Eric and I would like to have more kids (but this is not a pregnancy announcement!). Honestly. I really can't imagine never holding a newborn again and, besides, it just feels like our family is not complete yet; if we stopped having children now, it would always feel like someone is missing from our home.
But, even though we are open to life and sincerely hope that we are blessed with more children, I still have some fears about having another child. Some of the fears are silly or rather superficial and others require serious consideration.
1. As I've mentioned before, the big passenger vans scare me! Can I please have a boatload of kids without having to drive one of those humongous things?!
2. Each pregnancy is physically and emotionally getting harder. Nausea, exhaustion that lasts the entire nine months, pain!, difficulty sleeping, difficulty sitting, difficulty walking, difficulty breathing, you get the idea. The postpartum phase hasn't been the most fun either (I am much, MUCH better now, by the way!). These fears are real and I'm working them out through prayer, support from my husband and through trying to plan ahead and prepare for these difficulties before I get completely overwhelmed.
3. I think my biggest fear (and probably the least rational) is of the comments that people make to those of us with larger than average families.
I'm a shy and very non-confrontational person and I really don't know how to handle other people's rude, inappropriate or nosy comments. It seriously stresses me out!
For instance, the typical "Are you done yet?" question. When people ask this question, they usually only want to hear one answer: yes. You can see it in their eyes. Sometimes I want to give them their "yes" just so that will be the end of the conversation and then I can be left alone. But when I say, "Not necessarily" or "I don't know what God has in store for us" or even a vague "I don't know, we'll see," it throws them off and they get very uncomfortable and often very defensive about their own choices. Then I have to listen to long explanations about why they're "done" or how they're "done" or how insane it would be for them not to be "done." And, in the mean time I try to smile and nod and give the necessary "Oh..." or "Uh-huh" while trying to find an exit to this uncomfortable conversation.
The other reactions I get to my "No, we actually wouldn't mind having more kids" response are complete shock and they walk away in a stunned daze or I get the "Oh, that's right, you're a good Catholic" reply. I really don't know how to respond!
Then there are the people who don't ask me if I'm done, they tell me I'm done.
"You have four kids? You're done."
"Aww, you have 2 boys and 2 girls. You're done."
"What a beautiful family you have! You're done."
I'm on a bit of a role here so please hang with me as I continue.
Shortly after Clara was born, we were at mass and I had to take her to the bathroom for a diaper change. As I was finishing up a lady came in who I recognized as a Eucharistic minister but had never actually met. She obviously recognized me as well and started up a conversation.
"So, you had a little girl?" she asked.
"Yes!" I said as I held up my baby girl and beamed with motherly pride.
She goes on to say, "That's nice! You know, when I saw that you were pregnant I told my daughter 'Oh Lord! She's having another one!'"
I think my jaw completely dropped at that point and I didn't hear the rest of what she said. I mumbled some vague response and then got out of the bathroom as fast as I could!
I recently attended a talk by Cathy Garcia-Pratz, a Catholic author, speaker and mother of ten sons. She is a beautiful, faith-filled and wise woman. At the end of her talk I asked her how she dealt with people making comments about the size of her family.
Her response surprised me.
She says when people say mean or inappropriate things to her she looks them in the eyes and smiles and says, "What a tacky thing to say!" This way instead of her having to go on the defensive about the size of family God blessed her with, the rude person has to decide if they are going to defend their tacky comment. Maybe next time that person will think before speaking.
I have yet to call someone out for being tacky as I am usually too shocked, upset or uncomfortable to form any words of any kind. I really need to formulate a standard response so I don't feel so completely lost when I get dragged into these conversations, especially as our family continues to grow. My husband has all kinds of snarky comments that he's just itching to say, but people don't say these things to men. We women take the brunt of this verbal abuse.
Anyone have any suggestions, comments or stories of your own to share? I'd love to hear them!
P.S. Here's a example of one of Eric's snarky comebacks. A friend of mine was recently in the grocery store with her three young boys and an older woman came up to her, put her hand on her arm and said, "I'm sorry," referring to her three kids standing there in ear shot. My friend was shocked and more than just a little hurt at such a comment. When I told my husband the story he said my friend's comeback should have been, "You don't need to feel sorry for me. I've taught my children that it's inappropriate to say such rude things to strangers in public."