Just now, in the Chinese restaurant:
Cashier: Thanks, res. Happy Mother's Day! /hesitates Are you a mother?
Me: No. /smiles
Cashier: Oh! /makes sad face; strokes my hand
A few weeks ago, at a four-year-old's birthday party:
Adult partygoer: Hello, I'm So-and-So. My son Such-and-Such is the blonde one with the striped shirt and cake in his hair.
Me: Cute! Hi, I'm res. Birthday boy is my partner's Godchild.
Adult partygoer: Oh, are you the childless friends?
Me: I think I'll fix myself a drink.
Last year, Mother's Day, at the greenmarket:
Guy selling fish: Thanks. Happy Mother's Day. Are you a mother?
Me: No. /smiles
Guy selling fish: Well, don't worry. It takes no talent.
Woman next to me: What the hell do you mean, 'It takes no talent'? /commences rant
Me: /smiles, walks away
I think I know what the fishmonger meant, but whether or not conceiving, giving birth, and/or mothering takes talent is not my point.
What is the proper response in these situations? I don't have children. I wanted them, but I didn't have them. (Do I say that?) Once that made me sad, but now I am okay with it. (How about that?) There are children in my life. (Should I tell them about the three-month twins whose acquaintance I made about two weeks ago and whose pictures are now my screen saver?). I like children. I just didn't have them.
Maybe this is my first mistake, but I don't object to people assuming I have children and wishing me a "Happy Mother's Day". What I do object to is the assumption that I need my hand patted when someone asks me if I do, and I reply, "No". I smile for a reason when I say, "No" (to put the person asking the question at ease). Am I wrong to do so? It took some work to be okay with not having children, but I did accomplish that work. Should I start ranting? Or maybe I have this all backwards?