The one-of-each mentality
I didn’t originally plan on following up on last week’s blog. After a few interesting Facebook comments from other moms, however, I decided to elaborate on one point I made.
Perhaps I am overly sensitive or over-reactive, but I am always surprised at the opinions, and sometimes rudeness, pregnancy can bring out in observers.
In recent weeks, when people notice I am pregnant, they often ask if we know whether the baby is a boy or a girl. Upon learning that No. 2 is a girl, they usually say something along the lines of, “That’s great. You’ll have one of each.” Some even add, “You’ll be done having babies after that, right?”
Just yesterday, a coworker made this assumption, and I quickly, and perhaps too bluntly, asked, “Why does everyone say that?”
A few weeks ago, a cashier at Sheetz made the “one-of-each” comment, adding “You’re lucky. I have two boys.” I was honestly confused and responded, “We would’ve been just as thrilled with another boy.”
There are two separate issues going on here. The first is that having children all of the same gender is somehow a disappointment. The second is that once a couple has children of both sexes, they are “done” having babies.
After I linked last week’s blog to my Facebook wall, a couple college friends and one-of-each moms offered some insight into these two topics.
“As the mom of a girl and a boy,” one friend wrote, “many people assumed we were done having kids because we had one of each, and even a few people said, ‘Why are you having a third? You already have one of each!’ I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I just don’t understand people. My husband and I have never cared one iota about gender. If we had three boys, three girls, whatever, it didn’t matter; we just wanted a family! When I was pregnant with our second, one family member said, ‘Oh, I hope it’s a girl,’ and I thought, ‘Okay, well there’s a 50 percent chance that it’s not a girl, and it’s awful to think of any gender as a disappointment.'”
The other friend added, “Now that we want (and have been trying for over a year for) a third, people think our family is ‘complete’ just because we have one boy and one girl. What right is it for others to think that’s right for us and think it should take away the pain of our struggles if we’re never able to conceive again?”
I completely identify with these sentiments, especially given the long wait we endured while trying to get pregnant with No. 2. Neither my husband nor I cared about gender; we just wanted a healthy baby.
This is just an overarching generalization, not based on any research or scientific study, but it seems that most couples in my parents’ generation were going for one of each. If they had a boy and a girl, they were, in fact, “done.” Even moms and dads who ended up with two children of the same gender often stopped at two because perhaps it was the societal norm.
I once heard someone quip, “Three is the new two.” I must say, I have to agree. Actually, I know more and more families who are having four children.
The second college friend I quoted above also offered this wisdom: “I’m learning more and more to keep my mouth shut about pregnancies unless they are my really close friends.”
I second that remark! Why can’t we just respect each others’ decisions, instead of being bound by expectations?
Having said all that, I realize that most people mean no ill will when they ask questions or make comments. In fact, I would like to think that if Baby No. 2 were a boy, observers would be just as happy for us. Well, I know the lady at Sheetz wouldn’t be, but maybe everybody else?
Like many trends in pregnancy, childbirth and baby raising, how many children families have is not and should not be dictated by society’s expectations.
Originally published on ovparent.com.