I have four children. The “second child” is twins, and I have a daughter who was born after they were. The three older ones are boys. This is an unusual pattern in our society today. You see lots of parents who have just twins, or parents who have an older child, and twins after, but that’s where it ends. You also see plenty of two- and three-child households. Four, in any configuration, is less common (never mind people who have more than that).
I am an only child, for a multitude of reasons. Growing up, I
hated it. I’ve ranted about that before, so I’ll spare you a repeat, but I will
say I know far more only children who agree with me than who enjoyed being an
only. But that’s a debate for another time. Because of that, I wanted multiple
children, which I clearly had. What I find interesting about having four
children, some of them twins, is the kinds of things people say to me. I don’t
know what makes them think that because we’ve exchanged first names, or
sometimes just eye contact, it’s assumed I will welcome their questions or comments
on my family circumstances, but evidently some people have fewer boundaries than
Here are some things people feel free to ask me or tell me
when they learn about my four children, and their genders.
“Finally got your girl, I see.”
Actually fuckwit, I wasn’t “trying” for a girl. I was having
a fourth child, and it happened to be a girl. As a matter of fact, given
history, I was pretty confident I was having a fourth boy, and I was totally fine with that. My husband
was one of two boys. His father was one of two boys. His uncle (my father in
law’s brother) had two boys. My husband’s paternal grandfather had a sister,
but he was one of something like seven, so the odds were significantly greater
that there would be a girl, but the
rest were boys. Boys are kind of a thing in my husband’s family. I have a picture
taken at a family wedding of all the women in my husband’s family, and there is
one woman in it who carried the last
name by birth. The rest all married it.
Also? Just because you have a girl doesn’t mean it’s going
to be a nonstop festival of My Little Pony, Barbie, and pink glitter all day
every day. I’ll admit, I loved the idea of buying that stuff for my daughter,
but from a very early age she has scorned dolls, dresses, and anything pink.
She has three big brothers. She wants to be like them. She wants to play roller
hockey next Spring, and she will. She’s emphatically her own person, and that
person has nothing to do with Polly Pocket or Hello Kitty. I can’t tell you how
much I admire her. In fact, I have said when I grow up, I want to be my
daughter because she knows her own mind, she is unapologetically herself, and
fuck what anyone thinks.
“Was she an accident?”
This one actually makes me lividly angry, but I manage not
to say what I’m thinking which is, “Why? Were you?” It’s not any of anyone’s
business, but I will say here she was not. When my twins were about six or
eight months old, I felt like someone was missing from our family. I didn’t
know who—I just knew we needed another child. So we had another child.
I’ve had this conversation with friends who are debating
having another baby, and I tell them, “If you don’t feel like you’re ‘done,’
you may not be done.” It’s a gut feeling, and one that may not be shared by
your spouse. Fortunately in my case, my husband had no fear of four children
versus three, so I was able to indulge my gut. Not all women are as successful;
I know marriages end over this issue. That’s why I will discuss my daughter’s conception
here. If it helps someone to gain some understanding and insight, then it’s worth
As a kid I used to say I wanted six children (watched a lot
of Brady Bunch, y’all), but when I actually had four, I was good. I love that
we’re six, because we’re three and three, or two, two, and two. We take up exactly
a full car at Disneyland on any ride. We’re four boys and two girls. We divide
up nicely in any of a number of ways.
“Did you have twins
because you used fertility drugs?”
How about you tell me about all the medical procedures you’ve
undergone in your lifetime, including the personal and embarrassing ones, and I’ll
answer that question. I’m especially interested in the details of your last
colonoscopy, or pap smear.
Here’s a fact my obstetrician presented me with—if you’re
over 35 and you’ve already had one baby, you are four times more likely to
conceive twins. You can draw whatever conclusion you like from that information.
“They know what
causes that, you know.”
Another one that makes me want to kick the person who delivers
it in the stomach. My reflex response (which I haven’t said aloud…YET) is, “What
a pity your mom didn’t learn the
secret in time.” That may sound rude, but the implied sentiment is that four is
too many children. Fuck you—I’ll have as many children as I want, and you get
no say in what that number is. This comment usually comes from men a generation
older than I am who think they’re being funny. They are not.
“Are you done?”
Since you’re not the other half of the team creating these
children, that’s actually none of your goddamned business. I usually respond to
this with something coy like, “For the time being,” or “I’ll let you know when I
am.” Nosy assholes.
“Are you Catholic?”
Are you serious?
“I don’t know how you
To be clear, this doesn’t bother me at all. It’s just
something people say. Honestly, I don’t know how I do it either. I just do it. I
should say how we do it, because my
husband is a full partner in this lunacy. Some days I feel like I’m doing a
better job than others. There are days I’m convinced I need to learn more about
the penal system in this country, in case I need to figure out what one is or
is not allowed to bring to prisoners on visiting days. Other days I feel like I
should think about what I’ll wear to the Nobel Prize award ceremony (pastels or
But what I tell people is, “One day I’m going to figure that
out, and then I’m going to write a book. When that happens, you have to promise
me you’ll buy a copy so I can spend my retirement living in the style to which I
would like to become accustomed.”
Please promise me you’ll buy one too?