It’s a common gripe among mothers of onlies: the inquisitions from usually well-meaning if not on occasion insensitive family, friends and especially strangers about when the next one is due.
Like any “advice,” these conversations only bug me when there’s a hint of criticism that somehow my decision is wrong. And it’s not the put-down that bugs me, but the fact that this person believes it is her place to cast an opinion on my personal life.
But recently I’ve been noticing that really the ones who do bring up the issue of a second child for our family are Chinese – friends who not long ago immigrated from China, a fellow mother on the playground, an administrator at my son’s school, my aunt. In particular, the one person who brings this topic up the most is a new and dear friend of mine, Mei. She tells me, “I never dreamt I would leave China, go to a foreign country someday. But when my husband got his student visa to America, the first thing he said was, ‘We will have another child.'” And she looks over at her son. “Jack is so lucky. If we couldn’t come to America, Jack wouldn’t be here today.” Her second child, her American dream. He, and not I, is so lucky, are the words she has chosen. Lucky to be here, lucky to have life.
I listen to Mei with my heart wide open, sharing my tears for both her baby and the one we chose not to have.