A raging hormonal mama has many pet peeves, but this is one I have heard increasingly from my 3rd trimester onward. Apparently women who decide not to have children are the only ones capable of “choice” and “family planning.” It doesn’t matter that J and I intentionally used natural family planning to both avoid having children and intentionally to plan having 2 girls at 21 months apart. No — since we have 2 kids close together, we must be hyper-sexually-active Catholics who “don’t believe in birth control.”
Sorry to be snippy, but can you see how that might be insulting? Anyway, I’m only bringing it up because anytime I tell a stranger that my kids are 21 months apart, they gasp, make some kind of exclamation such as [but not limited to] “wow,” and then finally they tell me, “You’ve got your hands full!”
And I do. I do have my hands full. So why does this statement get under my skin…
#1 Because it is never sympathetic. When people hear that my kids are close in age, they have an attitude that says “Well, you got yourself into this mess, so I’m not going to assist you in anyway.” Like, I’m somehow getting what I deserve by having 2 children close in age? You’re welcome society.
#2 It’s never a reason to let a busy mama off the hook. No one ever says “Oh, we totally understand that you have to flake on this event. We know you’ve got your hands full, so don’t worry about it!” We have to juggle raising the next generation alongside fellowship and other responsibilities…. but raising children should never be a priority over any of those other things. Sure, it’s not that important anyway.
#3 It implies that I have no basic understanding of my reproductive system. Again, reminiscent of the “you got yourself into this mess,” ideology… People assume that my having 2 children is a result of some irresponsibility. But the woman, wild with sexual activity who takes birth control is somehow seen as responsible… interesting.
In any case, this post wasn’t meant to praise or condemn any woman or her choices. See, that’s the point. We’re so supportive, as a society, about a slew of so many things except parenthood and family life. THAT is what ultimately gets under my skin. So, next time you see a rowdy family at the grocery store, or a mom wrestling her kids, offer to help. Or if you don’t want to help, just tell her she’s doing a good job, or that she has cute kids, or really anything affirming… because that mama is raising your future doctor, your kids’ future teachers, maybe the next president. So trust me when I say she is worthy of support, recognition, and affirmation.