Im expecting my 7th and I look really young, so I get a lot of seemingly rude comments.
What I have realized over the years is that:
1.) People don't realize they are unoriginal and are not the first ones to ask these questions.
2.) The questions or comments aren't really that funny or witty to begin with.
3) Sometimes people are genuinely unable to wrap their brains around the concept of having a handful of kiddos, usually because of the brainwashing our media does to downplay parenting, marriage and pregnancy/childbirth in GENERAL and/or due to their own poor experiences with other parents who don't do a very good job at disciplining properly.
Some of the more common feedback I get from strangers is:
- "Don't you own a TV?"
- "Have you figured out how that happens, yet?"
- "These can't ALL be yours...."
- "How do you DO it?"
- "Are they all from the same dad?"
- "Are you even old enough to have 1?"
- "Are you done yet?"
What a lot of people don't realize is that what really is of poor-taste and is rude, coming from a complete stranger- is typical conversation on sitcoms. People really are training themselves that these things are funny, witty and acceptable to joke around with a complete stranger on and don't realize how tacky it is. You can almost see them waiting for the audience laughter at the end.
This is one reason I have patience for it most of the time. They just really are naive. I usually have an equally or better witty comeback to offset it, but more than anything I feel it's MY JOB to help educate these people that having a large family can be fun, enjoyable, fulfilling, and that it can almost extend your youth, even more. Pregnancy doesn't have to be the worst time of your life. You can actually look forward to your births, you can even enjoy parenting your kids and feel like you would enjoy more in the future.
Also, kids DONT have to be out of control maniacs. I can take my kids out to the store with me or out to eat. They aren't on a rampage, in other people's physical or audible space, neither are they perfect with flat smooth braids on either side of their heads walking in single file order with blank stares. They're giggling, making jokes about things, asking questions, figuring out things on their own, having conversations and there have been MANY times that a typical conversation between my kids and I grocery shopping have brought about spontanious laughter from aisles on the other sides of us. We are more or less a conundrum to the general public who is trained that large families are pure uncontained chaos.
The one thing I struggle with the most- isn't the public comments. It's the family judgements. My family does not understand how I do not feel 'done' yet and breaking the news-yet again- that I am pregnant is TEDIOUS. It's worse than birth. I have joked around many times that I will notify my family when the baby is born that I was expecting another, hahaha!
"But... don't you feel DONE yet, Jyn? WHY do you feel like you have to have another? Isn't (current number of the year) enough for you???"
This reaction has NOTHING to do with our ability to provide or our parenting skills and have everything to do with worldy standards that people hold themselves to. The financial responsibility of putting them through college, of paying for weddings, of this of that... it's unrealistic to us and we're happy without those expectations.
My kids do not need to all be in ballet, horseback riding and violin lessons every year to be well rounded. They do not need to have their whole college tuition payed for by mom and dad completely in order to be functional smart human beings. We do not need to provide them with 4-5 expensive Christmas presents every year to be satisfied individuals and sometimes the family can treat us like they have to make up for that themselves because we dont budget for it.
It's taken quite a bit for myself, personally, to get to the point where I can blow off their opinions as unimportant in our decision making, and just follow what OUR family is comfortable with. My husband is very very happy with our family and open to having as many as God blesses us with, as am I. We arent on a binge to beat the Duggars or have as MANY KIDS as possible before my fertility wears out. We just follow what feels natural and good for us, and we are a well rounded happy family. This doesn't mean that since I am having seven kids I expect EVERYONE to have seven kids- but I think that people need to be open to allowing others to have that pleasure in what is good.
I think each individual needs to search themselves and figure out what they really want. Other people outside our immediate family (husband's wives, etc) ARE outsiders, and as much as we can respect their opinion- we have the right to disagree and reject it because ultimately it is our choice as we decide the paths of our own family, to do what feels best for us.
Do remember that as you walk around and correspond with people, large family or not- you are helping other people form an opinion on large vs small families. Even with what little interaction you have, what contribution are you putting out- even if you initially are getting negative feedback? If your words were to resonate in the minds of everyone you talked to about childrearing and childbearing- what sort of imprint would you be making?