Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Large Family Stigma

Camille goes to Tiny Tots Ballet.  She loves it.  She is a born natural.  Dancing around the house constantly.  Making up her own routines.  She eagerly asks when "dance day" is.  Every. Single. Morning.

As I left her in the studio today, I made my way up to the “parents waiting room”.  A small room with 6 or so chairs and a couple of toy boxes.  I took my spot on one of the chairs and settled in for a hour of reading my book.  I smiled at a couple of the other mums and joined in a brief conversation and was then asked the dreaded question.  “How many children do you have?”

It is a question that defines us as mothers.  I held up my hand, my whole hand, and sheepishly said “Five.”  The gasps were deafening.  I looked around the room.  Pure shock  was written all over their faces.  “Oh. My. God.  Are you crazy?” asked one of the mothers.  I smiled, unable to think on my feet of an answer.  I don’t know these mothers.  I knew I was going to spend half and hour or so in this room with them every week, so I didn’t want to “snap”.

Another mother, pregnant with her 3rd and 4th child said “Well, I guess I am only 1 behind you, but we only planned 3.  Did you plan 5?”  “Yes” I quietly replied, not really wanting to go into the details with a bunch of women I don’t know.

I already knew what they were thinking.  I have heard it too many times.

According to society, I must be either stupid, a slut, doing it for the money or a combination to have this many children.  Nobody in their right mind would have, yet alone plan and want five children.  Too many times I lunge straight into my standard spiel, quickly telling them that all FIVE are to my husband of 14 years -  making sure they knew that my eldest was only 12, subconsciously making them aware that I didn’t get married just because I was pregnant.  That is a whole other conversation.  Why do people assume that the only reason I got married at 20 was because I was pregnant?
These days I choose to smile and just answer yes or no to the stupid and rude questions including:

“Wow!  You’ve got your hands full, don’t you?”  Ya think?  What is your point?

“Don’t you know what causes it?”  Seriously?  How do you want me to answer this question?  It is just plain rude.

“Are they all from the same father?”  Another extremely rude question.  What are you implying?

 “Don’t you have a TV?”  Seriously.  I get this one DAILY.  All.  The.  Time.

“Have you had enough yet?”  Not that our decision on having a family is any business of yours, but yes, we have decided that 5 is our number.  That said… if we wanted more, we would go ahead and have more and there is nothing you can say that would change our minds.

Unfortunately the amount of people asking rude and disrespectful questions, far outweigh the lovely comments that I do receive.  What I don’t understand is people motives for asking such questions.  No matter the answer it is none of your business, and my answer is much more of a story than the quick answer you are after.

Next time you see a mother (or father) with a bunch of children, either mind your business and keep your stupid questions to yourself (and be assured, she has heard them all before) or just smile politely and move on.

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