Thursday, March 2, 2017

When You're Tired Of Hearing "You've Got Your Hands Full"

If you have a big family and you're feeling drained by other peoples' negativity, I have three suggestions for you.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

"Are they all yours?"

Looking up from my bag of tomatoes, I see a lady in the produce aisle pointing at my children.

When I answer that yes, all 6 of them belong to me, she laughs, "Well, God bless ya, honey!"

I'm not sure if that's a compliment or an insult or simply the equivalent of crossing yourself in a spooky graveyard late at night, but I smile politely and move on toward the bagged lettuce.

"You have your hands full!" observes the cashier at the register, scanning my fifth gallon of milk.

I sure do. After I pay for my groceries with the toddler on my hip furiously trying to push all the buttons on the credit card reader, I have to use two carts just to get the food out to the car.

"Just wait until they're teenagers," a guy in the parking lot says, stopping to watch my brood file past.

Indignation starts to well up inside me, because my kids are going to be just as delightful when they're teenagers thankyouverymuch, but he's gone before I can even think of anything to say.

This is par for the course when I take all 6 kids to the grocery store. Or anywhere, really.

Our culture has a framework that is pretty strict when it comes to the number of people in your family:

One child is okay, but kids need a sibling. We won't say anything if you stop there (that's a lie, we will,) but you really should have a second.

Two kids? Great! Your family is perfect. Pass 'Go' and collect $200. Bonus points if you managed to score exactly one boy and one girl.

Three kids is pushing it but we're willing to humor you, especially if you already have two of the same gender. But seriously, this is the last one, right?

Four kids means that (a) the youngest was probably an accident and (b) you are definitely done now. Because nobody in their right mind has five kids.

For a society that preaches the gospel of "you do you," people sure can be critical when "you" don't happen to be doing the same thing as everybody else.

If you have a big family and you're feeling drained by other peoples' negativity, I have three suggestions for you.

1. Try to take it in stride.


Give people the benefit of the doubt, because most of them probably aren't trying to be rude. They just don't realize you've been hearing it all day long and that you just want to buy your groceries without feeling like you may as well be throwing candy from atop a parade float.

Some people might be negative because in their mind children are just loud and expensive, but if you respond positively it could show them that not all people feel that way. Above all, remember that if someone is deliberately insulting it reflects on them, not you. Just laugh it off and enjoy your family.

2. Find other big families.


At a mall playplace once with my three youngest, I struck up a conversation with a dad with three similarly-aged children. You should have seen us when we discovered we both had older kids at home. We may have exchanged matching necklaces that said BEST FRIENDS on complementary half-heart shapes. We were pretty excited.

Maybe I exaggerate, but the point is that when most people can't stop thinking (or talking) about the size of your family, encountering someone else who doesn't see anything unusual about it is a breath of fresh air. If you don't know any in person, find them online. (To my blog stalkers: I totally get you.)

3. If all else fails...


Interestingly enough, I found myself on the brunt end of more negative comments when I had 5 kids than I do now that I have 6.

I have a few theories about this. Maybe it's just harder now for strangers to reach me through the swirling mass of children, or maybe they've all collectively abandoned their efforts to talk sense into me after I went off the deep end and had a sixth baby.

Either way, if you're getting a lot of negativity you could always have one or two more and see what happens.

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15 comments:

  1. It's probably just more disbelief that someone can actually be successful with that many kids, which if they are all with you at one time, that's a huge success!! I am #6 of six but we spanned a gap of 17 years from oldest to youngest. Big families are very special to grow up in and I wish I could give that to my kids but I would literally lose my mind if I had another. Lol. More power to you.

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    1. Wait, we're supposed to stop BEFORE we lose our minds? It all makes so much sense now...

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  2. "You do you" is usually a pretty empty statement.

    After having one boy and then one girl (two years later), people labeled our family as "perfect" and "done." Two years later, another boy; two years after that, another boy.

    Just today, I was thinking about adoption and fostering. Some people like the idea of zero children and others like the notion of endless children. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

    My family is, in my opinion, a "good size." Had we had a different outcome, I hope I'd be able to affix the same "good size" label.

    To each his/her own.

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    1. You hit it, Jenna! Everyone has a good size family, no matter how many people are in it. Families are good. Period.

      We too have thought about fostering. We applied and started the process years ago when we had a few miscarriages and then couldn't get pregnant again, and I figured it was time. We found out we were pregnant on the day of our home inspection! That was 6 years ago.

      If I remember right, state law says foster kids can't be in a home with more than 6 kids total (counting foster plus biological kids) at the same time so it will be a good while before we can consider it again. But I would like to, someday.

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  3. If the only acceptable comment to a pregnant lady is "you look great, have a cookie and a seat" then the only acceptable comment to a mother with multiple children is "What beautiful children." Why people feel the need to comment in either instance anyway is beyond me.

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    1. As a mother of multiple children, I think I'd still like to hear "You look great, have a cookie."

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  4. "One child is okay, but kids need a sibling. We won't say anything if you stop there (that's a lie, we will,) but you really should have a second."

    THIS. So much this. Even though our lives our wildly different, you still get me. I love how much you inspire me to just be proud of who and what I am.

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    1. My good friend has one child and we laugh about how we get criticism from both ends, her and I!

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    2. AMEN! We have one child and we are STILL constantly asked if/when we'll have another... she's SEVENTEEN! Umm, no, I think we made our decision a long time ago! Can I also say how tired I am of the "only children are so spoiled!" line. Funny enough, they don't realize I was also an only child when they say this... SMH.

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  5. I needed this today Jenny! (Took my five, ages 1-9, swimming at an indoor. Oh the looks we got!) You are one of the internet families I admire. We live in a mostly college ward and there are no other large families of young children. Sometimes it is very lonely.

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    1. You are brave! Over the summer my 3 oldest had swimming lessons and the younger kids could swim during the lesson on the other side of the pool, so I took them all there every day for a week. I think my eye was twitching for a week afterward. It was so stressful trying to keep an eye on 3 kids who can't swim by myself!

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  6. I have 4 boys and people always think we kept going to get a girl. Although I'd love a girl, we would have still wanted 4 despite gender. I wanted my kids to have several siblings... big families are very special!

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  7. We've gotten some interesting comments after announcing that our second was a boy (after already having a girl). Jordan and I are both irritated to constantly keep getting a reaction along the lines of "you must be so happy! a boy and a girl. one of each! that's perfect!" We're like, we would have been really excited to have another girl too, people!

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    1. When people announce what they're having I usually say "Yay! A girl! Although if it were a boy I would be saying 'Yay, a boy!'" Babies are a gift regardless.

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