“You poor thing!” 25 Reasons not to pity me and “all those kids”

Lately I’ve been going on morning walks with the kids.  The “carrot” that gets them out the door quickly is a stop at the park if they’re ready to go by a certain time.  It gets me out of the house, gets the kids’ blood pumping (they usually ride bikes, scooter, or skate) and allows me to sneak in some prayer time while we walk.

It’s also a daily practice in humility.

Last week a grandmother gave me the third degree about why I have “so many kids” and why I “bother” homeschooling.  Truly, I think she was just curious, but maybe somebody should talk to her about her tone of voice.  I smiled and did my best, though, and by the time we left the park, she waved and smiled back.  Today, though, a mom with one toddler said 2 sentences to me.

Her: Are they all yours?

Me, smiling: Yep!

Her: Oh, you poor thing.

I didn’t even know how to respond.  I’m only good with snarky comebacks when I’ve had a few hours (to gather wit) and a glass of wine (to gather my courage). I’d had neither at 8:37 a.m. (and 24 weeks pregnant) so I just smiled vaguely at her and started chatting with my kids while I drifted a comfortable distance away.

That was the second or third time in a week that people have worried I’m being oppressed by my family size. And while I know I should probably not care, it bothers me a whole hell of a lot because I am most certainly not.  Oppressed, I mean. In fact, mostly what I say to strangers who pity me is that I feel wholeheartedly and supremely blessed.

Since I was tongue tied today at the park, I started mentally compiling a list of all the reasons you most certainly should not feel sorry for me with “all those kids.”

SONY DSC

  1. I like being pregnant. But even if I didn’t…
  2. I like babies. But even if I didn’t…
  3. I like kids. But even if I didn’t…
  4. I like people. And they are all my people, and pretty damn awesome people at that.
  5. I’m blessed with fertility that others long for with all their hearts. I do not take this for granted.
  6. I have a built in fan club.
  7. I’ve got people to talk to, laugh with, laugh at, and enjoy at any time of the day.
  8. I cannot stress this one enough: having 5 (soon to be 6!) kids isn’t like having your first kid 6 times.  It’s so. much. easier with the confidence of experience and the blessing of additional willing hands around.
  9. Sometimes when I’m walking across a parking lot with my kids I mentally go slow-mo and imagine gansta rap playing in the background.  Me and my entourage, yo.
  10. My body is unburdened by contraceptive hormones, implants, or latex.  And my romantic life is fantastic, thanks for asking. 😉
  11. I get to see my parents and in-laws as grandparents. And wow, is that ever cool.
  12. I’m naturally selfish; every day I get to work at being selfless.
  13. I’m naturally lazy; every day I get a little better at being hard-working.
  14. I’m naturally stubborn; every day I’m challenged to compromise and be flexible.
  15. I get to read books to them!  Like, like all the time!
  16. I get to curl up and read my own books, because that’s “setting a good example.” (Don’t mind if I do!)
  17. I get to learn everything they learn and not feel dumb about not knowing it already.
  18. Smiles: I get them in spades.
  19. Tears: I get to wipe and kiss them away. It makes me feel super-heroic.
  20. Hugs and kisses: all day long.  Sticky though they may be, they are equally as sweet.
  21. Have you heard kids tell jokes? The. Best.
  22. When I get old I’ll have lots of places to visit and hopefully lots of grandbabies to kiss and hold.
  23. Some people think I am awesome.  My kids, yes, but also lots of strangers too.  I cannot even count the number of older people who’ve stopped me to tell me what a beautiful family I have.  How my kids remind them of their siblings, or of their own children. Not gonna lie: sometimes it makes me teary-eyed.
  24. Each of my kids is a completely unique person, with his or her own quirks and personality.  Our family would not be complete without any one of them. There’s a church in our town with a big red sign that says “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.  God is still speaking.” I think of that in terms of my family all the time. {Gianna, Aliya, Gabriel, Ezekiel, Rosalie, Dutch,…}
  25. These people.  These small humans.  They don’t need a reason to exist.  Their very existence is good in and of itself.  Nevertheless, I am blessed by their existence, and by the love of my husband that brought them into being with me.

