Tina Fey has an only child. And in a New Yorker essay on working motherhood that has been making the rounds of the blogosphere this week, the 30 Rock star gave voice to the one thing the one and done mothers of the world want you to know.
As Tina says: "The second-worst question you can ask a woman is: 'Are you going to have more kids?' This is rude."
Rude because we have thought about this. A lot. Maybe not the way Tina Fey thinks about it. At least, we're not nearly as hilarious (except in the eyes of our solitary child), and we don't worry that taking time off from work for pregnancy will derail a TV show that employs 200 people.
But it's a question that doesn't get asked if you have two kids or more. It's a question reserved for women like Tina Fey, who has one daughter, Alice, 5, and an amazing career doing what she loves. It's a question reserved for women like me, who has one daughter just three months older than Alice, and is quite decidedly done with making babies.
And despite the questions -- nay, the accusations -- thrown at me when I mention this, I'm neither barren (actually, "we" fixed the childbearing situation) nor lazy (again, we acted upon this). I'm not selfish -- in fact, my sole daughter will likely one day wish she had a sibling if only to divert some of the constant attention. Nor am I self-absorbed -- see also lavishing constant attention.
The fact is, when people ask mothers who have just one child if we are going to have another, it's not a question. It's a statement. It's an offer to "help" us silly little women who don't know what a uterus is made for. It's as though they're enlightening us, as though this is something we never considered, and it is their job to bring us up to speed on all that siblings can offer. As though we may not know that.
Tina's ear-nose-and-throat doctor, who she is seeing because of stress-induced canker sores, tells her she needs to have another child because, well, she (the doctor) has two. Which Tina dismisses because she is there in that doctor's office because of a stress-induced ailment. It's an apt reminder that there's little thought to a one and done mom's current life when the question is thrown out there.
Is she financially able to have another child? Is her uterus up to it? Is she, perhaps, stretched to the limit and thinking that anything more will send her tumbling down the precipice? Is she struggling with infertility? Mental illness? Diabetes? You who ask don't have to think about what our lives would be like with another child. Because -- surprising though it may be for you -- we have.
What's most curious about this question isn't that you think we need another child, but why. If you think we're such bad parents in making the decision to stop at one, what about us leaves you thinking we'd be better with two? Wouldn't it be better for the world if we only contributed one screwed-up child to it?
We've thought out the permutations of having another child in our lives. Have you?
Image via nick step/Flickr