I’m a lot like Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail. We both like books and Starbucks. And we both tend to become a bit tongue-tied when provoked.
I like to consider myself good with words, but writing is different. Writing allows me time to contemplate, to choose my words wisely, to revise and edit if needed. In the heat of the moment, when confronted with someone who angers me, I tend to be at a loss for words. Later, like Meg Ryan’s character, I will agonize over all the things I could have said, and didn’t.
An example - I need to find a reply for those people who verbalize their opinion that I really should have another child.
Truthfully, I had always thought I’d mother two children. I wanted my children to be each other’s playmates, to be each other’s friends, supporters, confidants. Now, thinking about my own relationship with my siblings, I realize that having siblings is no guarantee those close relationships will develop.
Within the first year of Ryan’s life, I knew I wouldn’t have another child. I knew our current lifestyle, including my job as a public school teacher, left me exhausted and I couldn’t be the kind of mother I’d want to be to two children. I also knew that my marriage wouldn’t survive a second child. Having a baby was a big change to my marital relationship and while there were times that I never felt closer to my husband, there were other times when I had never felt further away.
And, for two years now, I’ve been on this medical odyssey that has resulted in an autoimmune disease diagnosis. A disease that requires me to be on multiple medications, all strictly prohibiting pregnancy.
I’m blessed with a happy, healthy son. Ryan is my joy, and I am proud to be the mother of an only child.
Recently, Ryan and I were shopping at Ralphs. In the checkout lane, the cashier asked if he was my first child. “Yes.” She asked if I was having any more children. “No.” She said I should, that Ryan needs a little sister.
I looked at her with my teacher look. I wasn’t sure how to respond without making a scene, and without having to answer Ryan’s questions about why Mommy was upset.
I do not know this woman except that she is an employee at my local supermarket. I was speechless that someone I didn’t know would be that bold, that brazen with what she felt I should do.
I don’t want to, and I can’t. And, let’s not forget that getting pregnant does not guarantee that Ryan would have a little sister. It’s just as possible he’d have a little brother, instead.
I didn’t answer this woman. I was tongue-tied, and I really need to come up with a good comeback for the next time I’m in this situation. Because, I’m sure there will be a next time. More and more, it seems that people are losing their sense of tact, decency, and manners.
Because we were married for nine years before Ryan was born, I dealt with the question of “When are you having a baby?” for years. Now, the question has become, “When are you having another?” After I say “I’m not,” most people will stop asking. Most, not all. And next time, I’ve got to have an answer on file.