Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Whiny Wednesday: People Who Ought to Say Nothing April 4, 2012

Kathleen’s post about mistakes and well-intentioned people got me thinking about people who really ought to just mind their own business.

A few years ago, when I my glorious plans for motherhood were just beginning to come crashing down around my ears, Mr. Fab and I went wine tasting. As a rich, fruity cabernet was hitting my bloodstream and making my crappy world feel better, a woman (whose world was feeling a little too good) leaned over and said, “Should you be drinking?”

I was confused for a moment, until I realized she was peering at my belly. Admittedly, I’d put on a few stress pounds over the previous year, but I was beyond mortified that she’d mistaken my bloat for a pregnancy, especially considering that was the one thing I was truly aiming for.

I’d like to tell you that she realized her mistake immediately, but alas, she had to ask me twice – the second time for everyone around us to hear.

So, while I agree that most people are well-intentioned when they make a faux pas, in some cases, people just ought to keep their traps shut and mind their own damn business.

It’s Whiny Wednesday, ladies. Let ‘em fly.


45 Responses to “Whiny Wednesday: People Who Ought to Say Nothing”

  1. Nicole Says:

    I just saw “The Ups and Downs of Motherhood” on The Today Show. A bunch of Moms complaining about how difficult parenting is. I’m sure it is … but I would love to have the opportunity. For some reason, it really irritated me!

    I unfriended another person on Facebook yesterday. She was one of the “I’m pregnant …. April Fool’s Day!” posters. I let that go and then she posted a link to an article about Mom’s who “have only one child”. That was enough – unfriend.

    OK, I feel better now!

    • Nicole Says:

      Moms, not “Mom’s” in the second paragraph. Ugh!

    • Kate B Says:

      Here’s a lesson I learned – don’t ever even think of saying that you wish you would have the opportunity to experience the difficulties of pregnancy or parentinig in any place that a parent may venture. You will be attacked. They take it as criticism of their complaints, rather than reading it as a longing on your part. And they circle the wagons. I made that mistake on my blog – a blog which I didn’t know some members of a message board group I belonged to read. I was villified for what I said – when all I was trying to say was how much I wanted that too and I even said the pregnant lady complaining had the right to complain. It’s one of those times you see a real divide – a real us v them.

  2. Maria Says:

    I have always looked 10 years younger than I am. When people find out I don’t have children, they say things like, “oh you really should have children, you would be such a good mother, they are such a joy, you are missing out on so much, what are you waiting for?” etc. I always thought to myself, yes, I am aware I would be a great mother, I’m aware of the joys, I know what I’m missing out on and unfortunately this is one aspect of my life I have no control over. Nobody needs to convince me. You are so right, people need to mind their own f-ing business!

    • IrisD Says:

      I find that those “reminders” by parents on what I’m “missing” out on, on what will happen to me if I don’t have children, i.e. who is going to take care of me… etc., etc., are a big part of what made me an anxious mess when I realized I was not getting pregnant. I think that if the society around us didn’t elevate the experience of “parenthood” to such heights, those of us unable to to conceive would probably have an easier time focusing on what is good in our lives and accepting that everyone’s path in this life could be different, but equally acceptable, meaningful, fulfilling, i.e. that there is nothing wrong with our lives as they are. I know that the comments by parents in my family, among friends, in the media, etc. has had a huge impact on my feelings and in creating a sense of panic that my life isn’t where it should be, that my future is bleak… Lately sometimes I think of death, not in terms of suicide, etc., but in the sense that all of us, parents or non-parents are heading in the same direction and that is the one thing we all share and I focus on what a waste of energy these negative, scarry feelings are. Looking younger than you are is a great thing, but it does keep the questions coming, doesn’t it?

      • Betsy Says:

        Wow. Thank you, Iris. I agree. You are so right. “I think that if the society around us didn’t elevate the experience of “parenthood” to such heights, those of us unable to to conceive would probably have an easier time focusing on what is good in our lives and accepting that everyone’s path in this life could be different, but equally acceptable, meaningful, fulfilling, i.e. that there is nothing wrong with our lives as they are.” For me, this crystallizes and answers my ambivalent feelings about infertility. The CONSTANT messages that we are missing out on something SO fundamental that we cannot truly be whole as human beings unless we give birth seem to always re-inflict the feelings of guilt and inadequacy (e.g. you didn’t want it enough, sacrifice enough to do whatever it took to birth a baby, etc.) just as soon as I start to feel OK, happy or joyous as 40 year old, childless woman.

