why I always look calm

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.


  1. says

    Well I hope you feel better now after that rant…sheesh you seem so stressed out…must be all those kids!

    Interesting point of view I would have never thought of. I will now be very careful around moms of many.

  2. says

    I’m always concerned in stores what people will think of me when my daughter acts up. I really think you have a good point; we shouldn’t care what other people think, no matter how many kids we have. We should all be supporting each other.

  3. Renee says

    I have never considered it that way, as I have 3 kids, not 9. But I guess you are right…There is a girl who went to high school with me, and she now has 7 children. She ALWAYS looks tired/irritated/stressed out, and if I’m brutally honest, I must admit that I have thought to myself. “Well, if she finds it so difficult, why doesn’t she stop having kids?” I hadn’t really thought about it from the point of you that you’ve expressed, so thank you for opening my eyes. Don’t you think, though, that there are some people who really shouldn’t be having large families – maybe they don’t have the right personality for it, the right support network or whatever…But if you’re constantly miserable and stressed, then might that not say something too???

    • says

      Yes!! Absolutely there are some personalities who are much better off with smaller families. And if you actually witness the same mom looking miserable and stressed out day after day after day, then yes…it probably is more than just her having a bad day.

  4. says

    I understand this. Even though I only have three, I heard lots of comments when they were younger. When I was wearing the baby in a carrier and pushing a double stroller with the other two. If anything went wrong, I’d hear that maybe I should have spaced out my kids more. So I tried to appear much calmer than I felt.

  5. says

    I have to smile at this because I had a conversation with a friend recently who commented about “all the fun things you do with your kids.” Um, like when? I am usually cranky, tired, and lazy, letting the tv be too much of their friend. There’s no telling what they’re watching sometimes; mommy needs a nap. But. Other people’s perceptions of our lives is usually wholly different from what we live. I doubt we purposely give the “always calm” attitude but you’re right; what’s there to be frazzled about when the kids aren’t here with me? And yeah, I’d guess it would be the opposite: people would assume you’d grown into your calm after having so many and me with just three shouldn’t be complaining.

  6. says

    I absolutely agree with you (I have 8 children) and I would like to add that we LOOK calm because we are more experienced and more mature than we were when we had 2 or 3 children. I was sooooo bewildered with two little ones. What was the first one going to do while I nursed the second? How could I carry them both to the car? Time and ingenuity have made me a problem solver and getting through hard situations gives me confidence. I AM calm because I know I’ve got this! And congratulations on your pregnancy by the way! I would love to have another and am so happy for you! You should have more children and not waste all your awesome calmness you’ve cultivated, right?
    Tracie Richey

  7. says

    I have one. And that’s a lot. But my husband came with two, so theoretically I have 3. Children meltdown. Whether you have 1 or 15 it’s still going to happen. You clearly have a happy husband, and the older ones can look after the younger ones (again… theoretically) so you’ve got it made, Hon!

  8. says

    Thank you thank you thank you for this post! I’m a mom of 5 children 9 and under and I find myself feeling the exact same way. Everyone always tells me how “put together and perfect” my family is- when at times (like right now) I just want to pull my hair out! I often tell my children “everyone is already staring at us because we’re 7, let’s not give them any reason to stare even more”.
    I believe every one of these children is a gift from God. At times I am challenged with bickering or 2 yr old meltdowns and feel like the barr is held higher for me. We planned to have all 5 of these childrenso, yes, I did this to myself (as many probably would say) but I am entitled to have a bad dayonce in awhile too! I’m terribly cautious to make sure I am always happy and perfectly calm.
    I’m curious to know how do you handle the comment from people who say “You’re Crazy”. I honestly hear that from EVERY person I meet. It baffles me how people can say that to me and I try to respond gracefully but sometimes my irritation shows.

  9. says

    Wow- I can’t thank you enough for this post. I’m a mom of 5 children, all under 9 yrs and often hear the comments of how “perfect and put together” my family always is. It makes me feel as if we’re not entitled to a meltdown because we’re held to a different standard than those with 2 or 3. Yes, we planned each pregnancy and “did this to ourselves” but that doesnt mean we’re going to be perfect all the time! I tell my children ” remember- everyone is already looking at us because we are 7 so lets not give them reason to stare at us more”. I guess I’m pushing my kids to meet the bar held by outsiders too :/
    I’m curious as to how you handle the comment that I hear each time I meet someone…”You’re Crazy”. Those words get under my skin but I try to be graceful and reply kindly. It would be so nice to reply “I might be crazy but you’re rude!”, but of course I dont….gotta be perfect! 😉

  10. says

    After reading this, all I could think is ‘I soooooo want to meet you’. Enjoy them, every minute, and those nasty stares you get ~ they don’t go home with you, so it just doesn’t matter what others think!!

  11. Anonymous says

    I have felt this way so often! I have 9 and maybe it’s just because I’m sensitive, but if a mom a fewer kids has a child that with a strong personality I feel like people say…”that mom has a child with a strong personality.” But when I have a child with a strong personality I feel like people say…”that mom has too many kids and clearly can’t manage that child well”. So I worry that any type of problems with my kids or disobedience, etc. is attributed to my bad parenting rather than the fact that this child would be a harder child for ANY parent. I am a mormon and one of our leaders once gave a talk about parenting. He said something to the effect that certain children would be a challenge to any parent – it was a good talk, I’ll send you the linke sometime if I can find it. Thanks for your post – it’s nice to not feel alone! -Sheryl

  12. says

    I found your blog through Kelle Hamptons Instagram feed. I’ve honestly never thought about it before but sitting here now I guess even if we do it sub-consciously we at some point or another have judged another mother. Whether it be because of the amount of children they have or how they choose to raise them. You wouldn’t believe some of the comments I’ve received from friends and family members because I’m strict on a bedtime with my son.

    Personally I admire women with large families. I wish I had the strength and energy!

    Liane x

  13. says

    I am responding to your comment on Erin’s blog, (Sunny Side Up.) I am Cathy. It warms MY heart to hear you say that. SO many people have asked, “Why would you keep it, if you had the chance to abort it.) IT!!!! It, is a baby. My response is the same thing you wrote in your comment. I truly believe that God gives, and God takes. We lost our young son to cancer. I am not going to lie. I asked God why. Now, I can honestly say. It was all for his Glory.

    Thank you for posting such a beautiful comment. We were so sad when we heard that the baby had this condition. However, we know that God will use him and his mommy and daddy for good,

    God Bless,

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