The path to Motherhood is wide! And it can sometimes be pretty painful.
We’ve been doing a ton as a society to encourage mothers lately and each Mother’s Day I see more and more posts acknowledging the longing to-be mothers, the lost mothers, and the motherless. It is SO GOOD, friends! So in honor of this Mother’s Day, I’d like to propose a little role play on how to ask those same nagging questions we all have in a different way! It’s totally okay to be inquisitive but let’s be sensitive too.
I realize that this is not an all-encompassing approach to the below scenarios. Feel free to comment your experiences below or some conversation starters that better suit you!
In the scenarios below, I’ll be “Pal” and you be Mom:
- Pal: “When are you going to have a(nother) kid?”
- Mom: “Well gee…I don’t know, Pal. Do you have a crystal ball for that sort of thing?”
- Pal: “Do you think you’d like to have a(nother) kid?”
- Mom: “Yeah. Some day. I’m not quite ready yet.”/”I don’t think it’s for me. I feel fulfilled where I’m at.”/”I’d love to. If only it were that easy, right?”
When I ask for specific timelines, I stifle conversation with you if you aren’t planning for children or if you’re struggling to answer the “When?” question yourself. When I ask in a way that allows you to talk about your plans rather than specific dates, I might get more insight into what’s really going on.
- Pal: “How old is your daughter?”
- Mom: “She’s four.”
- Pal: “You’d better get on that. You don’t want to have your kids too far apart!”
- Mom: “You know what, Pal? You’re so right. I wish I would have thought about that during my miscarriage!”/”Infertility is a bitch! Thanks for the reminder.”/”Did I say I wanted another child?”/”I’m actually planning them farther apart because it’s better for our family but I see you’ve drawn some conclusions about that so it’ll be interesting to see where the conversation goes from here…”
- Pal: “How old is your daughter”
- Mom: “She’s four.”
- Pal: “That’s great! If more kids are in your future, I’m sure she’ll love being able to participate with her baby sib!”
There are so many reasons there is only one child in a family or there is such a gap between children! Pressure to close a gap that already exists isn’t the lighthearted prod I may think it is – even if I wink or nudge you when I’m asking. If you had wanted kids close together, it might be a really painful reminder that the plan will never come to fruition. If I focus on the positives of your current situation, you may be more inclined to tell me your story.
- Pal: “Don’t you just love the baby phase?”
- Mom: “Actually I’m feeling completely isolated and am afraid I might have undiagnosed postpartum depression but I’m not sure how to respond to your question because you clearly want it to be the best so I’m going to smile and nod.”
- Pal: “Man, that phase can be so tough! How are you doing?”
- Mom: “Actually I’m feeling completely isolated. It’s not what I expected.”
- Pal: “There is no shame in that. A lot of women experience a disconnect! Have you brought it up with your doctor to see if he or she has any tips?”
The first ask isn’t really a question because it’s clear I want the answer to be yes. If I acknowledge the phase is tough, I give you space to agree or disagree and that gives me an opportunity to lend support or celebrate with you! (I’m also a firm believer that it’s always positive to normalize talking to a professional.)
- Pal: “You don’t have much time left if you want more kids!”
- Mom: “Wow. Yeah. I guess in hindsight I should have ignored my body’s queues for rest and healing between kids.”/”Wow. Yeah. I guess in hindsight I should not have had that miscarriage!”/”Wow. Yeah. Thanks for making me feel terrible about myself on so many levels!”
- Pal: “Hey, Mom. How’s it going?”
- Mom: “Good! Thanks for asking. I’m so glad you didn’t say anything awkward about my age in relation to having children. That’s always so uncomfortable and it does make me want to punch you right in the face.”
Really, there’s no good way to bring up that someone’s childbearing years may be coming to a close. I know you know how old you are.
To the four year-old at the Target dollar spot who pointed excitedly at my stomach this weekend and exclaimed, “Yay! You have a baby in your tummy!” I’d like to say:
“For the thousandth time, Emma, I will tell you when I have a baby in my tummy. Until then, it’s tacos.”
It’s always tacos 😉
Happy Mother’s Day!