Friday, October 15, 2010

Warning! Breeder Alert!

I have been blessed through my years of parenthood to run into very few nasty or rude people.  I've never been told I can't nurse a hungry baby in public.  Most people who see me out and about with my entourage either say nice things or make the stock, "You've got your hands full!" comment, to which I can only agree.  There was the one fellow at the library one day who suggested that I needed to get a TV, but generally, I don't attract too many shocked looks or strange comments when the whole gang is with me.

Today I was out shopping at my local, teeny health/organic food store, where I buy spices in bulk, as well as steel cut oats, turbinado sugar and green lentils among other things.  Now, I don't live in the suburbs where all my Catholic mom friends with their mega-sized families live.  I live near downtown in one of those hip, trendy, urban neighborhoods, although I am not and never have been hip or trendy.  What kind of people mostly live in hip, trendy neighborhoods?  Singles, confirmed bachelors (if you know what I mean) and young-ish couples who might have one or two kids.  Not women who drive 12 passenger vans and regularly cart around half a dozen children. But there you have it, I live amongst those who are not like me.  But we occasionally shop at the same stores.

So here I was shopping in the hippy store (let's face it, that's what those stores are and they have the patchouli to prove it), and we ran into a friend with her son along. So even though my oldest happened to be off on a camping trip and not in attendance, I was still surrounded by six children when a woman came into the store looked at me with shock and said, "Please tell me these aren't all your children."  Well, they weren't, so I didn't claim them all, but my friend's son was quick to point out that my children weren't even all there.  More shocked looks.  But the woman regained her composure, told me I had a beautiful family and after I thanked her, I thought we were free to move on.

She could not.  Five seconds later, she followed me around the corner to ask me how I managed to take care of them all.  I told her one at a time and day by day.  I'm never good at snappy comebacks.

When we got to the yogurt section she was still trailing behind, still shocked and still discussing the size of my family.  When we got to the checkout line there she was asking, "So did you wait at all before popping them out?  Are they all 9 months apart?" And then addressing my five year old, "How old are you?"

It was starting to get a little weird.  I don't expect not to be something of an oddity.  There aren't many families with a million children out there, especially not in neighborhoods full of urban hipsters, but I do like to eventually be left in peace and I really hate discussions about my children that involve the expression "popping them out" -- especially conversations carried on in front of those same children.

In the end, after following us out to her car parked next to ours and gawking at what she had probably assumed was a delivery van, the woman left us alone and drove away.  I knew I was going to have to head over to my blog and write about the encounter, and I can only wonder if she headed home to do the same.

"I saw a woman at the store today with, like, a zillion kids! What the ^(&@!!@ is she thinking?  Doesn't she care about the environment?  Do you think she hasn't heard of birth control? Man, was she ever surrounded by kids! And you should have seen her van. O.M.G. It was huge!"


Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith said...

God bless you and all of your children. I can empathize with you, although I only have two, because my girls are obviously adopted. Sometimes, people start conversations with no sense of how their words would make my children feel.
Ironically, one of the statements was made by another prayer volunteer while I was standing in peaceful vigil for 40 Days for Life.

Anonymous said...

So who does Ms Minding-Everybody's-Business-But-Her-Own think is going to pay her Social Security? Or, for that matter, visit her sorry self in a nursing home?

This is one of my hot buttons, the content of the butting in as well as the notion that it is perfectly all right to approach strangers (or friends) with personal comments and questions. Have we all forgotten how to talk about the weather?!

Jordana said...

Patricia, I can live with the occasional comment or question, as long as they are polite, but being followed around a store questioned over and over as if the poor woman couldn't look away from my personal train wreck, was just plain odd. And rude.

melissa said... know me, this has happened more times than I'd care to admit, but there is one thing. My experience has been that when folks accost us like that, they're secretly admiring of our ability to bear and raise so many kids.

Yeah, we stand out, but if the kids are well-behaved, most people probably walk away amazed in a good way. :)

Janis Gore said...

I grew up with six siblings.

I look at a family like yours or Chris's and think, "When does mama sleep?"

Ken & Carol said...

You are one patient lady. Perhaps you should have consoled your interlocutor about her apparent barrenness!

Kate Wicker @ Momopoly said...

You're a beautiful witness. Forget the snappy comebacks (I stink at them, too). What you said, "One at a time and day by day," is the only way to explain the blessing that is yours of a big family. If people don't get it, forget about them (I have to follow my own advice here because I spend way too much time worrying about what others will think instead of focusing on pleasing God).

A friend of mine with nine kids told me that when she starts to get the stares and astonished comments, she simply says, "We come in peace!" I plan on stealing that line if I'm blessed enough to have a bigger brood.

RSA Certificate said...

Ha "we come in peace", classic. I come from a large family and I used to get SO irritated with people who did that.

Dan said...

Just remember - there are many different kinds of families, and we have to be accepting of all of them.

Unless, of course, they're above average, nuclear, two-parent, genetically related families.

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