Before you ask, no, we do not live in a perfect house.  The kids argue and fight, stuff gets broken, I lose my temper… it all happens. But it doesn’t make it worse that I have more kids.  It makes me better at handling those things. Better at saying I’m sorry, better at letting go of small stuff, better at loving and forgiving and noticing what is really important. Practice makes perfect, after all.

Really, please don’t feel sorry for me.  I’m not trapped by the number of kids I have, I’m blessed by them.  My hands are full, but so is my heart.  Overflowing, in fact. And I wouldn’t trade my family for anything.

Comments

  1. Love!

    I’ve been finding that my big (and growing!) family often makes other people feel guilty that they chose to have a small one. I get comments about it all the time. “I would have had a lot of kids but…my husband wasn’t on board…they are expensive…we don’t have a big house…I don’t have the patience…etc.” I’m like “It’s OK!! I don’t choose to have a big family to make you feel bad! To each their own!!” So my point is that maybe some of these mean-spirited comments aren’t truly about how you’re living life, and more about the regrets they may have. Keep on keeping on with your joyful attitude and amazing family 🙂
    Colleen Martin recently posted…The ULTIMATE Easter Basket Giveaway (Ten prizes!)My Profile

    • I’d agree with this. I have two. There’s a bit of me that would of LOVED to have had a bigger family. (I suspect it’s why I lurk amongst these blogs) I don’t make snarky comments because I’m generally a sensitive person but I do think the snarkiness can come from jealousy. Even when you are happy with the decisions you’ve made, there can be moments of ‘What if!?”. For some people, that moment of “What if?” can be prompted by seeing a big family tumble out of a big car. And they don’t like the feeling, and they something stoopid! So sometimes the comments come from other’s regrets and sometimes the comments come from other’s “What ifs”. And whilst 8 is true, sometimes I think the comments are from a struggling parent who can’t imagine themselves having the fortitude and skills necessary to parent more kids then they currently have.

  2. Love your family and your mama heart! It’s just so strange to me how people say things like this. We just had our third and all of a sudden have been pushed into the Big eyes + “you sure do have your hands full” group. Pretty sad really. I just don’t know when family size became something groups of people felt so uncomfortable by. The more surpassing comments to me come from those that are from big families and are still experiencing the fruits of their sibling relationships! I see their love and friendship and its beautiful!
    Amanda recently posted…mommyhood // a birth story for dandelion – part twoMy Profile

  3. Huzzah! What a beautiful post, Micaela!
    Bonnie recently posted…Best of the WebMy Profile

  4. Lolodeedee says:

    Amen!

  5. Oh, you are the BEST! I love this!

  6. Tara Seguin says:

    I’ve found the perfect answer to comments of pity or concern or disapproval over my family size: “You’re kidding, right?” It’s reasonably polite, works as a one-off or a conversation-starter as the case may be, and it’s always handy on the tip of my tongue. 😀 😀

  7. #9!! And #25, too.

    I can’t believe someone would comment so negatively about a beautiful family. I can see, “Wow, you must be so busy!” or “You have your hands full,”– neither are great, but neither are inherently negative.

    “You poor thing” implies your being a victim to all.these.kids.

    I’d add a #26, after being all alone in my house for the evening last night, “There’s always precious, life-affirming NOISE!” =)

  8. This is a beautiful post! 😍
    Nicole Lockhart recently posted…Gettin’ Our Learin’ OnMy Profile

  9. This is simply beautiful! Thank you for expressing my sentiments exactly. Love it!

  10. I love your perspective on life and your so well spoken. I live the reason about commas meaning Gid has more to say! So powerful! I can’t wait to meet Dutch!

