As a mom of young children close in age, I often get comments on my little brood when we are out and about. I was “normal” when I was pregnant with my first, so most of the comments were encouraging.
When expecting my second I got a different reaction. I got pregnant when my first was 5 months old, so it was assumed that my second was an “accident”. People said we were crazy. I had complete strangers stop me in the grocery store and tell me that I was going to regret having them so close, “my children were 16 month apart and I thought I was going to die”, or “you should have your tubes tied the minute the second baby is born, after 2 that close together you aren’t going to want anymore” The positive comments usually ran along the lines of “Now you’ll be able to get them out of the house early, they will both be off to school around the same time”
After my second was born, comments were more polite again. Lots of admiration of my adorable children. (Not that I’m biased in that opinion at all!) And as always telling me how busy I must be.
When I got pregnant with my third child, people were surprised. Hadn’t I learned my lesson the first time? Did I really want to put myself through all of that again? Was I getting pregnant so fast on purpose? Well, maybe we were still trying for that boy. I guess its best to get it over with early and get on with your life.
But the one that has topped them all (so far) is the diatribe I received while shopping seven months pregnant with my third.
I had taken my toddlers to the store for groceries by myself. They were really good the whole trip (two hours of me dragging around that heavy cart), so I was surprised when our checkout lady turned out to be a really interesting piece of work!
I got up to the checkout lane and the middle aged woman asked “Are they both yours?”(Meaning the girls)
“Yep” I reply.
“So how many will you have total?” (She nodded toward my belly)
I said “This will be my third”.
She said “Oh, that’s nice, 3 is a good number.” (So far, so good, I get this all the time.) Then she continued.
“A good number to stop at.” (OK, where is this going?)
“I think it’s a shame how people have to many kids that they can’t take care of. I know this lady who comes to the store who keeps popping out a kid every year. And I keep asking her why the father of her kids isn’t providing for them since she gets so much welfare every month. It’s disgusting how people take advantage of the system and have seven kids and rip off the rest of us taxpayers.” (Um, is she saying that those kids shouldn’t be fed? And doesn’t she realize that even if this lady is on welfare, most of her seven kids will be taxpayers someday?)
I was just standing there with my mouth open at this point; I had no idea what to begin to say, she was basically warning me not to have anymore kids. And this was a woman I had never met before.
Then believe or not, she continued!
“And my friend I was telling you about (Friend? Um, she must be using that term really loosely! ) She’s always saying stuff like ‘oh it must be nice to be able to buy ‘xyz’’, and I always tell her that if she would stop mass-producing kids and get a job like the rest of us then she could afford to support her kids and buy the stuff that she wants.”
(At this point I was just thanking God that I was paying for my groceries with cash. I would have hated to have to whip out welfare after that spiel!)
I still didn’t know what to say. I was shocked to be getting this lecture in the first place, and I felt that it wouldn’t do any good to say something anyways. I dread to think what she would have said to me if I had come up the line with six or seven little kids! Or if I had told her that I come from a family of eleven kids and I’m not planning on “being done”. It even seemed as though she was disgusted by stay-at-home moms. I imagine the comments are only going to get worse as our family grows!
Also, I’ve never had to be on welfare, but you never know what kind of life circumstances make it necessary! I am more than happy that my taxpayer dollars also go to things like feeding children, instead of just funding Planned Parenthood or whatever. Is it just me? Or is anyone else completely baffled by this mindset? I felt like I should have said something, but what?
What do you say when people feel the need to educate you in the way they expect you to live?