Folk have certain expectations of what you should do with your life – and when.
When you’ve been with your partner for more than a month or two everyone starts asking when you’re going to move in together. Five minutes after you’ve managed to make that momentous leap people start questioning when you’re going to get married. “Do you want to get married?”, ” “Isn’t it about time you got married?” “When are you going to make an honest woman of her?” etc. etc. If you succumb to all this then the second you’ve exchanged rings – or even before – folk start quizzing you about starting a family. We broke the rules here and whilst we did get engaged we had a baby before getting married. Shocking I know. Only shortly after we got engaged people started asking us about babies. This question in particular is soo thoughtless. I was once asked ‘isn’t it about time you two stopped having fun and started having babies?’ What the lady didn’t know was that I’d had a miscarriage a couple of months earlier. I very nearly told her but decided to spare her blushes by joking about how much we love wine and travel. Well, that’s no joke. We DO love wine and travel.
It seems that the questioning about children goes on and on until you have one. We were lucky and managed to have a baby girl not too long after. But that wasn’t enough. Our baby was less then a week old before people started asking if we were going to have another. Seriously, the stitches were still fresh! This went on and on with people telling us that it wasn’t fair on the child to stop at one and that we shouldn’t leave it too long. Whenever I went out and didn’t drink or was a bit bloated people would say things like “ooh is there something you’re not telling us?”. It seriously felt like all eyes were on me. Watching, waiting, expecting.
Instead we got married which only seemed to add to people’s insistence that we should be having another baby soon. As it turned out we did have another baby about a year after our wedding and then something strange happened. This time the questions stopped. We had obviously achieved what was expected of us in life. University, mortgage, marriage, babies (not in that order). It seems like that’s it. Nothing else required.
So when people heard that we were having a third baby the reactions were quite different. More like “you’re having ANOTHER baby!?!?” and “oh my god! You’re pregnant AGAIN!” or “was it planned!?”. My favourites for ultimate cheek were “did you get drunk and forget the contraception?” and “Oh dear, I bet that was a shock!”. Three children it appears are not expected. Two. You’re supposed to stop at two. Ideally one of each flavour around two years apart. Anything else seems to be considered a bit of a failing. I hate to think what is said to people who have FOUR children or twins or worse ……….none! Its just totally assumed that everyone wants to have children so if you break this norm and don’t have any rather than just leave it those same people either keep asking or after a while start speculation that there is something wrong. As though its unfathomable that anyone might choose not to have children.
I realise that often there is no ill will from these nosy parkers. Some people are just keen to share their thoughts with everyone or are only trying to make conversation but I really do wish that they would consider the impact of what they’re saying.