  11. I completely understand! We have 10, and having a comma not a period is wonderful. Won’t lie, when everyone is sick and I’m tired, the comma is a little scary. It’s worth it, though. I love every one of our kids. Each so different yet with overlapping characteristics that they share with my husband, me, and each other! God bless!

  12. People really amaze me sometimes. I would NEVER think to ask someone if the kids with them are all theirs or even care one way or another. You should have told the lady you were sorry she only had the one! Poor woman with her one lonely child. Lol.
    I always looked at your mom and though she was an amazing woman. Never once did I feel sorry for her. I can’t imagine anyone thinking any differently about you!

  13. I love this list!

  14. Amen! I got chills reading your list. Love it very much!

  15. I am the oldest of six kids. (We are two girls and then four boys.) I may have thought that we were a “larger than average” family, but thinking about it, I would not give up any of my siblings. At times I’ve thought, “If only we were a few less”, but then I think, who would I be wanting to give up? My sister, my built-in best friend? My three brothers who are professional musicians and have enriched numerous lives with their work? My youngest brother who is studying to become a police officer so he can help people and save lives?

    Coincidentally my husband is also the oldest of six – two girls and four boys!

  16. Woa. I TOTALLY get what you mean, people feel sorry for me all the time…I swear my favorite joke is from this crazy catholic dude with like 5 kids that says tell me one more time….”oh poor you. You must have your hands full…” Naaaahhh really, really?? As If I am not living with them. Is like telling a handicapped person…”oh you poor thing, you must not be able to dance since you can’t walk.” Come on!! boy oh boy. Do not state the obvious. Sometimes I feel like saying, “yes so if you please don’t mind could you do me a favor quit your criticism and help with one”… Bahahaha. Sorry I am a bit ghetto.

  17. Nailed it!! Excellent post.
    Heather recently posted…Thanksgiving for AdventMy Profile

  18. So, so beautiful! I could read it over and over! Thank you, you beautiful, blessed Mother!

  19. Great post!
    Joanne recently posted…7QTs – Turtle Shells, Pinkalicious, Baby AMy Profile

  20. #1 on my list as to why NOT to pity me: Because its just condescending (thank you feminists!).

  21. I so so love no.9.

  22. Yes x 25. Better too many than not enough.
    Kendra recently posted…Pro-Life is Complicated, and How You Can HelpMy Profile

  23. I love the gangsta, posse image you have with your kids in the parking lot! That is awesome. Plus, you always have someone to return the cart for you. 🙂

  24. “all those kids”…I thought maybe you had eleven or twelve….

  25. Lisa DeLisio says:

    I just love you (and all your kids), Micaela!

  26. Thank you for this! As I sweat through Clomid hot flashes, it’s nice to know that (despite only having one child that I know of; hopefully there’s a really tiny one I haven’t found out about yet) other people value the comma instead of the period. Being open to life is often very frustrating for me (if I want a big family, why is it so difficult?), but it is so nice and refreshing to see the perspective of people with big families. And thank you for being so openly grateful for your fertility; I’m not jealous; I am glad that there are people in this world/society/day in age who value that gift. 🙂

  27. What a great read! Bonus #26 When you’re 90 you’ll have a lot of hands to help take care of you! 🙂

  28. Great post! I have 4 under Age 6 right now so I’m used to the comments and questions too. My favorite one is “wow, what do you do in your free time?!” To which I give a good laugh:)

  29. As a comeback to “Are those all yours? You poor thing.” how about, “I was just thinking the same thing about you, having only one!”

    Let people think what they want. Life is very short. My mom had six. Her sister had two. Once her kids were grown, my aunt’s house was empty and lonely.

    One day my aunt was visiting my mom (from another city) and all of us, all grown up with our own places, except the youngest (a young adult still living at home), were in and out all day long. My aunt told my mother, oh, how I envy you having them all in and out and all around you. So, it’s like a bounty. It’s hard when they’re young, but the payoff really is when they are grown up. And it never seemed like too many. I think my mom would have had more except she began to have problems with her ovaries and bleeding (it was the late ’50’s), and they feared it was the beginning of cancer, so she had to have a hysterectomy.

