Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Everyone Wants Our Babies

When you’re single, everyone asks when you’re going to get a steady dating partner. When you’re in a serious relationship, they ask when you’re going to get married. When you marry, “When are you gonna buy a house?” “When are you gonna have a kid?” “When are you gonna have another kid?” Then it’s, “When are you gonna retire?” Sooner or later, everyone wonders why you’re not dead yet.

I’m married, my wife and I are paying to own a house, and we have a 5-year-old boy. Everyone asks when my wife and I are going to have another kid.

“It’s so cruel to leave your son an only child,” people tell us. They make us sound like we starve our child and beat him with a garden hose if he says he’s hungry.

The other day at the grocery store, a stranger told my wife that she better have a second child before our first turns 6 -- or it’d too late. Not waiting for any logical reason why it’d be too late, my wife came to me crying and forced the “Should we have another kid?” talk, a conversation we’ve had many times.

We discussed this matter at great length in the past, and our decision to stop at one child seemed final. Why some random person from the grocery store made my wife think again was beyond me.

Friends, family, co-workers and, yes, strangers, too, have had no problem asking why my wife and I haven’t had another kid. At what point is someone so comfortable that he or she can ask when I’m going to impregnate my wife. That seems like a R-rated conversation to me.

Someone once asked me why my wife and I wouldn’t give our son a brother or a sister. I told this individual that it wasn’t that we were trying to torture our son with such a miserable and lonely life, but that in an attempt to provide a sibling for our son, like the good parents we obviously are not, we lost two babies and jeopardized my wife’s life.

“Third time’s a charm,” this person said.

I found it difficult to respond to that. But eventually I said, “Hey, if my wife can’t make a baby, I’m gonna put her down like a suffering pet and find someone else who can give me offspring.” I don’t think the lady liked that.

Another person tried to change my mind about having more kids, even though I hinted that I wasn’t comfortable with the conversation. When I told the guy my wife and I -- both working parents -- couldn’t afford another kid, he joked, “You write a family column. Why not just have the second kid and write him off as a business expense?”

I told him, “I already write off my house, cars, wife, son and vacations for that very reason, and if I add one more write-off, the IRS will surely audit me.”

The guy left the conversation thinking I actually write off my life since I write about it in my column.

In reality, my wife and I have had trouble having a second child. At one point, we assumed it was fate’s way of saying we shouldn’t have another. That was two years ago, and my wife and I haven’t had a change of mind -- for financial reasons, fate reasons and, most importantly, for health reasons.

And then came the other day when some stranger in the grocery store told my wife that she better have another kid before our 5-year-old turns 6. My wife said she felt “selfish” for not giving our boy a companion. She said our son would be “lonely.” She said our son could become “more responsible” if he had a sibling to take care of. This, of course, all came from the stranger.

Today our son has a companion thanks to his parents’ unselfishness. The boy isn’t lonely and he has responsibilities of his own. We bought him a pet fish.

-August 2008

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