14 October 2009

Random inflammatory thoughts on the perplexing prevalence of TMI

Rebekah’s last post reminded me of something I’ve had occasion to ponder:

Great icebreaker: Joking about being out of the baby business, two being enough birth control for me, etc.—the more vehement, the funnier.

vs.

Instant conversational freeze: Declaring, however gently (even nonverbally), an openness to an unknown, “unplanned” quantity of children.

I have a few quarter-baked thoughts on the topic of TMI. Just a couple of crackpot theories, people. Consider the source, remember your blood pressure, and try not to get unduly exercised. :)

1) Overmuch protesting? Most larger families I know are simply living their lives. They don’t feel compelled to issue public statements on private matters.

2) Less action, hence more talk. (<:-O!) 3) Oblique natural law? Perhaps there’s some instinctive connection here: once marital integrity has been breached,* once a wall of the temple has been compromised, sacred things become vulnerable, exposed, common. . .

*Just in case our standard disclaimer hasn’t been issued lately: Of course I’m not referring here to those who have grappled earnestly, and reached a place other than standard-issue CSPP. (Recall that your humble blogresses generally consider themselves to be temporarily avowed, and on good days at that.) I don’t think the folks who have sincerely struggled with their decision to avoid conception are the ones who think that oneself or one’s spouse should be discussed with vocabulary that could also refer to the family dog’s inability to have young. In fact, the people who so proudly announce not only their Doneness but the precise mechanisms thereof are probably not aware that they may be causing pain to people whose decisions are not so lightly made. (To say nothing of the even deeper pain that such hilarity may cause women who’d give anything to have just a few years of the fertility that is so wantonly destroyed.)

14 comments:

Rebekah said...

I have an exactly quarter-baked reaction.

I don't like having to explain myself. But I have to. People think they have some right to ask why I'm always pregnant, how many we want, when we'll be Done (since obviously everyone decides that sooner or later), and don't we "use" ANYTHING??

I really, really hate how the normalization of contraception forces everyone's hand, especially when I think how my friends to whom God has not given babies so freely are subjected to similar interrogation at the cost of much greater pain.

Reb. Mary said...

I hate the cornered feeling. Upon hearing that we'd miscarried, someone I barely know asked, "So are you gonna try again?" Responding gracefully to the assumptions of the "trying" mentality is difficult enough, even under better circumstances.

Dakotapam said...

Here's one for you. When we were merely expecting our fifth child, there was little or no comment...obviously we were trying for a girl after four boys. (note: we did pray for a girl...but that was not the purpose of said conception). Fast forward to the ultrasound announcing twin girls. All of a sudden I get comments such as "Geesh, have you guys heard of BC?" "Don't you have cable" etc.

Because, somehow, to conceive twins, we must have been REALLY careless.

I usually smile sweetly, but my old Adam wants to blurt out "How rude!" and then comment on what must be their apparent over use of BC...which would be equally rude and insensitive.

Oh, and expecting twins, puts me right back in the temporarily avowed camp...this has been a rough go!

lisa said...

There's a "rude" way and then there's a righteously indignant way.

They look alike I guess - but let God judge. Often people will be offended by the message (bc it's dirty dirty LAW) no matter how sweetly you couch it as sweet, liberating GOSPEL with a genuine, interested, unassuming smile on your face.

An acquaintance was talking to me about families having "a lot" of kids. She was "for it" to a "certain point", etc etc. She had no problem badmouthing families who didn't lockstep to her personal amorphous criteria. (Funny, doesn't the world seem to have a double standard? They tell US, we DON'T tell them.) Finally I just said the truth - "You know, when people ask me about my "trying" to have kids, they are asking me about my sex life. Are you asking me about my sex life, because that grosses me out."

Now - to some that's rude. To me it's saying, "You see that? That's my personal boundary. Get off of it."

She looked shocked, but that's fine. My next move was to direct her to my husband standing outside so she could ask him - so I guess we're both lucky it didn't get that far.

Gauntlets said...

Pam: I cannot imagine the difficulty of a twin pregnancy. You are a hero, and I'm completely serious. Keep your head up. :)

Lisa: Your approach is brilliant. I'm going to steal it.

Untamed Shrew said...

Yes, why is it that talking about Doneness is welcome small talk, but talking about children being blessings whenever and however they come is considered preachy or condescending? I'm always amused at how I'm supposed to be an open book to the very people who would be offended if I asked them the same questions.

I've used a Lisa-esque approach when asked how many we plan to have. It usually goes something like, "Well, I no longer abuse my body with abortifacients and synthetic hormones, but I don't tell my husband what to do with his body. You should ask him how many more times he intends to impregnate me." (Oh yes I would! Pam knows. :0)

Dakotapam said...

She would too...and she wouldn't even blush.

Theophil Jones said...

It's a little bit of a double standard for men. I usually can get away with saying, "I just really like my kid's mama" and winking.

It astounds me what people feel like they can talk about, give their opinion about, or comment on. Mama Jones's favorite thing to do is look hard at our children then say, "Hmmm, I just can't decide which one I wouldn't have wanted..."

Rebekah said...

Because, somehow, to conceive twins, we must have been REALLY careless.

Um. Wow.

Lisa, I am also mystified by "it's fine to a point of my arbitrary appointment." Nice work.

Reb. Mary said...

I'm really liking some of these responses. It's so nice to see that we haven't lost our sense of humor :)

Untamed Shrew said...

"Why would we 'use' anything? We don't have VD...."

Rebekah said...

Shrew, my husband was adjuncting a while back for some of Our Beloved Synod's brilliant young collegians when this topic came up. One student was incredulous that "You and your wife don't use any protection?!" He had to explain to the horrified child that I was in no way dangerous. :P

Untamed Shrew said...

One of our field worker's wives recently commented how tired she was, so I said, "You think you might be pregnant?" Her hands flew up to her mouth and she said, "Oh, that would be awful!"

Yes'm, I reckon I've got plenty to do 'round these here parts.

Reb. Mary said...

Shrew, we're counting on you to convert 'em all :D