      • loribeth Says:

        Hear, hear, Iris!! : )

      • loribeth Says:

        (Or should that be “here, here””??) ; )

      • IrisD Says:

        Apparently, Loribeth, it is “hear hear”…. from “hear ye” or “hear him”, “her” in this case. But I had to google! 🙂 I’m a regular reader of your blog, btw. All the best!

  3. Kate B Says:

    Do people never learn? Even if you weren’t trying to get pregnant and you were just a little pudgy – that’s so insulting.
    A long time ago, my mother taught me never to ask about when people planned to have kids. We were on a bus tour of Europe and there was a very nice young coupld – very Catholic couple – in the group. Some of the others asked them why they didn’t have kids yet. My mother was horrified. She said you never know what someone’s story is – that maybe they were even on this trip to get over having lost a baby. It’s just one of those areas into which people should not stick their nose. But they do. I would really like to respond to the next person who asks me that kind of question with “When you give me an acceptable reason as to why that is any of your business, I will tell you.”

    • IrisD Says:

      I admit that I did at one point in my life ask people when they were planning to have kids. In my own defense, this was when I was in my teens, ok, maybe even 20 years old, but never after that. I was young and inexperienced, I don’t get why older people still ask this question, by the time they are in their 40s and 50s or older even, haven’t they had friends or family members that were unable to have children, or who have miscarried, etc? Your mother is a wise woman and I think that asking someone about their maternal status should be ingrained in everyone’s head as one of those “no-nos”. My family is from Cuba and on a recent 3 week trip I was asked around 20 something times if I had children or why I did not have children. It really put a damper on an otherwise nice trip.

  4. mina Says:

    I got into that situation once and actually managed to answer: “I’m not pregnant, just overweight”.
    That shut her up quickly.
    The thing is – this woman was a friend of my boyfriend (at the time) and she asked me that question on the ladies toiles during a wedding party. But since my mind was so much on babies and i SWEAR she peered at my belly, i was sure she meant to ask if i was pregnant – when actually it’s possible she only meant “and when are you two getting married”.

    • IrisD Says:

      I do bet that people who ask other people if they are pregnant and are then told “No, I’m overweight” or “bloated” or “fat”, or “its the dress”, or “the shirt”, etc. probably never ask that question of anyone else again. They’ve always looked embarrased enough or regretful of having asked.

  5. Quasi-Momma Says:

    What about the inevitable “have you considered adoption” question that follows when you finally get the courage to tell someone your situation? Like that’s so easy or affordable.

    • Maria Says:

      Yes, I hate that question too. When I tell people I’m not as young as they think, I’m 45, they say why don’t you use a donor egg or adopt? Like its a guarantee and the easiest thing in the world. I want to say to them, why don’t YOU use a donor egg or adopt? I shouldn’t have to explain the reason behind my choice to anyone, it’s incredibly personal. What I hate is that they assume I must not want kids because I never adopted and didn’t use a donor egg. I did pursue adoption and I couldn’t take any more disappointment. I had to save my emotional sanity and move away from the constant disappointment. Why should I have to explain that to anyone, particularly a stranger?

      • Quasi-Momma Says:

        I hear you. I’ve gotten into the habit of replying, “Do you have $40,000 you can give me?” Usually puts an end to it. Those who are really brave have replied, “What about adopting from foster care?” (Again, like that is so easy.) I’m with you. It’s none of their business.

      • Nadine Says:

        At first, when people ask me why dont you just adopt, I took the time to explain how expensive and time-consuming it was. Most people seems to think it’s so easy. Once, in a bad mood, I answer, why didnt you adopt since it is so easy. Like you, I feel like I need to validate my choice to a nosy stranger and it makes me mad.

      • Kellie Says:

        Since reading a wonderful blog earlier this week that gave me this idea….my new answer to when people ask me “why don’t you just adopt”, I will reply, from now on, that “we have decided to travel the world instead”. I actually got to use this yesterday when someone asked me the dreaded question, and you know what…she looked at me, a bit caught off guard, but replied with the comment of how lucky we are to have the freedom to be able to do that. I walked away feeling good and not irritated, as I usually am after being asked certain questions.

  6. Maria Says:

    Have you pursued foster care? I hate that one too. If anyone researched that, and all the issues that come with it, they would shut up. I know someone who accepted a newborn as a foster child and was told by CPS that the adoption was a guarantee. She had the baby a whole year. CPS called her and said the Court awarded custody back to the mom and she had only 24 hours to prepare. It was the saddest thing in the world. I would never survive that one. People who ask that question are just plain stupid.

    • Klara Says:

      in my country, if you adopt, birth mother has whole 365 days to change her mind. It would brake my heart! I can imagine, it is the saddest thing in the world – giving back beloved baby…

  7. Kellie Says:

    My whine for the day is that I have to spend Easter at the in-laws!

