As you know – or should know by now – are family is a little different. S is Asian. I am white. (And I’m tragically white too. I absolutely fry in the sun. I have no rhythm. I can’t dance.) Little Dude is Ethiopian. Our dog is a rescued pit bull, and need I say anything about the misconception of that breed? I think not.
I’m not quite sure how you can look at the three of us humans together and not figure out that our son does not share our biology. Yet, repeatedly we encounter people who look from me to S to Little Dude to me to S to Little Dude . . . . and then say that they see a resemblance in ________. For some reason these folks are trying too hard. I’m not sure why. It’s just stupid. If you’re my cashier at AC Moore’s, you really don’t have to comment on how my family looks. You can just greet me, ring up my items, tell me how much I owe you, and bid me adieu. You don’t need to stare at us and make yourself look ridiculous.
I’m used to stuff like this from complete strangers, though. People at Giant or the park have a way of saying things that don’t make sense or hurt, and I will never understand that. What I’m not used to, though, is similar statements from people who are not strangers.
Over the weekend I was with some people I don’t know all that well. I was dressed fairly nicely in shorts and a fitted tank top. I had run a combination of 30 miles in about 28 hours, and hadn’t taken in enough calories or water to replenish what I spent. My weight was down a pound or two because of this, though this difference wouldn’t be visible to anyone other than me.
I was mingling with people when a woman looked at me and said, “So are you . . . ?” She didn’t say the word, but she made the motion of a very big pregnant belly. Shocked, I said no. I guess she thought I didn’t understand her, because she repeated the entire sequence, this time with a very animated face. Again, I was dumbfounded. My son was standing right beside me, so I said to her, “I didn’t even give birth to him, so, um, no.” I didn’t have a good response in my back pocket, so that’s what I came up with. Her response was, “OK. But you are trying, right?”
What. The. Huh?
I told her, quickly and quietly, “No, because I can’t.” I then walked away.
First, did I look especially big this weekend? Do I look like I am several months with child? Because you really shouldn’t ask a woman if she’s pregnant if she doesn’t look damned near close to dropping that child on your kitchen floor if she sneezes. I might have 2 pounds around my belly that could go, and I might have some body image issues, but I know for a fact that I do not look like I have a bun in the oven. So strike 1.
Second, let’s look at my family composition again. White mama and Asian daddy does not equal African child. There is pretty much no recessive gene that is going to make that happen. This person knows enough about our family to know how Little Dude came to our family. I’m not sure how it seemed appropriate to delve into my reproductive system right then and there. How does one look at a couple in their mid and late 30’s who have only one (adopted) child and think that they might not have had fertility issues? How could that fact not cross their mind? Again, this is not someone who we encountered for only 2 minutes. This is someone who knows how Little Dude came to our family. Strike 2.
Finally, one should never, ever badger a woman (or a man, for that matter) about whether they are having babies. It just shouldn’t be done unless you have a good rapport with that person. Even then, be careful about the words you use. Don’t assume they want kids. Don’t assume they can have kids. Don’t assume that they haven’t been through an emotional roller coaster. Don’t assume that your question won’t upset them. Strike 3.
I know it seems like an innocent enough question, but so many people struggle to have children. If you aren’t one of those people, count your lucky stars. I know so many women – so many – who have had miscarriages. I know so many couples who have tried for months or years to conceive naturally and couldn’t. I know so many couples who tried fertility medications and assisted fertility procedures and experienced terrible heartache. I know couples who have spent all of their own money trying to conceive or to adopt, and have incurred significant debt. I know people who have completely given up on becoming parents because they didn’t have enough money to try IVF or adoption.
Oh – and my other favorite comment was made within the same hour. Another person looked at me and said, “You know, Little Dude would really like a little brother or sister!” My comment, which has never been said aloud, is “I know. Would you like to give me the $20K+ I need to make that happen?” (Speaking this statement aloud is totally on my bucket list, by the way.)
I honestly thought that all of this stuff would stop after we brought our first child into our family. I figured people would be able to look at my family and draw some reasonable conclusions about what led us to form our family in such a way. I guess I was wrong. S tells me I’m just going to have to suck it up and deal with this. He says that people think we were “just being nice” when we adopted Little Dude. “Just being nice.” Let’s not even talk about that one. I feel like I ought to be able to fix people, and get them to think a little. I know I’m nuts, but I just wish.