When Is a Good Time to Mention That I Gave Birth to This Kid, But Not That One?

Let’s just say that I’m talking to someone I don’t know well, and the fact that I have a toddler comes up. This might be, say, when I’m talking to the only other nursing mom in the office, and we’re joking about the pumping room. Then, the conversation goes something like this:

“How old is your son?”

“He’s 16 months, and my older son is 5.”

“[Generic commentary about having kids. Sleep deprivation, childcare amiright!, aren’t they cute / don’t they make you crazy, haha.]”

At some point, we reach The Moment. Do I explain that I carried the younger one, and that my wife carried the older one? Does it matter? Probably not. But it can be awkward to NOT explain, especially if I’m going to see this person again. My supervisor, for example, recently said to me, “well, you’ve given birth twice, so you can handle anything.”

Which is a nice thing to say, but isn’t true…

…and I didn’t correct her, because the moment passed quickly. It’s bugging me, though.

It also comes up sometimes when someone mentions genetic resemblance. I don’t know. On the one hand, the world does not need to know. On the other hand, I know, my kids know, my wife knows, and it does affect our family dynamics – not negatively or positively, mind you, but it just IS. I’m reminded of writing this post, years ago, when Jaybird was little. I’m reminded of feeling like I was going “non-bio incognito” when I was out alone with Jaybird as a baby. I wonder, actually, sometimes, if Jaybird thinks about this when it’s just the two of us and someone refers to me as his “mom,” singular. He usually corrects people – “that’s my mama” – because of course, to him, that distinction is really important. Will it be later? I don’t know.

I mean, it’s not their business. I guess it’s most on my mind when I’m talking to other moms, like the other nursing mom at work, and I just know that she assumes that I nursed Jaybird too. It’s funny, for me. There’s the whole question of relating on a first-time-nursing-mom level, which I’d argue is different than relating to a second-time-nursing-mom.

Really, it’s not unlike the question of whether to come out when people assume that you have a husband. The answer to that is usually easier, for me. I try to say “WIFE” clearly at some point before things get awkward. But when it comes to the kiddos, it’s not so obvious.

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One thought on “When Is a Good Time to Mention That I Gave Birth to This Kid, But Not That One?

  1. Whew! So much here. I feel like I go out of my way to explain my situation to the other parents in the lactation room at work (maybe because I greedily want the connections with both first-and second-time moms?) but am getting much better about picking my battles (for lack of a better word) with strangers. With resemblance observations I’m now mostly in the habit of saying thanks and moving on–I figure that’s how I want to model response to any commentary about physical appearance with my daughters, whether or not they’re factually accurate–and for anything else, I try to channel my wife who is soooo much better than me at a) not caring what other people think and b) judging the actual “need to know” ness of a situation. But it’s tough to override my instincts of a) wanting to give credit where credit is due (again, to use a cliche for lack of better verbiage) and b) oversharing. And I’m very cognizant about wanting to not perpetuate false assumptions about my family and also raise awareness about the diversity of family structures in the world. Plus I really do love how we built this little family of ours!

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