Monday, April 27, 2009

How Many Kids Do You Have? Stumbling Block

How do you answer this question?

I know this was one thing that was hard in the early days that kind of caught me unexpectedly. It was hard to talk about Gabriel, and also equally hard NOT to talk about him. It was wrong either way- whether I included him or not.

Even after 7 years this question still gives me pause. Usually, I just mention my living kids, unless it is someone I will know well or will have a longer relationship with.

More often lately though I've been running into people commenting what a 'perfect' family I have- two girls, two boys. I usually bite my tongue because I know it is not even-steven, not perfect. It is 2 girls, 3 boys. Or rather, it should be.

There is an 8 year gap between my older two and my younger two. A gaping hole in my family where Gabriel should be.

What do YOU say when someone asks 'How many kids do you have?'. Do you answer differently than your husband?



Living With Loss said...

I hate that question.

To most people I answer 'none'...but it breaks my heart. But if I said 'three' then I'd have to explain when they went on to ask me how old they are or what their names are. I couldn't do that to strangers or people I don't know very well. most wouldn't understand unless they'd been there themselves. Especially as my losses were in the 1st trimester - so many people don't 'count' that as being your child.

But to my husband and my close family I say I have 3 children and that's what I truly believe. The moment they were conceived they became our children.

Take care, N x

Lechelle said...

Strangers/People I could care less about: "none"
People who are going to matter at all in my life: "I have two kids, a son named Easton and a daughter named Charlie. They both died during pregnancy, so I get to be with them in the next life."

I don't really know how to answer that question, so I give different answers to different people.

Most of the time I say none. Both my losses were at the end of 1st/beginning of 2nd trimesters, so I really hear what Living With Loss has said. To a lot of people, my babies don't 'count'. Even though I know they count and I know they are always mine, I don't want to share them with people who would try to devalue them. My babies are too sacred. So for this reason, I don't talk about them with people who I don't know well or don't give off the right vibe. But when I do meet those people who will be in my life for a while or who are really worth it, then I tell them.

It's funny, since we lost our first baby my friendships have changed. I've dropped friends who get uncomfortable hearing about my babies and only kept the ones who care and try to understand.

Lea said...

"it's hard to talk about my lost son, but it's also equally hard NOT to talk about him". I feel that exact same way. I always want to acknowledge Nicholas, to let people know that there is another little soul in our family. Sometimes the situation allows for that, other times it seems like the conversation (or the silence) to follow will be too hard to bare. It really depends on who I am talking to.

Our family will always acknowledge Nicholas (at least they better, if they know what's good for them!)

Thanks for this thought.

caitsmom said...

I always say "Yes, I have a child. She lives in heaven." It's bittersweet, but I cannot say that I don't have any children, because it isn't true. I don't care if I make others uncomfortable. If I don't want to explain, I say "thanks for asking, but I'd prefer not to explain." Few people ask too much about her.

corilee said...

That is a tough question. I have one living child who just turned nine, so to complete strangers I only have him. I love the two questions of "Are you going to have more"? or "Why don't you have more?". I don't dare acknowledge that it took over seven years that resulted in a loss. That is always a double edge sword.

Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts said...

My husband usually just says 3 and leaves it at that.. I often hedge and try to avoid a direct answer.. I'll say things like my 3 "big kids".. People who will be in my life for awhile I DO say, 4, 3 here and one in Heaven.. The opportunity has been more to say that Kayleigh IS a big sister, her baby brother is just in Heaven now..

It IS a stumbling block.. I Long for the day I can answer questions such as this without getting all weepy..

Rachel said...

I have kind of perfected this answer over the last four years. What I say is I have three children. If the person contiues asking I say my living children are 7 and 3. And if they continue inquiring I will tell them more specifics. I let the conversation dictate how much is thrown out there. Most people stop at either the three answer or the two living. It took some time to get there. I do wear my Mom cubed shirt proudly. And PS I had mine before Kate Goselin. ;-)

Bates Family said...

I have felt the same way. I want to tell people about my son but yet I don't. I talk a lot about him to my mom which has helped. My parents have a lot of granddaughters and only one biological grandson (besides my son). Someone asked her a few months ago how many biological grandsons she has and she told them 2. It felt good to have her acknowledge my son. Also, my in-laws said something about it being up to my husband and I to give them grandsons and I kind of got angry and told them, "Well, we have already given you one. We will work on the rest for ya." I know they didn't mean it rude but I was still mourning my son. I want to tell the world that I have two children but know that they will look at me funny because I only have one that they can see.

Emily said...

Thank you for sharing your responses. I appreciate it so much.

I know someone who tells people she has 'two kids, but one of them is home right now' and she knows 'home' is not here on earth

I agree it is the tricky next questions that sometimes get me- "Are you going to have more" like Corilee said

HanamiPapa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HanamiPapa said...

I hate getting this question when I least expect it—I usually stumble and fidget. I know those that ask must think I’m nuts. “How can he not know how many children he has, it’s a simple question?” It’s not a simple question and sometimes more difficult when I know its going to come such as when I take my son to the park. I am a stay at home dad and love to take my two year old son to the playground but it is tough sometimes. On any given day there are usually 3-6 moms all chatting, their kids all playing together. I wave, give a big smile; say good morning but getting accepted in the “group” is impossible—I’m a dude. What stinks is when one of the moms finally extends a hand but then the question come up. So of course I tell them about my sweet Angel Nicolas, we are kind of neighbors and we will probably see each other a few times a week but I can see it in their eyes they want to slowly back away, not make any sudden movements and pretend it never came up. Oops… So my boy and I are back in our corner. Oh well, I went to have fun with my son it would have been nice for him to have a play date though. I’m sorry Christopher papa is still learning after three years you’d think I’d have it figured out by now.