How to steer clear of baby no2 interrogations and stick to talking about the weather, by mum-of-one Lucy Mangan
‘It goes so fast!’ is the eternal cry of motherhood. You’re pregnant forever and then – they’re newborns for five minutes, toddlers for a day and then, suddenly, (I’m told) school kids, teenagers, students and adults with jobs and even (ridiculously, unfeasibly) children of their own, all before you’ve had time to finish a cup of tea.
It's Not Their Business
But what goes equally fast, and with less remark, is the schedule other people have for you. If you breastfeed, you can expect enquiries about when you’re planning to give up to come thick and fast. And when you’re going to start weaning (soon), potty training (soon), having sex again (not soon) and a million other things besides.
But no query – not even the sex one – is quite as intrusive or fraught as the one that starts to make itself felt from around the two-year mark; namely if and when you are planning to have another child.
Don't Feel Pressure
‘I get it all the time,’ says my friend, whose son is three and a half. ‘I just batter them into submission. I talk them through our finances, our career prospects, the anxiety of feeling like you must always be leaving one child shortchanged, compared to the worry about us dying and leaving him alone in the world… They always back off before I’m done.’
I have another friend who sticks to the method that served her well in adolescence – ‘I just say “dunno, really” and start scuffing the ground. Which probably means I shouldn’t have been allowed to have one baby, let alone two.’ And another who says ‘I always want to say “No, I’m afraid my vagina is still broken” but I’m too polite. But really – how is it anyone’s business?’
Certainly it is one of those questions that can rarely lead to a positive outcome. It makes all the people who haven’t decided yet feel pressured. It makes all those who have decided one is enough feel judged. And of the ones who have decided that they do want another, the chances are that conceiving the little bugger is proving anywhere between tricky and grief-inducing.
Change The Subject
Which means, of course, that you are best advised to steer well clear. Talk about the weather. There’s a reason it’s such a popular topic of conversation, you know. Nobody ever burst into sobs because you observed that it’s a touch parky for this time of year. Nobody ever threw a wobbly when discussing the likelihood of rain.
That said, I still do it. I ask. Mainly because I want people to help me make my own mind up. Because at the moment, I’m just… dunno really. *Kicks bottom of bus stop* I just… dunno.
Lucy’s new book Charlie's Chocolate Factory: the Complete Story of Willy Wonka, the Golden Ticket and Roald Dahl's Greatest Creation is out on September 4th.