It was a week after we had lost Ava and someone I crossed paths with occasionally noticed I was obviously no longer pregnant and innocently asked, “I know you are probably tired of people asking, but how are you feeling?” Well, actually no one has asked me yet, I thought. I responded with a soft, “As good as can be I guess.” She then flippantly replied, “I hated being pregnant. I couldn’t wait until it was over. But, it’s all worth it isn’t it?” She laughed as she walked away.
A few days later, a man asked me “What’s new with you? Oh, just had my baby die inside of me a couple weeks ago, so not much! I mean, what do you say?
I have avoided getting my hair cut for the last few months because hairstylists like to do the whole small talk thing. And what comes up in small talk with strangers when you’re a woman of my age? Kids. I know how I want to respond, but whether I can get it out… Then how to proceed through the miserable exchange or awkward silence that will follow?
We went out to buy new furniture because we had extra room in our budget now that we no longer need to buy a crib, changing table, etc. The salesperson, looking to up-sell us on the warranty, asked if we had kids. My knee-jerk reaction was a quick no, which I immediately regretted. The salesperson went on about how great it was to get furniture and “all the fun things” before having kids.
What do you say?
I’ve never been the best in social situations. I am an introvert through and through, so small talk was never appealing. I realize people are just being kind and have good intentions when striking up small talk. I don’t fault them. Mine is more a complaint for the concept in general. Americans greet others by asking how you are. They don’t really care. I worked in the mental health field for years, and when I greet someone in passing with a “How are you?” and it’s met with anything but a “fine,” I generally wish I hadn’t asked. So how can I expect others to want to know how I really am?
I know my future is full of “Do you have any kids?” or “Is this your first baby?” And I know how I will respond. I have a daughter who passed away; she would have been XX years old now. I also know that once I respond, they will generally wish they hadn’t asked. And every time I will wish that didn’t have to be my answer.