Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"When'll You Have the Next One?"

With a toddling sixteen month old I’ve noticed that one particular question seems to be coming up a lot lately (actually I guess it’s two separate questions, but they are basically the same question when it comes down to it). I hear it from people I know well and from casual acquaintances. They say it with a smile and raised eyebrows and I suddenly find myself grinding my teeth a bit (a habit which I’ve really got to get rid of because it gives me a headache). The answer is simple, in truth, but I’ve learned that the truth doesn’t always bring positive reactions. That’s because in this case, the truth tends to be rather counter cultural. Can you guess what the questions are?

Here goes:

“So, when are you going to have the next one?” or “So are you going to have anymore.”

When we first started getting these questions (about a year ago) I tried plain and simple honesty. To the question “when are you going to have the next one” I’d say, “Whenever God decides to add to our family” and to the question “are you going to have anymore” I’d say “we hope so and if God wills it we definitely will have as many as he sends us” (or something along those lines).

The looks stopped just short of jaw dropping. You would think I’d just let out a stream of profanity. Some people shake their heads, horrified by the idea of letting God dictate how many children we will bring into the world. Now that I think about it, we never actually got a positive reaction. Once I actually heard “oh not that many!” in response to the answer that we would take as many as God gives us.

And that’s probably why I dread the question so much now.

You see, the last century taught women and men that they needed to “take control of their sexuality.” They took control of their fertility too and now many women believe that controlling that fertility is an innate right, regardless of the cost. The idea that we’re letting God decide what happens is foreign these days, even among the majority of young people who claim to be “Catholic.”

Fortunately I think I’ve finally figured out how to answer the question. I won’t lie, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have to give an actual answer. When people say “when’s the next one coming along?” I smile and shrug and most people take that to mean “not for a very long time.” And the reasoning that leads them to that conclusion is a little bit sad. Our society has forgotten that children are a blessing and a gift from God and not a burden to be carried simply because we must.

We’ll take all the blessings God sends our way!

And that is my honest and full answer to that frequently asked question!


  1. Well with 12 pregnancies in 13 years it was never a problem for me!

  2. I wouldn't mind if God decides to bless us in that way, but so far it seems like my daughter is nursing soooooooooo much that it's keeping that from happening! We are hoping it happens soon, but we've been hoping that for months... oh well... in God's time.... I'm finding it works both ways. Maybe this is another lesson in patience for me!

  3. I felt so bad when i lied to my husband's aunt this past weekend. She was asking when we were having the next one (late May 2010) but since we're not ready to tell his side of the family yet, I said not just yet. She followed up by saying at least a 2 year gap is best because of potty training. I'm sure that worked fine for her, but we're not spacing our children to "make things easier".

  4. Cam,
    Sarah from St. Louis again. My husband was in law school when we had our first baby, and he had year left, I was working as a manager at Target and I got this question all the time, I gave the same answers that "whenever God wants to or however many he wants to bless us with" All the women I worked with had nannies and worked 10-14 hours and most had their token 2 kids, boy and girl of course and it was always so sad. I realized that it was very depressing to work in a place where no one shared your views. Luckily we are done with that now!
    Fun sidebar, I think your maternity dress is from Motherhood...I wanted that same dress but my husband liked this hideously loud one more and I bought it for him....wore it once and he realized it was pretty bad on a pregnant woman. I do have the same sweater too :)

  5. I've been married for a year and people ask 'what I'm waiting for'. I then explain that not all women get pregnant just like that and that I'm happy to let it happen naturally, without turning it into a medical problem at this stage. I'm then normally asked whether I plan to have one or two children. I've started replying that I'd love to have more than that. That answer absolutely shocks people. They look at me like I'm some kind of a crazy hippy who doesn't understand that children cost a lot of money and that my lifestyle would be ruined. (These things have actually been said).

  6. Hi Joanna-
    I don't know if I already said congratulations, but either way, "Congratulations!" I just don't know what we're going to do if I end up expecting again soon. My family is very much against it and is making that abundantly clear (just in case we're thinking about it I guess). I think we would have to move out of our cabin on our property if we find out I'm pregnant in the near future, because I think it would, sadly, cause a huge fight.

    Apparently there's a rumor going around town that I'm expecting and they heard it and that's what started the whole conversation! But we'd like ours to be close together too, so they can hopefully be closer friends!

  7. Hi Sarah-
    We definitely get the horrified expression a lot when we say we want to have a big family! It's definitely not trendy to say we want more than two or three!

    The motherhood dress was definitely one of my favorites. When I was carrying Sadie I got so big that most of my shirts wouldn't even cover my stomach and towards the end I wore that dress all the time. I still wear the sweater quite a bit these days, although it certainly is bright pink!

  8. Hi Natasa-
    It's so strange when people assume everyone will have one or two children and then can't hide their shock if you say you want more than that. We run into that a lot too (sometimes from family, sadly enough!). We've also run into the idea that if you can't pay for all your kids to go to a university, in full, you shouldn't have them. I just want to say, "do you think someone would rather not be born than not have a full ride to college?" It's such absurd logic!

  9. Don't worry after number two everyone is horified if you go on to three and assume it must be an accident !

    Pretty dress and love the red Shabby Apple one.


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