One of the questions that I've been getting so much lately, now that I'm expecting our fourth in six years, is, "So, is this the last one?"
Other variations include:
"You're done now, right?"
"Are you happy about being pregnant again?" (as if I've been "knocked up"--pardon the phrase--one too many times, not of my own accord)
"Are you planning to have any more?"
Recently, a well-meaning friend asked something like, "Will you keep accepting what the Lord is providing?" I honestly didn't know what she meant, but then I guessed it had something to do with family size. So I asked if she meant if we were going to have more children. Bingo. I told her maybe; we aren't planning on doing anything permanent, if that's what she was wondering.
It is funny to see the general perception regarding family size in our culture today--a perception that is revealed in questions like those above. No one asks a mom expecting her first child if she's planning to have more children. They're just thrilled she's expecting her first. Moms of two field questions like, "Are you going to have more?" I don't remember receiving lots of questions during my third pregnancy; maybe three is the commonly accepted number today. But when you hit four or more, people start to reveal their perceptions about acceptable family size. Their questions hint at their belief that you really should be wrapping things up.
My other favorite comment is: "You sure have your hands full." I've figured out it's really not a compliment. I've even started telling the boys when we go out (usually to the store) that I better not hear anyone say, "You sure have your hands full." They know what that means. We usually only get comments like that when someone (or two someone's, or three) are being too rowdy. Then the person sees me with a 6-year old, a 4-year old, a 2-year old, and a 7-month pregnant belly and feels compelled to utter, "You sure have your hands full." Hearing that more than once on a shopping outing means the trip really didn't go well and someone (or two someone's, or three) are going to receive some discipline at home. So the boys are learning that they better not behave in a way where Mom gets a comment of "You've got your hands full." I would much rather hear, "Wow, your children are really well behaved."
While we can find these questions and comments mildly irritating or offensive, we should aim to take them in stride, with a little humor. I love what Nancy Wilson writes in The Fruit of Her Hands: Respect and the Christian Woman about principles and methods. There are different ways--different methods--of applying God's principles. But as women, we can become overzealous that our method is the method every other Christian woman should follow. She writes,
I'm also wondering if it would do us good to not be so verbally expressive with questions and comments...
"Here are a few examples: 'Can you believe how often she has to go feed her baby? My baby was sleeping through the night at six weeks?' 'Your youngest is almost two? You know three children are better than two!' 'Why aren't you homeschooling?' 'Why are you homeschooling?' Women who feel free to express themselves about such things may have no idea of the damage they are doing. Common courtesy prohibits one woman from breezily criticizing another's methods. It also prohibits nosy questions, such as, 'Are you using birth control?'...Courtesy means we listen [as others share their methods] and ask questions (and not loaded questions). We don't interrupt, we don't get impatient and angry. And, if it is a sensitive issue, courtesy demands that we ask no questions and mind our own business!"As we receive questions, though, we are called Biblically to bear with one another in love (Col. 3:13) and overlook offenses (Proverbs 19:11). Aim to take it all in stride, without letting the questions (or the perceived meaning) and comments destroy unity among believers. As Mrs. Wilson reminds us, grace is needed to accomplish this!
In good humor, I would love to hear the comments or questions you receive that you find the most colorful. And, with what Mrs. Wilson wrote about courtesy, do you think we would be wise to refrain ourselves from asking semi-personal questions--even if we mean no harm and are just curious?
What do you think?