As I clumsily maneuvered the stroller past you, I accidentally ran over your foot. “Don’t worry about it,” you assured me over my profuse apologies. “I have three children myself,” you revealed to me. My eyes traveled to your big belly. There was an awkward pause as I wondered if I could assume she was pregnant. “And I’m expecting my fourth,” you admitted. “Congratulations!,” I tell her. “That is wonderful!” I see the relief spread across her face. “Thank you!” she says, and I could tell she meant it. “You have no idea how many people offer their condolences when they find out this is my fourth. Or they ask me if this was planned.” “How rude of them,” I reply. “All children are a blessing.”
When I was pregnant with number four, I braced myself.
I was expecting rude comments.
But no, people were really supportive. I was surprised. Because I've internalized the rules:
There seems to be some unspoken rule that you are only allowed to have two children: one girl and one boy, about 2-5 years apart. If you mess up and fail to meet the gender quota of one of each, you are permitted to go out on a limb and have a third. However, you will risk endless ridicule from strangers if you really mess up and end up with (God forbid ) THREE of the same gender.
When you explain to people you have four, you brace yourself. Now, it's not that comments are all bad, but some people comment, and they express their wonder. And that's alright, it is something of a wonder to have four kids. But you still have this fear someone will imply something negative.
And the rules are even more severe for me because I have three children with autistic diagnosis. My fourth will be evaluated at the end of the month. I suspect they will send me home and say "come back in six months."
My gut instinct says she has ASD. Four kids with ASD. People might wonder how that could happen.
How I could have allowed that to happen.
As if ASD is all bad.
It's not all bad.
The story of how I let myself have four ASD kids is complicated, because I didn't always know they had ASD, and you can never predict "what you're going to get".
As the blogger says:
Besides, I hate to point out the obvious, but no matter what you plan on having, you get what you get. As much as we want to, we can’t control everything. Especially when it comes to child bearing.
When you have kids, you cannot predict what will happen. I used to think that it was practically a given that your kids will be healthy and reasonably normal. Ha. Joke's on me, right?
And this is why unconditional love and acceptance is a prerequisite to parenting. You can't just say you only want this kind of child, or that kind, or this many, etc. You have to be ready to love and deal with the most unexpected things.
I think one of the biggest myths out there is that your life can only be happy if it's planned, and everything is done according to what you want. Your life is not a disaster because you had a kid that messed up your plans.
There's more to life than what you want.