It’s inevitable. Going to to the store with even half of my kids will get me looks and comments from well-meaning, and not so well-meaning, onlookers. There are people that are genuinely curious and then there are people that think they’re being clever. As if I’m oblivious to underhanded or passive-aggressive comments.
I have nine kids, so going anywhere with even four or five of them becomes somewhat of a circus. For myself and others. I know it’s rare to see one person with so many kids. I know it incites curiosity, maybe a little intrigue, maybe a little anger. Heck, there might even some awe. My kids are outrageously cute.
I get stopped all of the time, and it’s the same comments over and over. I know I’m busy and have my hands full. I know what causes babies, and while this isn’t any of your business, yes, they all have the same father.
Let me be clear. Honest questions, misguided jokes, and genuine curiosity don’t make me mad. Even when it’s repetitive. I don’t mind strangers striking up a conversation about the number of kids I have. And I’m not the type to get worked up when snide comments are made, or after being stopped for the tenth time while trying to corral a fussy two-year-old. I can ignore the concerned looks and sideways glances.
However, there are two issues that I will go to battle over (in my head, since I’m not confrontational at all) because people don’t realize what they’re saying.
First, stop with the pity. I don’t want to hear the “You poor thing, I hope those kids give you a break,” or “I could never have that many kids, I would go insane” type of remarks. My children are not a reason for you to pity me, and I don’t want my kids to think they’re anything less than exactly what I want and need in my life.
Never make my children sound like a burden or something I need relief from while they are standing next to me. Ever.
Yes, more often than not, I am overtired and running on empty like every other mom.
Yes, I could use a break. Taking kids shopping? Not relaxing. So yeah, I’m already done by the time we walk through the doors.
But I never want my kids to think for even one second that they cause me too much stress or that I’d be better off without them around. Kids are smart. They hear those comments and take them to heart. They don’t want their mom to be sad or worn out. They certainly don’t want to be the cause of it.
Life is tiring. Adulting is beyond draining. I’d be running around like mad whether I had kids or not. Who isn’t busy? Who doesn’t have their hands full? I’m no superhero. I’m doing exactly what any other person would do. Honestly, probably less effectively than others because I’m not very organized. I get things done, but certainly not all of the things, and they aren’t done well.
And to anyone who thinks they would go nuts with a bunch of kids? No you wouldn’t. You would love each one more than anything. Each child brings a unique depth to your life that you would never want to do without. You would push through the hard times because that’s what mothers do. Just like labor, you go through it because you have to, even though it sucks and you want to die. And then, like magic, it’s all erased when you take that little person into your arms. That momentary discomfort no longer matters.
I’m a better person because of my kids, not in spite of them. Every ounce of utter exhaustion is worth it, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. If you still feel the need to pity me, keep it to yourself.
Second, it’s not okay to assume people need opinions on their family size. Couples with no kids fall under the same radar as large families, and are hit with relentless questions and advice: “When will you start trying for a baby?” “Don’t wait too long; your biological clock is ticking.” “You would make a great mother! You should have kids!”
For some, these questions and implications are heartbreaking. Many women are trying to get pregnant and want children more than anything. Every month they face the pain of a negative pregnancy test, and each time it hurts just as badly as the last.
Desperate, their lives become full of countless doctor visits, precise timing, and every trick under the sun from sound medical advice to old wive’s tales. And despite the hollowness inside, they put a smile on and go about their business with strength and determination. Until someone decides to twist the knife by making an ignorant comment. A few words can bring a cascade of emotions: fear, disappointment, anger, discouragement, grief.
Others have decided to wait to have kids, and some decide to not have kids at all. Health, finances, life, and personal preferences are just a few of the factors taken into consideration. But guess what? Other people’s opinions are not one of those factors.
See a mom with kids? I don’t care if there’s one or two or ten. Assume she enjoys them and give her — and her kids — a warm smile and encouraging word. Can’t muster that up? Fine. Walk on by and pretend you don’t see them.
See a woman without kids? Remember that you don’t know her battles and refrain from sharing your thoughts on why she should have children.
Life is hard enough without the judgment of onlookers. Let’s extend grace to each other instead of an onslaught of personal preferences.
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