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Thursday, October 04, 2012

The reason I don't have friends at church...?

"How're you guys doing today?"

Kev and I were attending church together for the first time in three weeks and a ward-member leaned toward our pew and talked to us. Actually acknowledged our existence.

"Fine, thanks. How about you?"

"Oh, great... I see you have one little girl there, oh a cute little girl! Are you planning to have more?"

I was surprised that he was choosing this angle to lead the conversation. A conversation with complete strangers. I shrugged my shoulders in response to his question and smiled.

"My advice is you stop at three. Three is great, plenty."

My smile fades. "Or one. One is good, too."

"Oh, errhm. Yeah, one is great!"

After church Kev mentioned that I sure shut that guy up quick. But honestly, is this really how we're starting conversations? Asking about the number of children someone is going to have? Is it to gauge how good of a Mormon I am? Am I less of a mother because I cannot imagine surviving post-partum again? Should I instead have gone into those details with this random dude who thought he was making innocent chit-chat? Do you think he wants to hear about the days I suffered anxiety so badly I thought my heart would leap from my chest and fall on the floor? Should I tell him that I felt like I was hyper-ventilating for a week after Aspen was born?

Family planning is a hot-button topic for me. I went through a phase during which I didn't want children. Then I wanted a baby so badly I felt I could barely breathe. Kev and I waited and waited and waited until we thought the time was right. Then I had a baby and lost my freakin' mind. It has been the hardest thing I have ever done. So when people ask me how many more Kev and I will have, it's difficult to refrain from punching those people in the face. Do I want Aspen to have a sibling? YES. But I don't know how I'm going to do it.

I think often of the numerous friends I have who struggle with either primary or secondary infertility. How they constantly feel judged for not yet having children (or more than they already have). How they feel so much inadequacy and heartache because something isn't going according to plan. How must it feel when a stranger (or even a close friend) initiates conversations centered around having children?

It seems to me that asking how many kids a person will have is like asking a due date only to find out said person isn't even pregnant. IT'S A BIG NO-NO.

Ok, so maybe I should have figured out a better way to respond to the stranger who straight-up asked about my plans to reproduce. Maybe. Do you think I could have kept the conversation going if I had asked him if he got a vasectomy to prevent his wife from having a fourth?

16 comments:

  1. It's people like this who cause me to, at times, drop the f-bomb in my head. You should have totally said the vasectomy thing.

    And honestly, it makes me relieved to not be a part of a religion that puts so much emphasis on the family. I don't worship my family and you're right--I would have felt like an epic failure every time someone said something that stupid while Aaron and I were struggling to conceive.

    Good thing Aspen = his 3 regular kids in coolness.

    Hey! But someone talked to you!

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    1. Why doesn't your religion place emphasis on the family? Families are basis of life....whether they consist of husband and wife only, or husband and wife with ANY number of kids. Just because one guy at Livia's church made an insensitive comment doesn't mean that we can judge an entire religion on it. Anyone who is truly LDS knows that a family begins with husband and wife, and whether or not children are added to that family is an issue left to God and that couple. Heavenly Father loves us all for who we are...His children, not for how many children we have, or even if we get married. He simply loves us because we are His. And that is truly wonderful knowledge.

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    2. In my time living is Utah I've stayed relatively silent on this matter. Melissa is my wife and we are not a part of the LDS church. We are a part of the Bible is the only book for me church. In practice we follow the structure of the Bible as absolute truth. We respect the LDS view on family importance but for us and in accordance to scripture our love for God should make our love for family feel like hate. The apostle Paul even said it would be better to not be married.

      So, the Bible is not anti family but strict on guiding our priories to Love each other and God first. Do I do that to my fullest every day.... nope. No one does because we're flawed individuals. So before we make judgments based on misplaced priorities we need to love our God and neighbor.

      Sorry for the rant Liv!

      -Aaron (Melissa's husband)

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  2. Your baby is only two! Why do people even ask that question? Its not a race or competition to see how quickly you can get a large family here. I know that I've hinted that aspen should get a buddy, hopefully you know that I am only teasing you :) because I know how crazy hard 2 was for me and I make cruel jokes like that. I think one is a nice number but I also think 14 is a fun number too but my opinion doesn't matter for anyones family but my own. Good luck with your new ward maybe someone thoughtful will talk to you in the weeks to come!

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  3. You're right, Liv. Asking a stranger about family planning issues is probably insensitive and certainly tacky. Family size and timing is an intensely personal decision, and even more heart-wrenching when it's NOT a decision because the decision has been made for you due to medical or other circumstances.

    I have compassion for Brother Bumbles, though. Talking to new people is scary, and navigating potential topics can feel like a mine field sometimes. Babies/pregnancy? Off the table. Politics? Please bless no. Spouse? I don't have one, thanks a bunch for reminding me (or whatever else the circumstances are). Where do you work? Rough on stay at home moms who wish they weren't and working moms who feel judged because they do, and awful for the unemployed. Favorite foods? Bizarre, and also are you calling me fat?

