Are you done?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 11, 2004

Valerie at the Barefoot and Pregnant blog recounts the reception accorded her newborn in church just before Sunday Mass:

I was waiting for my oldest daughter to come out of the bathroom, and, as usual, I was holding baby Cate. A young woman comes up to me, dribbling all the usual, casual, "oh, you have a new baby" kind of stuff, and she acted like she knew me. ...

She asked: Is this five now?

Me: No, six. (smiling graciously, while averting eyes to the bathroom door looking for daughter)

Her: Six! Are you done?

It's instructive to ponder the unspoken assumptions at the back of this particular specimen of rudeness. You don't rebuke a stranger for some fault unless you have reason to think he has sinned against a code of right and wrong so primitive and universal that he can't deny his culpability -- as when a man shoulders a cripple aside to grab the last seat on a bus. You have to feel pretty secure in your own rightness.

In this case, how did Valerie let down the team? Hint: It has nothing to do with concupiscence.

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  • Posted by: - Nov. 16, 2004 3:19 PM ET USA

    We have six - and my standard answer to the "You must be busy / have your hands full" was to smile and say, "Yup. Keeps me out of trouble." Try homeschooling your medium-to-large size family and you'll REALLY get comments. It's worth it, though!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 13, 2004 8:54 AM ET USA

    And then, there's the old: "M. Y. O. B." Terse but effective! A Mother of Seven ~

  • Posted by: - Nov. 12, 2004 8:25 AM ET USA

    I'd bet ninety five percent of the Catholic couples I know are either sterilized or birth-controlled. Three is the absolute top number of children they will allow. They have no qualms about saying so. On the other hand there are those of us who have only had one or two because that's all God sent us. Be careful about judging based on the number of children you see.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 11, 2004 7:07 PM ET USA

    I like to have a good answer to the strangers (and there are MANY of them) who feel compeled to comment about my 5 young kids. One common remark is spoken with a pained look: "You sure have your hands full!" I smile happliy and reply "Yes I do, in a nice sort of a way."

  • Posted by: - Nov. 11, 2004 6:59 PM ET USA

    Pregnant with my 4th, I bumped into a group of Protestants in the middle of a Bible study with the Protestant Chaplain. I got the same question from the Chaplain-- "So, are you done after this one?" I responded: "My husband and I like to include God in on that decsion, and we're not sure what His plan is, yet." Around equally ignorant Catholics, I prefer this tack: "We're not sure just now how many we will be blessed with, but when we get there I'm sure we will know." We now have five!

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Nov. 11, 2004 3:46 PM ET USA

    When the choice to abort is exalted in this society, that specific quantum of outrage has to go somewhere - either to mock virginity or motherhood (without an artificial infertility). This young woman was probably thinking "BREEDER" and then considered herself a model of restraint by holding back and not saying it to Valerie.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 11, 2004 12:04 PM ET USA

    The sad thing is that this comment is coming from one of the 33% of Catholics AT Mass that day. "When the Son of Mass returns, will He find any faith left on Earth?"

  • Posted by: - Nov. 11, 2004 11:34 AM ET USA

    Obviously, the young woman was one of those advanced thinking types that abhor the thought of little "rug rats" crawling about the house. And, undoubtedly sensitive to the need for diversity, multi-culturalism, and inclusiveness in modern life. In short, an obnoxious, rude, intrusive busybody.