Many times people will ask seemingly innocuous questions that have deep and profound implications to the anticipated respondent. Many times the reasoning behind the question’s lack-of innocence is something the inquisitor would probably not have even ventured a thought about.
For example, a classic posed to an unwed couple, or individuals of a certain age is, “When are you going to get married?” It seems innocent enough on the surface but lurking underneath could be the complicated past either or both individuals might have with the perception of wedlock. Askers often only see the idyllic view of marriage and forget the range of reasons from mutual disinterest, to painful past experiences, to not being at that point in committal development it can represent, as just a few examples.
Another favorite is, “When are you having kids?” And, again, it stems from a narrow view of procreation as being the anthropological be all-end all of existence (particularly for women) while ignoring the plethora of reasons someone might not have any interest in bringing a child into the world.
While the intent of such questions might not be aimed at it, the result of the questions especially when they begin to become redundant and The questions create undo tension between the inquisitor and the respondent at a minimum. But, moreso, create stress for the respondent for long after the initial situation has been brushed aside. It can cause doubt of self-worth for being a perceived non-conformist and undermine the individual’s valuation of themselves and their situation. It can be an emotional trigger that strikes pretty deep at the heart of one’s own being especially when put into situations where the question becomes something of an ongoing personal attack.
My own such experience with the two above was fortunately never really problematic. Generally, my friends and family understood my situation fairly well and respected their understanding of it to not make a point of asking. The few times awkward moments occurred an explanation was briefly provided and the conversation was dropped. No harm. No foul.
Particularly with the procreation question, it never really had much of an opportunity to surface. However, now that we have our first offspring it has set the wheels in motion for the obvious, “So when are you giving them a sibling?”
The question makes me cringe.
For starters, our journey with procreation is not even through it’s first year and our padawan itself is ONLY two months old. Can I please have an opportunity to just enjoy the first child before we consider forming a brood?
Seriously, they’re still in the cute phase so I cannot fathom it’s about wanting to get back to that in the way people fall in love with puppies but lose interest in adult dogs.
To me, putting pressure on my family to grow more when it is only just begun growing in the first place is just downright disrespectful and asking the question so soon is exactly that: creating unnecessary pressure.
There was a lot that went into the decision to have a first child in the first place. If we decide together as a couple we are going to grow our family further we will come to that decision in our own way in our own time. And, just like this time around, we will let the world know if and when we are ready to that that is the plan. There’s no reason to ask other than selfishly trying to influence the outcome of our ongoing decision making process.
For me, I’m not even ready to contemplate if we are going to grow our family because I would like to focus on the version of it we have at the moment. Hearing others push the idea of a second child onto us makes me feel as if they perceive the one we have as not being good enough and the family it is a part of not being complete enough. It might not be intentional but those are the feelings it evokes for me and although the padawan isn’t old enough yet to really process any of it, looking back it could be fathomable they would interpret it similarly so it’s not fair to either of us for the conversation about our family to immediately move from them to the possibility of a second child.
Going into this there was a lot of soul searching to be done about how we could handle childrearing from a financial perspective, a time and work-life balance perspective, a lifestyle perspective, an emotional perspective, a physical perspective and more. Much of this both my wife and I wore on our sleeves as we pooled the collective resources of our friends and family to understand better the decision we were making. I never felt any pressure before undergoing the process to begin it and I rarely felt pressure during it to have an outcome one way or another.
That’s not the case this time around where the is ample upfront pressure to consider all of the dynamics of a second child immediately.
Perhaps there are some reasons for this. Maybe even good reasons. But those have not yet presented themselves. Rather, I feel inundated by the nagging concept that padawan must have a brother or sister to grow up with and no other possibility could be acceptable. While I’m not completely against a larger family, I am also no where near ready to begin the process of debating the values and pitfall of it either.
What I would really like is to be left alone and able to enjoy the family I have without judgement and pressure to change it.
In the two very short months padawan has been with us I cannot even begin to put into words the profound effect it’s had on my life. I could not be happier to be their father. I could not fathom loving them more. I could not venture any scenario that would be more awesome than what this has been so far. It is beautiful and breathtaking, enlightening and exciting, and more real than I was expecting in so, so many ways. Some of which I did my best to prepare from such as with the finances, with creating a supportive work-life balance, in adjusting my lifestyle expectations and in opening my heart and thus far that has paid off in the past two months to provide the situation we’ve been living and enjoying. I want to just live in this moment and enjoy it for what it is without having to worry about all of those things all over from a duplicative perspective yet.
If there is one thing I learned from the experience thus far is you have to take the moments you’re given and enjoy them. The cliche “they grow up quickly” is all too true, be it how much things changed from stage-to-stage during the pregnancy which relatively speaking seemed to go very quickly to even now in just the two months we’ve experienced. There’s no reason to lose sight of that by switching focus quite yet and I’m perfectly content in enjoying this experience for what it is before I’ll be ready to contemplate the next one.
So, when you’re inquiring to someone about their first or their fifteenth attempt at growing their family, consider how what you think your asking comes across to the people you’re asking it to. It never is as innocent as you might be trying to make it sound.