    I generally feel terrible for not initiating conversation at all with new people because of my own insecurities and/or shouting children. There is no good enough reason for me to neglect being kind and welcoming, but sometimes I do. I hope that I am forgiving of the poor, silly soul who accidentally hurts me while doing his best.

    Like that time my uncle asked me if I was pregnant. (Not, but sure felt great about myself afterwards.)

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  4. Kris, you're right about everything being a potentially dangerous topic of conversation. I totally get that.

    And yes, I probably could have been nicer when he asked his question, but SERIOUSLY.

    I think the funniest part about that Sunday, which I omitted in my post, is that the person who offered the invocation asked the Lord to bless the ward with new members. I wanted to stand up and shout HERE I AM!!

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  5. Ugh I hate that topic too! It seems like as soon as Ella popped out people have been asking me how many more are we going to have? Um really!?!

    Hanging out with me has probably made you never want to have another! I struggle bad, but my kids are really close in age too.

    I miss you and milo misses aspen. We should do a play date at the southe end of the valley soon.

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  6. Wait until they start asking what infertility treatments you've tried after finding out you've been married for seven years and don't have kids. Without even knowing if you're infertile. That's awesome.

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  7. hi liv! so sorry to hear about your PPD. my sister was so hard hit with it after her first daughter we were all really scared she wouldn't make it. it is so real and so hard. i'm sure you've heard this, but she did find ways to get through better with her subsequent births. prozac once, (no nursing but so worth it for her) another anti-anxiety drug + st. johns for another. both helped a great deal. not completely gone and still a struggle, but not curled up in a ball of tears for weeks and weeks. i only mention this because i hope you won't feel too hopeless if you DO end up deciding another child is right for you. i can't imagine how scary even contemplating going through that again must be and i am inspired by your strength for pulling through. and YES! one is wonderful too! you and kev and aspen and the big guy are the only ones in charge of knowing if one is the perfect number for you.

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  8. @Anonymous: It's not that Melissa is part of a congregation that DOESN'T support families. I would have a similar opinion as hers if I, too, were not LDS and had moved to Utah in my "child-bearing" years. All around you see LDS people have many many many children. And the reason most give for having a gigantic family? Because they're commanded to do so. I think it's a misinterpretation of gospel principle. Yes, families are important. But we don't need to have a huge one in order to be following commandments of the gospel.

    I know Melissa cherishes her family, both before and after her daughter was born. She is one of the most sincere and open-minded Christians I have ever met. And in jest, I say that she feels this way even though she didn't have the millions of lessons in Young Women telling her to get married in the Temple and start a family OR ELSE!!!

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  9. I too feel judged at times by the number of children that my husband and I chose to have. I think that it was Andrew and mine's decision alone of how many children we thought we were able and capable in raising. Did I include God in my quest, yes. We really only wanted two children and after years of struggling for a child we were blessed with our baby boy and then nine months later blessed again. After our second was only two months old we took matters into our own hands and limited our family to four. We are 100% content with our decision and when asked if we are having more and I say, no-I usually get a comment after. Mostly it is, "You are not trying for a girl?" We had the number of children we desired and if I am correct-getting pregnant again would not guarantee us a girl. I try to be sensitive to this subject as I know how personal this decision is for families. Knowing you, I don't think that you were being rude to the unkown man, just honest with your answer. I am the same way when I say that we are done having kiddo's.

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  10. I am feeling this right now. We've been married for 10 years and still don't have any kids. Maybe 1 day. I tell people that we haven't been married long enough. My friend tells people that she is saving up for a boat. It makes me laugh every time.

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  11. I, too, often feel judged...for having TOO MANY children. Perhaps all of our feelings that we're being judged comes from our own insecurities? Maybe people aren't judging, but we feel like they are because we have some doubt in our head as far as our decisions go. I don't know. But, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they're not purposefully being rude, but are just trying to talk (easier said than done, I know). I know I've said some things to others that came out wrong, even though I had the best of intentions.

    As far as post-partum depression goes: For me, it gets worse with each child and it comes out in the form of anger and severe hopelessness and feelings of constantly being completely overwhelmed. Some days are good, some are really horrible. I think far more people go through it than are willing to admit, because for some reason it is hard to admit. I feel for you because it is such a lonely, desperate time. I'm in the midst of it still and no one seems to understand. Many people don't even ask because I am function-able on the surface and it's perhaps hard to see. It's really difficult, to say the least.

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  12. I do believe part of the problem is feeding our own insecurities. But it isn't completely in our heads that others care so much about how many kids other people have. Since there is so much emphasis in church lessons, people think it gives the right to have an opinion outside their own homes.

    And when it comes to PPD, I, too, believe more people go through it than will admit. But somehow, when everyone on my street had a baby the same summer I did, I felt like the only crazy person who couldn't even get out of bed to eat.

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  13. I've thought about this since you first posted. It's not our place to judge! You won't judge me because my two are so close together, and in turn, I won't judge you for only have 1 child. Everyone is different. It get's awkward when people ask if I'm going to have more. Due to health reasons, two is all I get to have, and I hate explaining every detail to others.
    How many children you have is between you, your spouse, and the Lord! Don't ever let anyone make you feel guilty! We are all different!

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