Monday, July 2, 2007

Are they all yours?

We’re taking care of our nieces for a few days while my sister-in-law and brother-in-law get away for their fourteenth anniversary. (Happy Anniversary, R & L!) I love having their girls here. At ten and eight, they are big help to me, and so much fun to hang around with. We’ve been having a blast! The girls and I even used a Polish dessert mix to make a complicated-looking-on-the-box cake. (Which is, of course, inedible. But we had a really good time trying to figure out what “soku owocowego” was!)

The five kids and I were out briefly this morning; we got lots of stares, and one outright question: “Are they all yours?” (Said with that freaked out tone of voice.) I just smiled and said, “No, but I wish they were! They’re all so much fun!” But inside, I was annoyed. Why do complete strangers feel the need to know this information? Seriously. This question ranks right up there with the “How did you end up with twins?” question. (Would you believe people are still asking? Of course, my favorite response is a whispered, “S – E – X.”)

I realize people are just curious, but can’t we all show a little restraint? Whether someone has one kid, nine kids, or no kids, stop and ask yourself: is this any of my business? Unless it’s your spouse you’re talking to, probably not.

Now. Let’s role play. You see a pregnant woman leaving the supermarket while you’re going in. She’s got four kids that appear to be under the age of six with her. What should you say?? Quick??

Everyone repeat after me: “Let me get that door for you.” Trust me. Say it with a smile, and you’ll make her day!

23 comments:

Phil Monroe said...

Great comment! We get, "are they yours?" to our AA, adopted children. Well, here's what I've never said but always wanted to, "We had double recessive genes and they came out that way."

Actually, I don't mind this question from children. The question that really irks me is, "Are they brothers?"

I'm not sure why that is important but we get that one many many times. Usually, I answer yes, by adoption or just yes if I'm feeling irritated.

MamaToo said...

absolutely great response!

I confess: I've probably been one who gasped in awe or asked the stupid & obvious question. Sometimes I catch myself, but holding my tongue is a work in progress.
I want a "large" family myself, while I am in awe of those who are already there. Do you get the, "How do you do it?" or "Are you crazy?" or "I could never..." I've both given and received those odd commentaries, and there are really few good ways of expressing admiration of differences without sounding like a clod. I love your sense of humor & compassion... it's a good example.

Erika Haub said...

As a prego who is managing a two-year old and a one-year old, may I add my loud "Amen!"

Craver Vii said...

The funny thing is, we're probably not talking about double-digits here. People only see it as large because of bizarre cultural norms. People have said that I come from a large family 'cause there were six kids. How come that's large? I think half-a-dozen should still be considered medium.

Mrs. Craver and I only have four, but we wish we had more.

Children are a gift from God. (Wow, I said that with a straight face.)

The flipside of this conversation can also be awkward, or even painful. I know a young lady, married seven years, who does not attend church on Mother's day because she cannot conceive. It makes her cry when people assume they are on some kind of extended honeymoon and need to have children so they can "grow up." They looked into adopting, but it was cost-prohibitive at this time.

Frazzmom said...

Thanks for bringing this up... Out here in CA it's "socially irresponsible" and "poluting the Earth" to have more than 1.3 children. Yada, yada, yada... blah, blah, blah.

I know families who have left the state because they were tired of dealing with other people's comments. How sad is that?!!

spaghettipie said...

You make me laugh, while reminding me of an important issue: common courtesy. And I love your answer to the twins question!

Llama Momma said...

Phil -- the brother question would bother me too. As a rule of thumb, I always answer the questions of strangers for the little listening ears of my children. "You have your hands full," is answered with, "Yes I do! And I love it!" Even on the days when I DO have my hands full!

Llama Momma said...

mamatoo -- "Are you crazy" is a little offensive, but from a fellow Mom, a sincere "How do you do it?" isn't to me. I get a lot of the "you've got your hands full" comments. I grow weary of it. I know I've got my hands full, I don't need the stranger at the supermarket to tell me too.

You know the conversations I enjoy? The Grandpas and Grandmas who stop and talk to us and remind me that they grow up too fast. People who compliment my children on their good behavior at the store or dining out. People who compliment me on my mothering. (I still remember one no-good-very-bad-day at the grocery store when my boys were three. I was almost done with the shopping, and one of the boys started pitching a fit. I put him on time-out in the produce section while I stood nearby, watching him yell about the injustice of his situation, and a lady came and patted me on the shoulder and said, "Good job, Mom." That really did make my day!

Llama Momma said...

Erika -- Children are a precious gift from God. Your three are blessed beyond measure to have you for their Mom!

Llama Momma said...

craver -- infertility is devastating, and the insensitivity of people's comments makes a bad situation worse.

I'm really enjoying the hubub of having five kids in the house! Always something fun going on!

