A friend recently told me about a mutual Chinese friend who has a baby close to a year old.
She and her husband were not going to celebrate the Chinese New Year (THE important family holiday in China) with her relatives because most of them don’t know that this is her second baby.
Although the one-child ban has eased to two as of recently, their child was born a few months too early, thus putting her husband at risk of losing his job if the second child is found out.
Being a mother of many children, I think about the anticipation of each pregnancy (once I adjusted to the shock), and the joy that the arrival of each one brought.
How friends, neighbors and family all rejoiced together. How they helped with the older ones, and shared stories, brought meals, lived in community with me.
But this precious woman (and man) have kept not only a 9.5 month pregnancy a secret–they also moved to a new neighborhood around the time of birth, and they are now wrapping up their second year of keep a major life event a secret from important people in their lives.
How on earth can you not slip and tell a funny story about your baby? How about pictures on your phone? Buying baby supplies at the store? How does the older preteen sibling keep his/her mouth shut? I cannot even imagine the ramifications.
I am struggling to comprehend this kind of forced secrecy.
Yet, I just read another article on the topic today, and thought I’d share.
People around me everywhere were in their childbearing years in this era.
Not just my young newlywed friends, but my friends with one grown child.
How many of them have a similar story swept under the carpet, suppressed as a forbidden topic?
I have no idea, but I do know that when I go through the city with my little group, the first question is always, “Are they all your children?”
Sometimes I imagine a hint of wistfulness as they examine each child, decide who’s the fairest, who’s the most beautiful, who’s the smartest, who’s the most hyperactive.
I catch their eye and smile gently, but always with an awareness that there is more under the surface.