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Late Night: On How We Need To Get Off Each Other’s Cases

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I’ve written often, during my unsuccessful attempts to have a baby, about the pressure women feel to become mothers, but what I’ve learned from friends who do have children is that the bullshit doesn’t end when you’ve finally given birth. Okay, you think, I’ve produced the heir or heiress to the throne, I’m done getting grilled at parties by my great-aunts about the contents of my uterus, right?

Oh, hell no.

What we needed was a healthy baby.

When we learned our second bundle would be a boy, I admit I was silently relieved. “This I can do,” I thought. “I know boys.”

Yet strangers – and some people close to us – had a much different reaction.

“Another boy (insert shock/ pity/ confusion here)?! So, when will you go for a third?”

“You/ your husband must want/ need a girl.”

“But you have to have a girl!”

Some days, it was all I could do to not let loose on someone. We “have to have” a girl? Our family won’t be “complete” without a girl? “Clearly,” I thought, “you people need to work on your priorities.” And, by the way, are you planning to help us with the three kids you are convinced we need??

Right? I’ve come to understand that the people who are overwhelmingly anxious that you breed are a) usually the people whose own children act like monkeys on acid all time, like way to be a recruiting poster there, or b) live hundreds of miles away from you and really just want to cuddle a baby at Christmas and then hand it back to you when it starts screaming.

(I’ve often considered a rental service for women of childbearing age, so that we can present the adorable offspring at the appropriate time so as to placate the family, without having to deal with kidlets when the family isn’t around.)

I will never understand why we have to be so judgy about this shit. If you have one child oh, what a tragedy, breedbreedbreed for the Reich. Make like the Duggars and people call your vagina a clown car. Part of supporting reproductive rights is supporting the idea that nobody gets to tell anybody else how or when to have children, a point which is lost on these busybodies.

They want you to have a baby, and then, when you DO have a baby, they want you to have more babies, or different babies, or something. If you have girls, what about a brother for them? If you have boys, why don’t you give them a baby sister, like another human being is a live doll for them to dress up. A friend with two boys who stated she wasn’t interested in trying for a girl was then accused of “not wanting the perfect family.”

She’s much nicer than I am, so she didn’t respond, “Where exactly do you get off saying my family isn’t perfect ALREADY? By the way, your spawn is over there at the buffet filling your hat with bean dip, so let’s hope the Gifted and Talented Program has a money-back guarantee.”


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Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel is a 10-year veteran of the newspaper business. She publishes First Draft, a writing and politics blog, with her partners Holden, Jude and Scout. She is the author of the books Chicago's Historic Irish Pubs (2011, Arcadia Publishing, with Mike Danahey) and It Doesn’t End With Us: The Story of the Daily Cardinal, about a great liberal journalism institution (2007, Heritage Books). She also edited the anthology “Special Plans: The Blogs on Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence That Led to War” (2005, William, James & Co.) Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Daily Southtown, Sirens Magazine, and Alternet. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two ferrets, and approximately 60 tons of books.