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Several years back, my large little family attended a family reunion. We were all happy to be there, having not seen brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, and cousins in a long time. I proudly sported a 6 month baby bump, and I felt like I actually looked great in my fuchsia shirt and denim skirt. I was happy and excited that God had blessed my womb once again. Then someone crushed my spirits by questioning our family decisions, make light of the miracle of life, and ultimately shunning me for having more than 2.5 kids.
“Ummm, don’t you know what causes that?”
For just a moment, I was taken aback because this was only my 4th child. Quickly, I regained my composure, and I couldn’t believe what I was about to say. I looked at my brother-in-law, and I said, “Why yes, yes I do, and I quite enjoy it.” I laughed as much because I was a bundle of nerves as I did at the shocked expression on his face, while I proudly walked away.
Admittedly, I could have given a better, more appropriate response, but in the moment I chose to give a snarky reply to a stupid question. Here’s the deal…not a single one of us need an anatomy lesson, and the person asking the question, well, he wanted to be cute and witty and make me blush. I have figured out that people who ask this question either 1) feel awkward and think they need to say something even if it’s stupid, or 2) they think it’s fun to embarrass you just a little.
Don’t you know what causes that?!
Since when did it become appropriate to question a woman about her fertility, in a public setting no less?
Some women are pregnant for the the 7th time, yes, but she and her husband take care of their children. They do not depend on any other person to do that for them. Please don’t assume that all people who have large families are relying on some kind of assistance, whether financial or the constant physical help of others. Maybe this family is just trying to be obedient to the call of God on their lives.
My husband and I work hard to take care of the treasures God has given us. So, when they (you know who they are) pay my bills and take care of my kids, they might have a right to ask me that question. But they don’t. And they don’t have a right to ask you either, friend.
What about the other end of the spectrum?
Some women don’t have children, but that’s not of their own choosing. How is it that the woman who doesn’t have children is also bombarded with this ridiculous question? Perhaps she’s been longing for a baby in her womb for years and years. She may have experienced life in her womb only to watch it fade away. How do you know she hasn’t experienced that over and over? And over.
You know the hurt
Mamas, so many of you know this ache. So many of you would never ask this question. And some of you only joking would let these words slip over your lips, yet you would never mean it to hurt or cut. The truth is, though, it does.
It hurts the woman who has six kids and is carrying another. She’s tired and weary, but she treasures those gifts from God.
That woman who longs with all her heart to see two lines on that pregnancy test knows what causes that, yet something isn’t working. She hurts, but she still tries to smile at her friends as they announce their joyous news.
The one who has seen the double lines multiple times but has yet to hold her little treasure in her arms…she knows, too, and she doesn’t understand why. And she hurts.
If you can’t say somethin’ nice…don’t say nothin’ at all
If you don’t know someone’s story, and likely you don’t, please don’t ask this question. Instead, focus on what she has, not what she doesn’t have. If she’s a mama with a boatload of kids, tell her how blessed she is or how good of a job she’s doing, or offer to lend her a hand. Maybe she’s a woman with no kids…don’t focus on her lack of children. If you are close to her, give open lines of communication, but don’t press her. Love her. Be there for her. Pray for her.
About a year ago, I read this blog post, and it resonated within me. While for many years now I’ve been subject to the dreaded question, this post reminded me of others who are suffering silently, putting on a mask so that people will just leave them alone. Let’s be cautious and mind our own wombs, doing what God has called us to, and loving one another along the way!