Monday, April 8, 2013

On having one's hands full

The things folks say to Mr. Blandings and I are pretty much what you'd expect.

Do you ever get any sleep?

I guess you're used to it.

How do you ever get anything done?

Do you live on a farm?

How old will you be when this one graduates?

I bet you never get any alone time.

Is this your last one?

You must really like kids.

Your house must be chaos.

It's typical stuff, and anyone with any number of children has probably heard it all before. I fall into the camp of believing that most of the people, most of the time, mostly mean well. Yes, I wish people wouldn't share their observations in front of my children. And yes, I've had a few less than WWJD moments where what came out of my mouth probably did more harm than good for the cause of large families everywhere.

But by and large, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Just as the people spouting the pithy-isms usually have no idea of where we've been and how we got here, I also rarely have more than a moment's glimpse into the full story of their lives. Assuming ill intent (or stupidity) is just plain unfair. 

And you know, some days I do have my hands full. So there's always that.

There are tons of blog posts, articles, and memes snapping back at the people who want to know if, you know, they're all yours. And they're funny stuff, if I do say so myself. Cute, snappy, "Man, I wish I had thought of that when ..." stuff. Having actually been asked if I had taken neighbor kids with me to the grocery store before, I do see the absurdity (and humor) inherent in being a large family in a small family world. Going out in public is often a foray into a potential minefield of dropped jaws, if you know what I mean.

But on a day to day basis, I don't go out into the world armed with comebacks. I don't look for opportunities to evangelize folks on the merits of more than one or two children. And, as someone who languished in a painful season of infertility and longing, I never, ever tell people that I am blessed or just following the Lord--because while it is absolutely true, the inferred connotation to others is that they are not blessed, and they are not following God. Try that zinger on for size and see how Christian it feels.

So what do I say? In the library, when someone has just stopped us in the video section and manually counted each one of my children, then pointedly asked if there are any more lurking in the stacks? Or as we're loading into the van, and someone slows down to gawk, then asks if I know what causes that? Or when a young lady beams at my baby and asks if he's my first, only to open her eyes wide as I give her the full head count?

What do I say?

I say yes.

And then I move on.

1 comment:

Of Wool and Loveliness said...

I loved this post!! I am really enjoying your blog. And yes, even though we have only five, we feel that this is what God wants us to do, and we are probably having more. I find that whatever those people say to me, or whatever I respond back with, a big smile always helps. It just diffuses the situation on both ends. And then usually I respond with something like this, "I have the best kids in the world." Even if they are grabbing stuff off the shelves and/or throwing fits. Since I started doing this the reaction I've been getting from people has really amazed me. They go from in many cases, judgemental, to well, 'pleased'.