As the mom of two children I'm lucky, because my family looks the way people assume families look so I don't have to justify my reproductive choices at every turn. People see me as having a kind of ideal — older boy, younger girl, mother-father unit. We could be the model family for posters in banks or pamphlets in doctors' offices, and I've ticked a whole bunch of boxes that protect me from some of the more obnoxious things people say to other families. Still, there are things people say to moms of two that are problematic, and even I'm not entirely immune.
The weird, problematic comments I get are few and far between, thankfully, but every now and then an odd comment will creep into an otherwise harmless conversation that just gives me pause and makes me tip my head curiously to one side. Like, "Why are you like this? What are you doing? Who even are you?"
Some of these things (many, in fact) are not unique to moms of two, but most of them start when you have a family with two kids. I imagine some of the following comments can get worse the more children you have. In fact, I'm one of five children myself so I know things could be worse. But that doesn't make the following comments OK, though. No matter how many children you choose to have, no one has the right to judge your reproductive choices by saying any of the following:
"A Boy & A Girl: Perfect!"
So, on the one hand, I get this. It's like, "Oh, now you know what it's like to raise a boy and a girl!" And I feel like that's not a horribly sexist or problematic thing to delight in or want. And as the mother of a boy and a girl, I'll admit it's nice getting a range of different parenting experiences.
At the same time, people can get really weird about it. Like, a little too into it, you know? Like this is the only way to have a "complete" family. Also it runs the risk of playing into the weird idea that gender is binary and static and guaranteed based upon a child's genitals, to say nothing of assuming that how you go about raising a boy and a girl is, like, wildly different (honestly, it's really not).
"You Have To Try For A Boy/Girl!"
First of all, that's not a thing you have control over in the typical course of baby-making. It's like my son's teacher says: "You get what you get and you don't get upset." "Trying" indicates some actual effort is taking place and there is none when you "try" for a child of another gender — you're just deciding to roll the dice again. And, hey, if you want another kid regardless that's cool, but the idea that you have to keep having babies until you "collect the entire set" is just ridiculous.
"So No More, Right?"
A lot of people believe two is the perfect number of children. It's the perfect number of children for me, it turns out, but acting like that's some sort of universal rule is creepy and weird, especially if this is an unsolicited declaration. Seriously, other people's reproductive choices are precisely zero percent your business.
"Are You *Sure* You Don't Want Another?"
One more time for the people in the back: Do. Not. Try. To. Tell. People. Their. Reproductive. Business. Because. You. Will. Fail.
If they have another baby you'll find out eventually.
Anything About Overpopulation
Look, I'm not saying it's a discussion that's not worth having, or that being conscientious of how many people we're bringing into the world is a concern without merit or anything. But it's sort of pointless to have it after someone has already had children. You can't send them back, people. The universe is stuck with them for a while, so you're just going to have to deal.
Get Too Concerned About Their Age Gap
People get into some weird sibling-age calculus and I just don't get it. Was anyone's life made miserable because they didn't have a brother or sister precisely 29 months older or younger? (Or whatever age gap you've personally established as ideal.) It's fine, you guys. The range between my siblings and me runs anywhere from three to 11 years and we all have our own unique relationships. There are pros and cons to being closer in age and further apart for everyone in the family. This is so not a big deal.
"Two Girls? That's Going To Get Ugly!"
Hahahahaha! Yeah! Because women are just so catty and awful we always fight and undermine each other! Hahaha!
I really love (read: loath with every fiber of my being) how people tsk tsk and shake their heads at how women "just can't get along" all while feeding girls this kind of crap from the time they're born. Maybe if you didn't tell women and girls that we're all out to get each other we wouldn't be so apt to be uneasy in our interpersonal relationships? Maybe? Just a little?
"Two Boys? That's Going To Get Rowdy!"
Newsflash, folks: two children of any gender are going to get rowdy. Because they're children.
Look, I'm sure a house with two little boys is going to be a damn whirlwind. That's fine, but can we seriously just calm down a teensy bit with the gendered stereotypes and assumptions?
The Idea That Brothers Exist To "Protect" Sisters
I have no problem with the idea that siblings have to watch out for each other because standing up for your loved ones is what family is all about. But I just find it unsettling when it's not a two-way street. It's not a mutual sign of sibling love, it's a gendered expectation of behavior. Boys are taught they have ownership/responsibility over female bodies and girls are taught that they're supposed to be passive because, don't worry, a man/boy is going to handle it.
Just teach them to love each other, guys. No need to make this weird.
"You've Got Your Hands Full"
Honestly, I don't mind this one, but other people find it really, really annoying so I feel like we can just avoid it all together and everyone will be happier.
"You Need A Dog!"
This isn't problematic but I really need people to stop saying it and this seemed like a good place to make the plea.
My family is great, guys. I don't need a dog. Please stop. I know it would make my little picture perfect family even more picture perfect, but I don't like pet dander and my children don't need any encouragement.