  8. Lane Says:

    I’m soooo tired of talking about it!! I hate that LOOK I get when I reply, no, I don’t have kids. It’s like I’m from another planet or something. Women absolutely CANNOT relate to another woman if she doesn’t have kids. I want to say, remember when you were young, before kids, that’s who I am and what I’m like!!!! Let’s talk fashion, or movies, or ANYTHING at all but your progeny!!!

  9. jeopardygirl Says:

    I don’t know if this is a whine, but…

    I got called a ‘dipshit’ today on Twitter, by a stranger, because I told her she was intolerant when she said people who can’t carry children are not women. (I did delete my comment several seconds after, but I’m sure it hit her inbox, and that’s why she tried to denigrate me.) She was referring to the transgendered Miss Universe contestant who was disqualified, but she used such a broad generalization in her response to someone else, I couldn’t help but be provoked.

    • CiCi Says:

      Intolerant was a nice word on your part…I would have chosen something more along the lines of ignorant! It’s that mentality that keeps all of us ladies feeling the way we don about ourselves. We are women with or without children. We are valuable, we still have purpose and dreams and lives too!!!!

      Oooh, I think I just made that a double whine. Sorry!

  10. Nadine Says:

    as for my whine for today. One of my coworkers just had her baby and I am inundated with pictures on facebook, in my office email and in my personnal email. I just delete them, I dont look, but it makes me so sad.

  11. Ceej Says:

    My whine – being told by people with children (even people not much older than me) that because I’m 29 I “am still so young”. Yeah? I know! But that doesn’t mean that trying for over 4 years isn’t exhausting/discouraging/frustrating/stressful/etc/etc . That doesn’t mean that there can’t come a point where enough’s enough; where I’ve had more than the recommended lifetime dosage of Clomid and the next step is crippling in cost and emotional toll. My age doesn’t come into play, it’s what I’ve been through already.

    The other one that gets me: people who know some of what we’ve been going through who tell me about their friend/sister/aunt/someone-they-saw-on-TV who had trouble too and just had to “stop trying & relax” and they got pregnant. “That’s all you have to do too, just stop trying and relax”. Ugh. I KNOW that happens – but unfortunately, my infertility is NOT going to be fixed by stopping and relaxing.

    Ok, I’m done. Thanks for hearing me out.

  12. To the people who are nieve and tell me, “god only gives you what you can handle”, “you should just adopt,” or my least favorite in refrence to my reaction to being asked if I have kids, “It’s a common question. Why are you getting so upset?” And other ignorant observations.

    I say: Walk a mile in my shoes and then try and tell me what I should and shouldn’t do or how I should or shouldn’t feel. There is a reason it’s so hard to smile and be social. It’s so painful and heartbreaking so often becuase families are all people talk about.

    I just want to scream at these people, “I don’t have kids, can’t have them, want them more than anything. You are rubbing it in my face and making me pretend I’m ok!”

  13. kris Says:

    This is a true whine ’cause I can acknowledge that I’m being a wee bit over sensitive – I’m getting really tired of Facebook ‘guess what, I’m pregnant!’ posts. I just wanna check people’s updates and snoop around their pictures without being reminded what I’m never gonna be able to post – not that I would anyways but that’s another story. I’m gonna leave my more serious and real whine for next week as its too tender right now. Thanks for the chance to get it out!

  14. CiCi Says:

    Speaking of people who ought to say anything sometimes…
    The woman that told me last week, “well you don’t have any kids so you don’t have anything to do” in response to why she asked me to watch her infant son. That same woman today, who’s child I agreed to watch again on my only afternoon off during the week says to me as she’s picking up her child and heading out the door…”do you wanna just watch him every week?” I’m pretty sure that through my eyeballs she felt me smack her across the face. But luckily my mouth said instead, ver kindly, no thank you and reminded her that I work all week and actually do have things in my own life that have to get done.
    Has she gone completely mad?

  15. Heather Armstrong Says:

    as having the question asked to me, why do you just adopt? I think that after the anger, or hurt and pain that questions brings to me, i have been known to say we had thought about it. It’s expensive, not always the best situation if the parent’s try and come back. there are many things that can go wrong with adoption… but what really gets me is when they keep pushing. When they don’t know when to stop getting so personal, and they seem to have all the right answers to how YOU could have a baby!! I want to slap them, sit them down and tell them every heart wrenching thing that I have been through trying to have a baby. I want them to instead of trying to convince me that this would be a good thing, to stop and listen and hear why it’s NOT that easy. How maybe I wanted a baby to look like my husband and I. How I wanted to have people tell me that our child had our eyes, or smile, nose, or laugh. I think it’s great that there are those out there that adopt. But instead of trying to convince me why YOU think I should adopt, mind your own f-ing business and don’t just throw out “the answer ” to how I can still be a mom. whine of the week!

