When I was pregnant with my third I was surprised at how many people in the suburbs were shocked, or who thought we would be moving (for more bedrooms). Having started our family in the city I just assumed all the big families I read about were IN the suburbs since there's just not enough real estate in the city for big families. By the time I was pregnant with my fourth (my sixth pregnancy) I had gotten used to the shocked expressions. I will not, however, get used to the people who treat us like we are a spectacle.
It's summer break so I have two choices: spend the summer sequestered in our home or go out with all four kids. I didn't have a large family to become a hermit so we go, and we go a lot. In the last week we have been to the doctor (twice), Target, our downtown and a bakery, as well as around the neighborhood and parks. This is a slow week for us (see doctors appointments) because the toddler has a sinus infection.
I have been shocked by the reactions and looks from some people. I mean we are not the Duggars-there are only 4 kids. We are not the Gosselins-using one of those preschool ropes to have the kids all stick together. In fact most of the time my two older kids are way out ahead of us opening doors or getting items for the cart. Occasionally the two year old I, well, she's a two year old and she expresses her displeasure for not getting what she wants.
I just want to remind people that we are not a reality show, but this is our reality and we love it. You can scoff, makes faces, chuckle, but it just says more about you. While we were in line at Target, the big kids were bagging items and I was arguing with a sick toddler to stay in the stroller, the women behind us was obviously irritated and angrily took all her stuff off the belt and moved to the next aisle over. In the end we were done and on our way out and she was still waiting to be rung up.
In contrast when we were in the parking lot a kind older woman asked if I wanted help to get the toddler out of the cart (since I was wearing the baby). The week before that another women at the grocery store offered to take my cart back and a man at a fast food place took our trays for us. So I know they're our good people out there. I hold on to those moments when I'm feeling judged.
I'm not asking for sympathy or hoping people will take pity on me and help out. I just want this to serve as a reminder that those are real people you sneer at. We chose this life and we love it. It may not have been what you would have chosen and that's okay we're all individuals living our life the best we can .The world would be a better place if we remembered that and just smiled at those we passed, even if we did think that taking four kids to a small bakery was a bit of a spectacle (with a double jogging stroller and two bikes I'm sure it was).
Just smile, and maybe hold the door.
Melissa is mom to 4 kids and 2 angels. She chronicles the sticky bits of motherhood at Peanut Butter in my Hair.
See more of Melissa's stories here.