With 4 young children, it’s not uncommon to get comments about our family size when we are out in public these days. There are the classics:
- You know what causes this, right?
- Wow, you certainly have your hands full!
- Are they all yours?!
- You’re going to end up like the Duggars!
Those few we hear quite often, along with a host of variations of them. Normally I just smile and enter into a small conversation with the about how much we love our family. I realize that many of the people who stop to say something to us don’t say it to be mean or rude, they are just striking up a conversation or wonder how we manage it all. Some people even stop to tell us how well behaved our children are. We even had an older couple pay for our meal at a restaurant one time. They stopped by our table on their way out and told us how beautiful our family was and how well behaved the kids were. It felt great!
But then, then there are the comments that leave me shocked that someone could be so rude, so mean, directly in front of our kids. One day while grocery shopping (back when I was still pregnant with our fourth) I made the mistake of heading to the grocery store right before dinner time. Zellene was a little over a year old at the time and the girl can EAT. Ever since she started eating solid foods she has had a healthy appetite. So, there we were, walking through the grocery store and I was putting item after item into our cart that looked delicious to her. Of course, after about 30 minutes of this, she started to cry. She wanted some of the pretzels I’d just put into our cart. She wasn’t screaming or wailing loudly, but as we walked past a middle-aged woman in the store she loudly stated, “Ugh, I’m SO glad I don’t have kids!”. My initial reaction was to tell her that it was her loss and it was really the child who was lucky that they didn’t have her as a mother. I felt such strong anger boiling inside of me though that I knew I needed to walk away rather than create a scene in front of my children who were so busy looking at the shelves of cereal that I doubt they heard her harsh words anyway. Later that evening as I pondered her actions, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her and the joy she’d missed out on.
Last week while enjoying a meal out with some friends of ours (another couple who don’t yet have any children of their own), someone stopped by our table to admire Gideon. She talked about what a cute baby he was and then looked around our table and asked which, if any, of the other children were ours. “Oh they’re all ours,” my husband stated. Her eyes got wide and she looked to Zellene and asked how old she was. “She’s 22 months,” my husband said. That’s when she started to shake her head and muttered something about us not giving enough time to loving Zellene before having another child and walked away.
I was stunned and appalled by her blatant rudeness. I didn’t really react. I didn’t know how to react. You just aren’t prepared for comments like that. Look, I get it that not everyone wants 4 children. I get it that many people would not choose to have their children so close together. Please don’t tell me (or any new mom for that matter) that she can not love her children adequately. Sure, there are days when life with 4 little ones is tough (there were tough days when we only had 1 child too), but there is nothing in the world that would make me what to change our family. There is so much joy in our home and so much love.
Having a big family is awesome. If you don’t agree that’s fine; it’s not for everyone. Just please — keep your negative opinions to yourself. We’ll just be over here having a blast, loving life!