Llama Momma said...

frazzmom -- that's sad. I know on our trips back to CA, I've felt like a "big" family, though with just three kids, I don't think we are at all. (And, of course, it was strange to be at so many beautiful parks that were completely empty! My children asked, "Mom? Where are all of the kids?"

Llama Momma said...

SP -- It is common courtesy, isn't it? Though it seems that with the topic of kids, people check their manners at the door and think it's all fair game. NOT.

Sarah said...

I hear you loud and clear! Yes, I do have 4 children, and I still miss the fifth. It's no one's business how many anyone has. I don't mind hearing the good comments at all...like at the Olive Garden recently when the quite old couple sitting next to us couldn't stop staring and smiling at us. The kids were well-behaved, and when the couple left, the wife said, "You have such beautiful children." I'd be rich if I had a nickel for everytime someone said that instead of gaping and feeling sorry for me.

One time we were out with my friend who has 5 kids...her husband wasn't there. So it was me, my husband and our three at the time and those six. A table with elderly folks at it actually thought I was the oldest daughter...don't see how that was possible...but a woman actually told my friend (my husband wasn't paying attention, but I was), "You need to get a T.V." She burst into laughter and explained that she did not have 9 children, only 5. Somehow that didn't make it any better to them. Their loss.

A Musing Mom said...

LM-Here's the flip side (as the eldest of five *gasp* and mom of 3): I have to stop myself sometimes when I see a family with only one or two children because my immediate reaction is "how dull". I need to learn to quickly add in my head "for me" because I know that three is my limit and maybe one or two is for that family.

MamaToo said...

LM - yes, I felt like I should clarify: I haven't said "are you crazy?" though I have received it from friends who heard we'd love it if the Lord provides us many children.

I have said, "oh! Wow!" and "My - how do you do it?!" when I encounter mamas with multiple kiddos, often because they seem so "together" and I can't imagine how they pull shoes on all of those feet in the morning.

:)

ChosenRebel said...

I'm the oldest of 7. My Dad was the oldest of 5. My mother was next to the youngest of 11. My birthday is April 3. My first brother, Oct. 6. My first sister April 4, My second brother April 27. Count it up. The first four children in my family were 4 years and 24 days apart. This, before pampers!

My mother has no stories like those of your frind in California. The culture has changed. Families and children are not seen as blessings but burdens in much of the culture. But I wouldn't trade my heritage for anything.

God's word is true, though every man be a liar. Children are a gift from God. Enjoy them, everyone of them.

TJ Wilson said...

LM, great thoughts. My two boys are fairly close in age and look nothing alike - people almost always ask if they're brothers. When they were younger I would say, "Yes, just different dads." It usually shut them down. Then I decided it wasn't very honoring to lie... so now I simply smile. My friends who have 10 young children respond to nay-sayers by asking, "So which one would you suggest sending back?"

Llama Momma said...

sarah -- My husband was recently out with the three kids and ran into a mutual friend at Noodles and Co. with HER three kids. Naturally, they sat together to visit over lunch, with all six kids. Lots of stares, which they both ignored. Good grief!

Llama Momma said...

AMM -- exactly. I suppose that's the point -- we all make different choices based on a variety of factors. Physically, I cannot give birth again, so three is it for us! (Unless God calls us to adopt someday.)

mamatoo -- Ah. How to get all of those shoes on? Teach them all how to put on their shoes. :-)

When the twins started dressing themselves, they put together some very strange outfits. I rarely vetoed them though (if we're going someplace important, I lay their clothes out for them). So, a green t-shirt, checked shorts, and a wool sweater. Great! The important thing to me? Independance.

Llama Momma said...

chosenrebel -- thanks for stopping by! Yes, regardless of what society says, children are a blessing from the Lord. This is the Truth. When I am tired, I lean into this truth and know that what the world deems "menial" work, my Lord honors.

I was often lonely as a child, and would go visit a friend who came from a family of nine. Her Mother never minded me stopping in (what's one more?) and I soaked up the fun and love in that home.

Llama Momma said...

TJ -- I like your friend's response. Which brings me back to the main point -- it's nobody's business!

Jenn said...

For a pseudo-rant of the opposite kind, stop on over at my blog. Meanwhile, let me say that even as a childless single person, I totally get the holding-the-door thing. I used to be a nanny, and ever since, I'm hyperconscious of parents with their hands full trying to enter or exit a building.

Llama Momma said...

Jenn -- Yes, the commentary of strangers (and non-strangers) is with us all. I remember when my husband and I were dating...all of the "when will you get married" questions. And then we did. Then it was "when will you have kids." Then we did. Suddenly it was, "when will you have more kids." And we did. Now it's "Are you done having kids already?" :-)