Kate Middleton is pregnant again!
Who cares? Apparently everyone.
For a country that pretends to put little emphasis on the importance of having children, we sure do care a lot when other people do. Every time a celebrity gets pregnant it is all over the front covers of the magazines gracing grocery check-out aisles. How many times have we seen a magazine cover with an assortment of headless baby bumps? “You’ll never guess who is pregnant in Hollywood now! Turn to page 157 to find out!”
Sometimes these features are accompanied by judgment—she sure isn’t wasting any time, is she?—other times, by blissful excitement. They can’t help but remind me of the comments I often hear as mother to more than a couple kids myself.
If I had a dollar for every time a random stranger has said to me,"You've got your hands full," I would never have to work again. Every mother in America with more than two children, or who’s had two children in a short time span, has likely heard this phrase a thousand times. Often it is offered with the "I've been there, sista" spirit of a woman who has trudged this road before you. But other times, it seems meant to make you feel guilty for adding to the overpopulation of the planet, or to reprimand you for not having better control over your brood. Those comments are often offered by those who clearly have never had a child and don’t know the joy of a toddler meltdown ten minutes before the end of dinner out/shopping trip/church.
The worst comment I ever heard though, was at the supermarket several years ago. As I balanced my baby on my hip and herded my three other children into the check-out line, I heard the woman in front of me tell the cashier "If I were her, I would kill myself!" Stunned, I couldn't help but respond: “I'm glad you aren’t, as well! I think my life is awesome.” Clearly not my most witty moment, but I just couldn't let her comment slide.
Let's be honest. People in America are often baffled by the idea that some people want two or more children. Or so I gather from the comments. "Are they all yours?" (Dang it! You've found me out, these children are stolen!); "Don't you know how babies are made?" (You mean they don't just get dropped off by a stork? If only my eighth grade health teacher had been as helpful as you have been!); "Better you than me" (Better me than you, indeed!). And these are only a few of the gems that I got routinely when my kids were younger.
Just because I look harried in the supermarket doesn’t mean that I am a bad mom or that I don’t love my life. My children do not define me but they are the single best part of my life. I wouldn’t trade them for any amount of personal freedom I could’ve had otherwise.
At the same time, I am not every woman, and I don’t disparage anyone who sees things differently. Can you imagine if I said things like I hear to women who didn’t want children? “What, no children? Poor you!”; “Don’t you know how babies are made? Get snappin’!” Ridiculous.
I do not believe that all women must have children to lead a full and enriching life. It seems that women who don’t have children feel like the rest of society is pushing the desire to have babies down their throats, and women who do have babies feel like the media is telling them that in order to be an empowered woman you should be single and childless. What is going on, women? Why are we constantly attacking each other? Whether you want zero or twenty-five children, it is no one’s business but yours and the person with whom you are schlepping through this joyful madness. Have as many kids as you want! Let’s just stop judging each other.
Even though being a mother can make you look crazy and frustrated at moments, the absolute joy that we receive from having these little loves in our lives is immeasurable. In fact, it is also exactly why everyone secretly enjoys finding out when others are pregnant—celebrity or not. To every stranger that has ever offered me the age old “you’ve got your hands full,” I say: I do have my hands full, full of love.