There was a time when I would not even participate in these conversations; not knowing how to answer and failing my identity regardless of what truth I told. For instance, if I was the mother of three I was filled with guilt about not acknowledging Flynn, but if I was the mother of four I dreaded the explanation that would usually transpire. However, over time my attitude toward these conversations has softened and I find myself capable of participating in the social exchange. What is my strategy, you ask (even if you didn't)? Be the one asking the questions and when the other person finishes answering, provide my corresponding answer to my original question.
Example: "You have children? [person answers], I do too, all boys." Can you see how it may be easier when you know the question being asked (again, humour me)?
Back to the current product party, my time there went fairly well, until I was struck not by a question but by an answer. In talking with another mother, who identified that she had four children, the question of their ages arose.
"They are 13-10-7-4"
I could see the mothers smile change to a look of confusion as I regained my composure from what felt like a twenty minute daze (I am sure[hope]it was only seconds). Regardless of the length of my stare, the mother then asked me the same question. I was still recovering from my realization.
I should have four boys 13-10-7-4.
I was beginning to bubble with anticipatory guilt, this is the type of scenario where I tell only my present reality and not my lived one. I do not know this woman, I do not want to share that piece of me but I don't want to feel the guilt of my half-truth. I take a deep breath and steady my response.
"13-10-7-4, that is what I would have, my second son passed away shortly after he was born."
The mother smiled back sympathetically, "I am sorry."
It is the first time in a very long time that I walked away from a conversation thinking, there should be four.