    Everyone I know who limited their family size, now that they are grandparents, voices some regret. They know they could have done more. They wish they had more children to relate to now. For those that had only one or two, they think back and know they weren’t so strapped that they couldn’t have had one or two more children. I don’t think you’ll ever be sorry.

    Isn’t it too bad that the culture got to so many woman with the message that having many children was a really bad thing to do on many levels? And using public shaming to contradict those who ignore that message?

  30. Coming from a large family myself, I understand the appeal. At the same time, we are living in a world that is quickly becoming overpopulated. Perhaps, we need to take a step back and consider the consequences for each and every one of our children when there is too many total children in the world at a time when access to basic needs in other parts of the world can not be met. I find it irresponsible to have more than a couple. Adoption is an alternative. Especially for those people that are pro-life.

    • Hi Don,

      Thank for taking the time to comment. Respectful disagreement is always welcome here. 🙂

      I agree that adoption is a beautiful option, and I have many family members and friends who are in my life as a result of that choice.

      I would encourage you to research the history and (faulty) science behind the theory of overpopulation. Among the causes of poverty cited by the World Health Organization, overpopulation does not even make the list. A good place to start research would be the website Overpopulation is a Myth, which has helpful videos and links to many scientific resources.

      Thanks again for taking the time to respond respectfully. I hope you have a great day.

  31. What a heartwarming post! I’m a mother of six and agree wholeheartedly with all of the above.
    Now that my nest is emptying, there are some other reasons I have noticed about the large family:

    1. Many hands make light work. While yes, there are more dishes, more potatoes to peel and all that, we also never had to work alone. For example, with a double sink, two washed dishes, two dried dishes, one swept the floor, and we were done quickly. I MISS that!

    2. The house is never empty. There’s always someone home when you need them. There’s comfort in that.

    3. If one person is too busy for you, there’s always someone else in the family available.

    4. Sharing and compromise are simply a way of life. We’re very adaptable.

  32. As a fellow Mama of 6 (I work now after 8 years at home and my Rockstar husband stays home and homeschools them like a boss), I echo this sentiment. Keep your chin up! Also, thanks for the laugh with the entourage!
    Stephanie Potter recently posted…Homeschool for a DayMy Profile

  33. Now every time I read your blog I will be hearing gangsta rap in the background. Something about baby wearing always looks gangster to me.

    #26: your children always have someone to play with
    #27: the number of children you have, many, few, or none, does not determine the value of your life
    #28 because Jesus and the Angels rejoice over every life, God can’t ever have too many children and neither can I.
    #29 although chaos may be the norm, there is so much joy in the midstof messy sticky kids

  34. Great post Micaela! Awhile ago I was at a store with all or most of my kids (now that I have older kids, I’m rarely out with all of them at the same time) and a guy behind the register asked if they were “all mine”. Cheerfully, I said, ” Yes!” And his reply was like this post and baffled me….he immediately said, “I’m sorry.” Ugggh… After I got over his not needed, senseless comment I just asked why he was sorry and told him never say that again. I could have said alot more and made alot more sense, but he completely shocked me with his comment!
    Tracy Bua Smith recently posted…Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday: 2016My Profile

  35. shouting a great big “AMEN!!!” here 🙂 you put a smile on my face this morning – thank you so much for sharing this – love your list, especially #24. I just might print this out and keep it handy to read over again when having a particularly trying day.
    Blessings to you and your little entourage!
    Linda S recently posted…Hearts for Home Blog Hop 2.11.16My Profile

Trackbacks

  1. […] yesterday I kind of, sort of blew up my tiny corner of the internet.  Nothing like the big blogs, but I had more hits (and comments!) on my post yesterday than […]

  2. […] “You poor thing!” 25 Reasons not to pity me and “all those kids!”: California to Korea […]

  3. […] You Poor Thing!” 25 Reasons Not to Pity Me and “All Those Kids” by California to Korea […]