Whenever I go to an adult gathering without the kids and I meet someone new, I always get the same comments when they find out that I have nine children. Of course, it’s not like I wear a sign on my forehead that says, “I have nine children.” but at one point or another someone will introduce me and say, “….and she has NINE children.” and then the person’s jaw will drop. “NINE? Did you say NINE?” and then the person will look at me and say, “You really have NINE children?” and I will nod my head and say “Yes.” and then she will say, “But you look so calm!!!”
Seriously, the #1 comment I get:
“But…you look so CALM!!”
((to which I always reply, “Well of course I’m calm. They aren’t here with me!”))
Then everyone giggles at my little joke … and the conversation continues.
Calm? Well, I guess I do look calm at an adult gathering. But who doesn’t? I mean, who comes to an adult gathering looking stressed out and frazzled? So I still really don’t understand why people say that to me. My kids aren’t with me, so yes I am calm at an adult gathering. Big whoop. But people who know me will shake their heads and say, “No…you are ALWAYS calm, even with all the kids around you. You are just that way.”
No, I am not just that way. I can get stressed out and angry and yell and lose it with my kids just like the next mom. But see, I don’t ever, ever lose it in front of anyone. Not at the grocery store. Not at Costco. Not at the mall. Not at a social gathering. Never. Because if I do, well, people can be harsh. People will think or even say, “Well, she shouldn’t have had so many if she can’t handle it.” I can see around me; I know the looks.
I learned this lesson early on, when I only had 4 or 5 kids. People are much harder on those moms with a large family than they are of say, a mom with two or three children. We are held to a higher standard because we chose to have many children. Don’t believe me? Well, if a mother with two young children looks stressed out or tired in the grocery line as her wee little ones are having meltdowns, well then that’s just motherhood, right? This mom will get the sympathetic glances that say, “I know how you feel. Hang in there, mama.” But a mom with five or six children in line at the grocery store? It’s completely different for us moms-of-many. I have to be the happy mommy all the time with very well behaved children. If one or two of my wee little ones have a meltdown and I appear impatient, tired and irritable, believe me when I tell you that I do not get the same looks of sympathy and understanding. Instead, I get looks that say “Goodness…look at all those children. No wonder she can’t handle them. Why did she have so many if she is so miserable?” My temporary look of frustration and impatience will be mistaken for “misery” and an inability to handle my large brood.
And I’m sorry, but I think that’s unfair. Any child under the age of three (or four) can be tired and cranky and have a meltdown in line at the grocery store. My children are no exception to this. And if moms of 2 or 3 children can get tired , stressed out and irritable due to the demands of motherhood, then why not a mother of 9? Can’t we moms-of-many have bad moments, too? Aren’t we allowed that? Where’s my look of sympathy when my kid is having a meltdown? I’m telling you, I don’t get that. I get the opposite.
So yeah, I guess I do appear to be calm all the time. I’ve trained myself to keep it all under control when I’m in the presence of others. I smile. I don’t lose my temper. I’m the cool, calm, unstressed mom who can handle anything and nothing bothers me. Yep, that’s me. And that’s okay that people think that. That’s what I need them to think so that I’m not judged harshly on my choice to have more than four children. Because believe me, so many out there love to judge.
And I could lie and say that I don’t care what others think. But the truth is, sometimes I do.