If you have a large family, or if you grew up in one, you’ve heard them all! The things people say! Let me tell ya, sister… there is a time to smile and turn the other cheek, and then there is a time (when you’re pregnant with swollen feet, your back hurts, your head is throbbing, and the toddler is opening candy in the checkout line) when you just don’t want to allow someone to belittle you with their comments and feel smug about doing it! Sometimes you need a great comeback for those snotty comments about large families.
Here are some of my “favorite” (feel the sarcasm?) quotes that people say about my medium to large size family of seventeen, (click here for that story), and my answers to them. (Okay, maybe I haven’t actually said all these. I usually think of a snappy answer on the drive home! But I have definitely wanted to!)
Let’s begin with the quote above…
“Don’t you know what causes that?”
(Seriously, the most lame, tired, overused, ridiculous thing people say.) If I’m feeling gutsy, and I usually am, I reply with, “Yes! We know what causes it and we like it!” That usually gets a laugh, and reminds people that I’m human. You know, in case they mistook me for an alien or something. Another answer I have given, “No, would you like to explain it to me?” I said this to a woman with a seriously snotty complex once. She was looking at me like I was a wart, and her voice was dripping with disdain. My teenage daughter told me later that I should have said “Yes, and I’m clearly better at it! Need some tips?”
“You must run a daycare…”
“No, I don’t know these kids, they are stalking me! Please, go get help!” Nah, but that sure would be fun to say! I usually say something like, “Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week!”
“Are you Catholic?”
I have Catholic friends, whom I love! So no slight to Catholic people, I just don’t happen to be one. I usually just smile and say no. I have a friend who came from a family of seven kids. Whenever someone asked her mom this question, she retorted, “No, we just really like to have sex!” I have another friend who is a mom of eleven. She is frequently asked if they are Mormon, usually on a Sunday when they are all dressed up. Nobody has ever assumed we were Mormon, probably because my husband and most of our boys have a severe aversion to wearing ties! Ha! Of course, it could also be because my husband is Native American… and well… doesn’t really look Mormon.
“Are they all yours?“
It never fails, I get this question when I have only part of my tribe with me… you know, like seven or eight. Some people are sweet, and they ask with a smile on their faces. To those people I give a sweet answer, maybe a simple yes or maybe I explain that there are more. Depends on if I think they are genuinely interested. But when I run across someone wearing a look of disgust, I like to shock ’em just a little…”No, not ALL, this is only half of them.” SO MUCH FUN!
“Wow, you have your hands full!“
The really funny thing about this one is, people say it to me when I have as few as three kids with me! Three! The little voice in my head says, “You have no idea!” The voice coming out of my mouth says “Yes, and I love it!”
“You need to get a TV!“
I have heard that a ton! I have been pregnant 15 times, so really, that only proves that we have been “intimate” 15 times. In 25 years. Amazing. But whatever. My answer (at least in my head), “If you think watching tv is better than sex, you’re not doing it right!”
“How many are you going to have, anyway?“
Ummm… A. NONE of your business. B. None of YOUR business. C. None of your BUSINESS. (Too much?) Seriously, though, nobody can control how many kids they will have. (Only complete abstinence equals no pregnancy.) They can try, but trying doesn’t mean succeeding. Ask any mama who has struggled with infertility. Ask any woman who has had a tubal and ended up pregnant with twins. (Yes, rare but possible.) I usually say, “I don’t know, ask God.”
The most awful thing anyone has ever said to me, was years ago after my seventh baby. At a family reunion, my mom’s cousin, who changed her given name to “Hippy Breezes” or something like that, verbally assaulted me. Hippy Breezes said in front of me and everyone else, “Barb, just how many kids is your daughter going to have anyway? She can’t possibly afford them. She is harming the planet with overpopulation!” There was more, but I’ve blocked it out. It was designed to humiliate me in front of the group, dehumanize me by not speaking directly to me, and worse, degrade my children as though they were cockroaches.
Even now, fifteen years later, I can feel the weight in my chest at the way she spoke of my babies. As calmly as I could, I told her, “God isn’t going to give me any children that He doesn’t want me to have. And since He is the one who created the earth, I think the planet will be okay.” I wish I had told her that my children are not cockroaches. I wish I had told her that my children were smart, talented, caring human beings who would be the solution to the problems of the world, not the causes of them.
Hippy Breezes did me a favor, though. Before that day, I was too easily offended and discouraged by the comments of others. After that, I recognized the difference between amused or curious comments by people just making conversation, and actual hostility. It forced me to put on my big girl pants, and understand that I can’t let what other people think of my family bring me low. I didn’t have these kids for anyone else’s approval. I had them because God blessed me with them. What God calls a blessing is a blessing, and they are my greatest joy this side of heaven. The Hippy Breezes of the world cannot change that.
For the most part, I find that the way people see us is largely up to me! I do my best to demonstrate joy when I am out and about. I try to be polite and friendly to everyone I see. An angry, frustrated, defeated woman with a bunch of kids is not a pretty sight. A happy, calm woman with children is another thing. (Read 8 Steps to Selfcare for Overwhelmed Moms.) I train my kids to behave themselves in public too. When the outside world sees clean, mannerly, well behaved kids, they react differently than when they see a mob of dirty brats. I don’t want to contribute in any way to the awful stereotypes people have about large families. I would much rather change their minds! But if I can’t, I will just keep enjoying my awesome family. I love them all so very much!
I would love to hear some of the things people to say to your large family! And large is in the eye of the beholder, I know families with three kids get these comments too. So whatever your family size, let me hear ’em in the comments below! Click here to subscribe to Made to Be Mom. Hugs, mama!