    • Quasi-Momma Says:

      Those types of persistent questions put me on the defensive. You feel like they are thinking that you haven’t tried hard enough ot you’re not really making an effort. It is so frustrating because if they haven’t been there, they don’t know, they just think they do?

    • Maria Says:

      If feel the same way. I never thought about having kids until I met my husband. We love each other so much that we wanted to have each other’s baby. Not just any baby. A couple we used to be friends with have 2 children that their pair of minnie-mes and they love to hear it. They were always bringing up adoption to us and I would just respond, it’s not for us. The wife once made this flippant face that said to me, well I guess you don’t really want children then. I wanted to slap her too. The reality is we did explore adoption, got hurt a few times which reopened some barely healed wounds and eventually we came to the decision that this is not why we started thinking about having children to begin with. We chose to let go of the pain and move on. We shouldn’t have to explain to anybody!

  16. loribeth Says:

    If there’s anything worse than being asked if you’re pregnant & you’re not, it’s being asked if you’re pregnant when you’re infertile & desperately wishing you WERE pregnant. Or just recovering from the loss of a baby (which happened to me). 😦

    My whine is slightly belated & a slight change of topic. We just found out that half the commuter train parking lot where we have parked for the last 21 years is going to be closed for the construction of a new parking garage. We’re going to have to park in another parking garage — which is located at the local mall, across a major 8 lane highway. They have built a new enclosed pedestrian footbridge spanning the highway that connects the mall garage to the train station. We are going to have to get up earlier & readjust our whole morning routine because of this. (The one plus is that I will be getting more exercise hoofing it up & down stairs & across that bridge every morning & every afternoon, lol.)

  17. People who ask questions like that have no shame. If I’d mistakenly asked that, I would have been MORTIFIED when I realized my error. And I would remember to keep my trap shut when the same situation arose again in the future. But these people seem to have some special gene that keeps them from feeling any sense of remorse, and you can bet she’ll be making the same mistake to some other poor unsuspecting woman in the future. Booooo!

  18. Mali Says:

    I’m late to Whiny Wednesday (as always) but just wanted to say “ouch.” Being asked if I’m pregnant when I’m not was one of my biggest fears, especially after infertility. Now though, there’s a certain freedom in being in the waning months (argh) of my 40s – they just take one look at me and know I’m not.

    Also – today, I don’t have anything to whine about. My pain is gone. (Touch wood – or as I think Nth Americans say, “knock on wood”!)

    • Maria Says:

      Hi Mali. It made me feel great this morning to read your words “my pain is gone.” It gives me hope that I will get there too someday. Thank you!

  19. Maria Says:

    Here’s a late whine: People who post their pregnancies AND deliveries on Facebook. For the first time ever I had to block a friend who over the past nine months described in detail all aspects of her third pregnancy as well as the delivery (luckily no photos of the actual delivery!). I could somehow cope with all of that, but what finally got me over the edge were the pictures of the placenta and how she described the process of preparing it for consumption… Too much information!

    You’re right, People should NEVER EVER ask about pregnancies or whether someone has children. When people ask me if I have kids I usually give them a firm “no I don’t”, and amazingly enough, most of the time they leave it at that. Sometimes I say “no I don’t but I have a dog”, which then steers away the discussion.

  20. ootastic Says:

    My default answer when someone asks if I have kids is ¨not for lack of trying¨!

    • Maria Says:

      That’s a good one. I’m going to use that next time I’m asked. Thank you!

      • Kellie Says:

        My husbands standard answer to the question as to whether or not we have kids is that were “still practicing”. It usually catches people off guard and they don’t know what to say.

  21. Janneke Says:

    I had this experience, when unhappy and between first unhappy marriage and second happy marriage. In the midst of five mostly single, and often very fulfiling years. But it was at a miserable time, so often, when we put on those pounds, and I HATED someone asking me if I was pregnant, because it touched on so much emotion. Now I am a reader of this blog who did eventually have one child, yet grieved the other children we could not conceive. I could write such a long list of terrible things people say, including when my husband and I went through miscarriages. I so appreciate the posts here.

  22. […] responding to the April 4th Whiny Wednesday post, a few of us commented on the frustrations of having to deal with the inevitable, “Have you […]

  23. […] This post was originally published on April 4, 2012. […]

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