I am by no means a private person. In fact, most would say I’m a pretty open book. Talking is one of my favorite past times, and I enjoy sharing my life with others and hearing about theirs in return. However, this openness does not grant everyone an open invitation to ask me any personal question they desire and expect an answer. This is especially true in pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong. I am all about strangers rubbing my belly and asking how far along I am, but at what point do these questions cross the line?
As I’ve journeyed through motherhood, I have been truly astounded by the very personal questions other women have felt the need to ask me. When my daughter turned about 6 months old, my husband and I could hardly escape the onslaught of “When is the second one coming?” questions we received from friends and strangers alike with no regard to where we might be in our pregnancy journey. Then, when my husband and I surprisingly found ourselves pregnant with our second child just 9 months after giving birth to our daughter, we were appalled at the questions people had in response. “Were you trying?” “Did you want another?””Did you mean to be pregnant?” These are all very real (and frankly, rude) questions I have been asked by numerous people upon hearing the news of my pregnancy. I am certain they come from the most innocent of intentions, but that’s really no excuse. No, for your information, my husband were not trying for a second at this time, thank you very much, but we are nonetheless excited and can’t wait to meet our son. But more importantly, why does that matter to you, stranger in the grocery checkout line, and how is it your business? Does my answer take away the love we have for this new child? If it was unplanned, does that make it the short age gap more justifiable to you? Honestly, I cannot even begin to understand the purpose of these questions or why anyone would ever feel the need to ask them.
Given my willingness to share, I originally blamed myself for allowing others to feel welcome to ask me questions about my private life that may be painful or quite frankly, none of their business. But after talking with friends, I discovered this is actually extremely common. From questions about fertility treatments to how long they tried to get pregnant, there are seemingly no boundaries to what women have asked each other without regard. When and why did we become so insensitive to the feelings of others? Since when did asking others to share very intimate family details become our prerogative?
As someone who did not have an easy journey into motherhood, I take offense. I truly understand and believe in the comfort and support one can experience when sharing their experiences with others. I believe that as women it is SO very important for us to remind one another that we are not alone. I know everyone has a story and everyone has had a struggle, and there is absolutely no shame in that. But I also firmly believe it is up to each woman to share their struggles and experiences in their own time. As fellow women, our job is not to seek out the private details of each other’s lives. Instead of seeking out the intimate details of one another’s lives, let’s strive to be ready with open ears and hearts should someone choose to share them with you.