A few days ago, I posted on Facebook Jessica Grose’s new piece in The New Republic, “The Case for One”, about women having one child. This passage, which references journalist Lauren Sandler’s new book about the same, hit close to home:
For secular parents—especially secular women—having more than one child can throw a major wrench in personal satisfaction and ambition. Kudos to Sandler for discussing this honestly: “For rich women and poor women alike,” she writes, “the more children a woman has, the less likely she is to maintain her employment, and consequently, her independence.” She quotes the author Ann Crittenden, who has written about how the second baby is often the “final straw” in halting a woman’s career.
I noted in my post that I’d have a copy of Sandler’s book handy for everyone who demands to know whether my husband and I plan to have another child and doesn’t like the answer when they get it. In response to the post, more than one person asked me, incredulous, if people really did that. They couldn’t possibly, could they?
Yes, they could. And they do.
I’ve pointed out previously that a co-worker at a former job loved to bug me about baby No. 2 before the paint was even dry on baby No. 1. I once had to educate a male colleague about not ever going There, as he was a quarter-mile down the road to There without a working GPS, because he could be talking to someone who cannot have any more children.
And today, less than a week after posting, I got it from a cop in the middle of a traffic stop.
A few seconds after making a right turn in Chinatown, three FBI police officers (yes, that’s actually a thing) pulled me over. Setting aside that this seems like an excessive number of G-Men to take down someone for making an improper turn (allegedly, inconclusively, whatever, I didn’t see the sign and half of them are in Chinese anyway), it’s what happened next that was more notable.
While waiting in the rain for two of the officers to run my name through Interpol, the third started chatting up my daughter in her carseat, through the back window of the car. Specifically, by asking her if she had any sisters or brothers. When she said no, he began pestering her about the need for her to get one. Then he leaned into the car, rainwater from his I-swear-I’m-not-a-Fed-undercover-baseball-cap dripping all over the car, and informed me that it’s better for kids to have siblings. “I’ve got six children,” he closed, “I’m blessed.”
My brain at this point: “Well, I’ve got one, which is apparently why I’m not blessed and am now stalled in the middle of Chinatown about to miss the movie I was going to take my sad, lonely, single child to so we could hopefully both forget for 75 minutes that her parents are ruining her life. But hey, it’s been fun having you literally overreach into my car to give me advice about how many babies I should have. Also, I’m really going to enjoy having multiple conversations with my daughter today in which she asks why she doesn’t have a brother or sister.”
My actual words at this point: “That’s nice.”
People couldn’t possibly do that, could they? Yes, they do. All the time.