Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Maybe Baby, Maybe Not: Elusive “Congratulations” September 6, 2012

By Maybe Lady Liz

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to the Orange County fair, and he became unaccountably obsessed with the idea of adopting a pygmy goat. For those of you who haven’t seen one, it’s arguably the cutest animal on the planet. But, well – it’s a goat. And we live in a small condo in Southern California. None the less, it became an amusing topic of conversation between us and his sister who was along for the ride.

As a joke, she sent us a photo of goat’s milk on Facebook and I commented that she shouldn’t give my husband any more encouragement with regards to our “little girl” because he’d decided he wanted it to be a girl. Someone who didn’t look closely at the photo and doesn’t know us all that well misinterpreted the conversation and commented, “Drew is having a baby?!” It was immediately “liked” and commented on by several people, and I got my very first (albeit false) taste of the accolades heaped on those who are expecting a child.

I got to feel what it’s like for people to be genuinely excited about something you’ve done, and be really, really happy for you. It felt…amazing! For a couple of seconds. Until I remembered this was all based on a misunderstanding. But I was really struck by how it gave me such a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that people would be so over the moon if we had a kid. I know it’s downright silly, but hey – we can’t always control our feelings.

I also know that getting pregnant isn’t the only thing you can do where people will express their congratulations and excitement. But it sure does seem to be the one thing that generates the MOST excitement and the MOST accolades. I feel like if I ever finish my book (which I think may actually wind up being more painful than labor) and sold it to some fabulous publisher, that status update wouldn’t garner even half the likes of one saying “I’m pregnant!”, despite the fact that anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been writing for years and would die of happiness if I ever published a book.

Some may dismiss this all as silly Facebook politicking. And on some level, it is. But it’s also a microcosm for how society really feels about things. If baby announcements are the things that excite you most on Facebook, they’re probably the things that excite you most in real life. Calling to tell my mom I was pregnant would likely result in a burst of (happy) tears, while delivering some news about a promotion at work or buying our first house would probably earn me a heartfelt, but decidedly less emotional, congrats. Not because my mom is desperate to become a grandmother or doesn’t care about my career, but because babies generate more emotions. They just do.

Some others would question why I care so much about whether people are happy for me, and would encourage me to pursue my non-baby-related goals for my own personal satisfaction. That’s all well and good, and of course, that’s the route I’ll go. I just sort of wish I hadn’t gotten a taste of what it felt like to be on the other side.

Maybe Lady Liz is blogging her way through the decision of whether to create her own Cheerio-encrusted ankle-biters, or remain Childfree. You can follow her through the ups and downs at MaybeBabyMaybeNot.com.

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4 Responses to “Maybe Baby, Maybe Not: Elusive “Congratulations””

  1. Wolfers Says:

    I must ‘fess, there was a rare moment or two when I was *tempted* to say something that’d lead folks to presume me pregnant, so I’d get a taste of what it’d be like- to see what was on the other side of the fence. I didn’t do it because I knew it’d hurt me even more later, but like you said, “I just sort of wish I hadn’t gotten a taste of what it felt like to be on the other side….” I did announce to family about getting my counseling license/promotion, and all I got “that’s great,” in less emotional response as you described. Ah well.
    Thanks for sharing- I had seen photos and videos of pgymy goats and they are ADORABLE!!!! I was tempted to get one two years ago when I was at a state fair, this little ‘oreo-sandwich-colored’ baby goat. I kept returning to look at the goat, and was this *close* to buy one. I didn’t- 🙂 NO way to keep one in an apartment! lol

  2. S Says:

    I know the feeling. I recently posted some exciting career news on FB and enjoyed the attention. I thought, “finally, my chance to shine.” Of course life moves on and people are left to their own children, and I am left to my business, which is fine. But what irks me is the people in my family and close friends who haven’t so much as said “congrats”. I KNOW these people would be doing/saying all sorts of lovely things IF my news involved a baby. But since it’s not a baby – who cares.

    It bugs me and it shouldn’t. Also, I shouldn’t be paying so close attention to who compliments and who doesn’t. But I do I guess. People who refuse to extend “congrats” even when they conveniently could – well, they aren’t people I should care about. But when I’ve gone out of my way to be good to them I’m surprise to not receive it in return. How many of their childrens birthday parties, baptisms, visits to the maternity ward do I have to endure before they think about the big moments of my life.

    I’m working on a large project (which now that I think about it – will take about nine months to complete) and will have a celebration at the end of it. Maybe I’m not being fair or realistic but it will bug me greatly if certain people don’t attend or make a little bit of fuss over me.

    I know I’m being silly and shallow for caring so much about these few absences in my life. But it does stink to realize that unless you produce a child – certain people have no interest.

  3. Heather Says:

    I will have to admit, I have fantasized many times about having a baby announcement. For many years I kept hoping that I would get to do a Christmas announcement, but that’s the past and I know there isn’t one. You do make a good point that face book posts about baby announcements get more responses than any other life changing announcement/updates. I wonder why that is? I will admit to liking and commenting congrats on baby announcements just because I didn’t want the person to recognize that I didn’t comment. Maybe that has something to do with it? It is a response from people that is expected in our society now?


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