Firstly I have to tell you all about something very exciting that happened this week. I'm very proud to say that this blog was featured on the "Little Steps" website as one of Asia's Top Mom Blogs! I started the blog when I was sleep deprived and feeling a little isolated and crazy, and spent my days wondering if anyone else had the same thoughts and feelings I did about motherhood and Hong Kong. The response has been amazing, and you've all helped me see that I'm not alone. It has started many interesting and valuable conversations, with old friends and new ones, and has evolved into more than I ever expected. So a big Thank You to everyone who has read or contributed in some way! Check out the plug for A Mummy in a Strange Land at http://www.littlestepshongkong.com/articles/learn/asias-top-mom-blogs.
Now I want to follow on from my last post (And Baby Makes Four...?) a little bit. Last night we had dinner with friends and midway through the evening the husband of the pair (who doesn't read the blog) asked when we were having our next baby. The wife (who does read the blog) shrieked "you can't ask them that!!" I just laughed, and the conversation that followed got me thinking about the assumptions that we all make about each other. These lovely friends of ours have triplets, three beautiful, healthy boys. Most people would assume that an instant family of three is a blessing, and more than enough, but apparently they still get asked why they're not trying for a girl! People assume that when you're in a committed relationship, you must want to get married one day, and after you're married the assumption is made that you'll have children. We assume that once a couple has had one baby, they'll soon start thinking about a second, preferably one of the opposite sex to the first, so they'll have one of each. I don't know why it is that we have these preconceived notions about families and relationships but I know a number of couples who have been happily committed for years, and have no intention of getting married, nor any need to. One couple we know have been married as long as we have and don't plan to ever have children. They're quite content with each other and their dog. We also know more than one couple with only one child, and they like it that way. The children are also pretty happy with the arrangement too.
It does seem natural to assume that once a couple has had one child, they will want another one at some point. Apart from the dangers involved in making that assumption in the first place, there is also the potential for upset when asking "so when's the next one coming along?" if the couple have been trying for number two, without success. If you've fallen pregnant quite easily the first time round but have difficulty with the next one it can be incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking, and people asking you if you're pregnant or if you plan to be, doesn't help. For now, since I'm not actively trying, I don't mind so much, but I'm curious to see how long it takes before people stop asking: when they might start tiptoeing around the topic - just in case it's a delicate subject. When you think about it, it really is a delicate subject. When you ask someone if they're trying for a baby what you're really asking is "are you having loads of sex and hoping to get pregnant at the moment?" But because no one ever puts it that way, I guess that makes it ok to ask!
I think we make these assumptions because getting married and having babies is what people have done for hundreds of years, and when we're lucky enough to find joy and contentment with our marriages and babies, we find it hard to understand why anyone wouldn't want the same life. Hopefully as our ideas about what constitutes a relationship and a family change, so too will the assumptions we make about what makes people happy. Whether you believe in the standard nuclear family, or you're a diehard, child-free singleton, one assumption you should never make is that someone is already pregnant. Not drinking at a party or having a bit of a pot belly are not always signs that a woman will soon be hearing the pitter patter of little feet. It's quite possibly the biggest nosy parker crime you could commit (and is typically committed by men) but no one should ever ask "when are you due?" Unless you know with 100% certainty that a tummy is the result of a bun in the oven and not just a big lunch.
The boys and I are off to Bali for a week and I am so looking forward to it. There'll be a big fat post with lots of photos when I return, and hopefully loads of praise for my perfect little traveller!