My wife and I constantly get asked when our two-year-old daughter can expect a baby brother or sister. New friends are the most curious. But even strangers are guilty -- especially friends of my younger sister, whose four-strong brood barely squeezes into a single SUV.
"So...," they begin, due to the lack of natural segues into entirely inappropriate questions. Having the responsibly of keeping one child alive is only fooling around, according to these people, so isn't it time we got serious already?
At first, all I could manage were trite responses such as "soon enough" and "when it's time." This is a very sore subject. My wife and I can't have another child naturally, because that's not even how we had this one. In fact, our IVF doctor gave us only a 20 percent chance that our single surviving artificially fertilized egg would even implant, much less attend college. We are the Baron and Baroness of barrenness.
And why does every family need at least two kids to feel "normal"? My first four years were spent being an only child. And, nothing against my sister, but I had a blast not constantly competing for my parents' love, time and leftover Chinese.
My wife doesn't agree, but that's OK because I'm getting used to that. As an only child, she felt lonely in childhood, and now feels deprived of someone in her family to complain to about me. (This feeling grows especially robust following every night I spent out with the boys, and every new episode of "Parenthood.") So we agree: If we're ever in a better financial situation, we'll adopt. (Remember, though, that my profession is writing. And I think that's about all that needs to be said about the odds of a better financial situation ever happening to us.)
But whose business is our offspring count besides ours anyway? (I mean, besides yours now.) So, through highly unpleasant experimentation, I have hit upon a favorite new method for handling the younger-sibling question: TMI. I doubt I will ever tire of watching smiles fly off faces as I explain how my wife is in crazy-early perimenopause hastened by cervical cancer at age 22, while I have varicoceles in not one but both testicles.
We probably don't make as many new friends as we used to.
How do you respond to questions about another child?
Image via UmbertoBrayj/Flickr