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LJI:17 scare quotes
“So he’s screaming and there’s blood on his face, but he won’t let me get close enough to see where the blood is coming from.   I hold Todd until he calms down.  Finally he lets me check his face and I can see he gave himself a bloody nose when he fell off the swing.  Of course, now we look like refugees from a zombie attack when we go pick up Tracy from kindergarten.”  Everyone laughs, and Cindy takes a large drink from her cocktail.

Kitty starts a story about the twins’ latest babysitter fiasco while refilling her wine glass and I sit back.  I have known these women since middle school, and love that we have managed to not only stay in touch but still have a monthly lunch.  But as the only one without kids I occasionally zone out when the conversation swings to the mommy zone.  I learned a long time ago that my experiences baby-sitting my nieces and nephews just aren’t the same.  A burst of groans signals the end of Kitty’s story.

“Well, I have big news to share,” says Lisa.  “I’m pregnant, again.”

“I knew it!  I knew there was a reason you ordered a Shirley Temple!” said Crystal.

“How far along are you?” asked Denise.

“Congratulations, lady,” I said leaning in to give her a one armed hug.  Lisa beamed.

“So you lovely friends of mine, the second one is easier, right?”

The whole table hooted with laughter.  “The second one is different,” said Cindy “and you have more experience so everything isn’t brand new.”

“Right but some things will still be brand new, and this time you get to start sleep deprived,” said Denise.  “And your adorable Eva will be there, still needing help.  A second child isn’t just adding one, it’s more like multiplication.”

“Trust me, two kids make about six times the mess,” said Kitty.

“And have about a zillion times the stuff,” said Crystal.  “Who knew clothes that small could take up so much space?”

“Well, we’re hoping to reuse a lot of Eva’s things.  But, will the pregnancy be easier the second time?” asked Lisa.

“Sadly, I think we are programmed to forget all the hard parts after the baby is born, so we’ll be willing to do it again,” said Cindy.

“Right now I just wish it wasn’t called morning sickness. I end up feeling bad when I get sick in the afternoon, like I’m doing it wrong,” said Lisa.

“Mostly it’ll be the same, except this time you’ll have an idea of what’s coming. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse,” said Denise with a gentle smile.  “Ladies - a toast to the new mom!”

We all raised our glasses and clinked with a round of “Here, heres”.  Cindy peered at me over her mojito and said, “So, Sarah, do you have any news, maybe of a similar nature? The wedding was 18 months ago.”

“Actually, Nathan and I have talked about it, and we’ve decided we’re not going to try for children.”

The whole table sat in stunned silence.  “But why wouldn’t you want to have kids?” asked Kitty.

I looked around the table at my wonderful, strong female friends, who shared their mommy horror stories every month, and tried to formulate an answer that wouldn’t offend.

***Here's my take on "scare quotes" for this week in LJ Idol.  This is fictional non-fiction, with bits of a lot of different conversations all compressed into one."***

Oh, lord. Why do women who decide NOT to have children have to justify their choice? Sometimes people just don't want 'em!

I almost wish the narrator would construct a response that would offend -- because otherwise she'll get bingo'd relentlessly. =/

It does amuse me how completely it seems to be assumed that every woman wants children, and certainly after she's married. My friends have been good about this, I've rarely had to do the explanation more than once per person, though there are some folks who won't take no for an answer.

Nice compression of various convos into this piece! It works well!

Thank you! I have always found it amusing that people tell me horror stories about their kids followed by when are you going to have them?

Like, do you not hear yourself?

Loved the conversation ... so typical among excited lady friends .... where one asks a specific question and someone answers something else and then they jump to a third topic all together and then go back to answering the first question... Love how u captured this ..... and I am looking forward to how Sarah responds to the questioning of her choice ... not that she has to ... but just curious :)

Thank you. I actually pulled out six little figurines to make sure that the conversation was spread out and to figure out where folks were sitting, I was afraid it would be confusing so I'm glad you followed it.

As Sarah is based on me, my polite answer these days is "I'm already older and don't want to start now, my hubby has never really wanted kids of his own, and we have lots of nieces and nephews to love (which means there are grandkids for our parents)". It can certainly get more irreverent from there.

We all have our 'war stories,' but regular kids have never seemed like the quantity of work or chaos these women here describe.

Though if that's what they usually go on about, who wouldn't come away with mostly a negative impression?

If you have and want children, it's hard to understand why anyone else wouldn't want them. But it's important to remember that some people do not-- and accept that. Simply not wanting to is all the reason they need.

I've asked, in my younger days, overly personal questions. Brought back memories.

I take my mom's approach: she used to put me in a room with my aunts who she knew would ask the personal questions and then just listen in. I've learned which friends of mine are going to break out with questions and try to be a fly on their wall.

I enjoyed this, thanks.

Thank you. I hope your kids are not truly always this story-generating, but hey, you'll have an amazing memoir someday.

Good job with the conversations, and that's definitely a tough question to answer!

Thank you! Heh - you really do have the perfect icon for everything don't you?

Luckily I don't get that question very often, but it's always a trick to figure out what to say.

Great work with the dialogue here!

Thank you so much, this much dialog made me a little nervous honestly. I'm glad it worked for you.

Ha! Quite relate-able..you captured it really well..Good Job!

Thank you! I enjoy the stories of moms I know once they've had a few cocktails, they're always fascinating.

It just floors me that anyone would bring this topic up with you in a large crowd.

I mean, it is an interesting topic for discussion. But a one-on-one discussion.

I'm very happy we live in a time and place where women can choose whether to be mothers or not.

Luckily, this hasn't specifically happened to me, but I have a few friends without much of a filter so I've certainly answered this question more publicly than I ever intended.

And I really don't mind answering, if it's asked well and thoughtfully. I'm grateful for the options I have.

Yes. This is my experience of being 30 and childless and working in my office. I eventually said, "You all have convinced me NOT to have children."

Right? I get that the horror stories are the most fun to tell (trust me when theater folk get together to tell stories you'd assume no show ever goes well, ever) but they don't inspire confidence, or a desire to follow.

As someone who has a kid (and very much wanted and planned for him), I'm completely baffled by how anyone could ask why someone wouldn't want to have kids. How about because it's a lot of work and you're handing over most of your life to a tiny little person who doesn't really care if you sleep or eat or get to do anything fun that doesn't involve him (or her)?

Like that's not reason enough!

Indeed! I understand people asking the question, but I don't think most folks want a deeply serious thought out answer, it's just conversation. So "I like sleeping in on the weekends" is as valid as I'm old enough that if I started now it'd be a 'geriatric' pregnancy (and there are some scare quotes for you).

I remember those days.... Sigh. It's nobody's damn business.


It's really not, but somehow it's still a standard question, especially given that I just got married last fall.
*hugs* back

This ended right as things were about to get *really* interesting. (Although it did the trick.)

Do people really get like this? I don't think kids are going to be in the picture for me, and I don't remember anyone ever asking me or bothering me about it ... Though, I'm a bachelor and most of my friends are a few years younger than me and single, I don't hang around a lot of parents.

I think to keep going with these women would have been another 500 words, and that felt like too much.

I've certainly been asked that question, in less obnoxious ways than in this piece, many times. Most of my friends are married and almost all of them have roughly preschool aged kids, so I think it's partially about what they have now gotten so used to. One of my friends said to me just this past weekend that they can't imagine what people without kids do with their time.

Lol, oh dear. Right after all the horror stories, too. ;)

That's what makes me laugh, that's almost always how it works. I get told some story about little Timmy waking up in the middle of the night vomiting and then because they're thinking about kids I get asked the question. It's not the best timing, but I don't think parents realize that.