One Little Question – A Number of Emotions

question mark

“How many kids do you have?” It seems like such a basic question. Kind of like, “Where are you from?” or “What neighborhood do you live in?” It always sounds so generic when you hear that type of question.

”HOW MANY CHILDREN DO YOU HAVE?”

For some people, that one little question can come with judgment or pity and can evoke such strong emotion, like tears or anger.

Whether you are still waiting for your first child or rival the Duggar Family in number of children, or are somewhere in between, it seems that others have something to say about your family dynamics.

“You don’t have any children yet?”

“When ARE YOU going to have children?”

“He/she really NEEDS a sibling!”

“Are ALL of those children yours?”

“I don’t know how YOU do it?!”

“I could never have THAT many children!”

No reunion or holiday is safe, as family members want to know about every detail of your family or give their two-cents worth about your family dynamics, no doubt with what they say are your best interests in mind. Girlfriends of mine who have had totally different experiences just want to “get it,” but don’t truly get it, so they ask questions or tell you the best way to do it is the way they did. And just when you think it is safe to head to the store for some milk and a little eye shadow, the person behind you in line decides to make small talk over your family make-up as well.

Family members asked immediately after we got married when we would start our family. It was slow going to say the least. I often wonder why people feel so comfortable asking about something that, for the most part, involves sex. It is kind of like your grandmother asking you if you and your husband have been getting frisky under the sheets (cue: loud gagging sound). 

For some folks just beginning their adoption journey, being asked if they have any children can lead to a brief lesson on home studies and paperwork for the person who asked. When my husband and I were waiting, that one little question, “Do you have any children?” was enough to put me in tears, as I wanted nothing more than to share our life with a child and did not know when that day would come.

Judgment can come from anywhere. When we started adoption number two, one family member said (and with a tone, no less), “I guess you will never go back to work once you have two.” A comment that opens a whole other can of worms, but I will focus on the judgment of expanding my family. Whether it is the mom of two down the street that cannot believe you can handle 3 children, because she couldn’t, or the sweet aunt that won’t stop asking you why you haven’t provided your son with a brother or sister, it is no one else’s business to judge how many children you have or hope for. 

Believe me, I have looked like a 3 ring circus walking through the grocery store with my three darlings; it is true. Some days I wondered why I even left the house. Raising three little ones, each 2 years apart, my house looked like a small daycare. There were days when sippy cups in the house outnumbered coffee cups. Days I felt like the stump of the “GIVING TREE”.  But that was my business. That was my choice. I was outnumbered. And those are the days I would not trade for anything in this world. Those same folks that have said “I COULD NEVER HAVE DONE THE THIRD CHILD!” may be shocked to know that I would have been the little old woman who lived in a shoe had my husband not felt like three was the number for us.

There are many people, whether you build your family biologically, through adoption, or a little of both, who feel the need for their feelings on the issue to be heard, though I am not sure why. 

Do not feel pressured by an intrusive question, and no matter what is said, do not let a feeling of judgment sway your vision of YOUR family. Unless these folks are going to be getting up with a little one at night, doing homework and then rushing your children onto the next activity, feeding and clothing your kiddos, waiting up till 11 pm for your teenage driver to get home safely, putting your child(ren) through college and making the sacrifices that go with any and all of those things, what they say really means nothing. They will not be LIVING IT.

My children are my light, my love, my joy, all of the best of me and the future generation. So I ask, who is anyone to tell me they are too much or that they are not enough? Whether you have one child or 8, that is for you to decide. And if you have a partner, certainly it is for the two of you to decide. Only you know what your life, your relationship and your finances can handle. No one else.