A truly innocent ‘I’m looking for options for my own kid’ type of query is one thing. The raised eyebrow, slightly suspicious query is entirely different. I’m not sure what the asker expects me to say. “Huh, not sure really…I guess he could be anywhere by now. I’m pretty sure I locked the front door, but wouldn’t bet on it….” Or “Closet. I leave water and goldfish crackers, it’s fine.”
He’s at daycare genius. And it really is fine.
- “Have you ever thought of getting a nanny?”
Yes. And until that bag of cash appears on my door on a monthly basis, it’s not happening. Oddly, I get asked this question fairly often by co-workers as well. What I really want to say is ‘We’re teachers, we make the same amount of money, we’re both wearing last season’s Old Navy Clearance clothes and I would bet neither of our cars have had more than a quarter tank of gas in the last six months. A nanny? Why don’t you ask me if I’ve ever thought about hiring a butler? It’s just as likely to happen.
- “Bet your husband was glad it was a boy!”
If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to me when I was pregnant and immediately following Mr. Adorablepants’ arrival, I really could hire a nanny. While I tended to nod politely and smile, what I was thinking was: “Why yes, we needed a male heir to pass on the family bloodline and inherit the kingdom. Those good for nothing girls are nothing but dowry suckers and breeding chattel for the neighboring fiefdoms.” Seriously people, it’s 2011. Does it matter if you have a girl or a boy now? Really? My husband and I were happy Mr. Adorablepants was healthy, as long as he was healthy he could have been a little of both and I would have been thrilled.
- “Why isn’t he potty trained yet? My daughter was potty trained at 18 months!”
Well you get the cookie. You have a girl… parents of girls are eternally dumbfounded that I haven’t succeeded in completely potty training Mr. Adorablepants yet. He’s working on it, and I’m pretty sure he won’t go to college in diapers….but even if he does…they make really big diapers and presumably he will be able to change them himself by then. So, I think we’ll be fine. Don’t worry about it.
- “So, how was your labor?”
I got asked this little gem quite a bit by total strangers right after Mr. Adorablepants was born and I was pushing him around in his stroller. I’m not sure what I was expected to say to these strangers: “It was so awesome, you should have seen the size of my cervix! Here, I have a pic on my phone, wanna see?” Really people, how do you think it was? It’s LABOR. It sucked. It probably sucked more than anything has ever sucked before. It felt at times like my belly was going to explode Aliens style and keep in mind; I was under heavy use of painkillers. I don’t even want to know what it would have felt like otherwise.
In short people, unless you’re a close relative, a close friend or a doctor – most women just don’t want to talk about their reproductive cycles, fertility patterns or childcare decisions with you. Most of us are responsible, mature grown-ups. We got this. Don’t worry.