Friday, July 24, 2015

Comments to Mothers of All Boys

Consider this your warning: this post will be different… this will be a venting post, but hopefully also an informative and ultimately encouraging one.  Below, you will find my thoughts on the rude and insensitive remarks people feel free to make to me when they realize I have this many children, that they are ALL boys, and that this baby growing inside of me is NOT a girl (I know most people don't really mean any offense, but I still feel the need to get this out there).

As anyone who has had a baby knows, pregnancy (or even adopting I hear) brings out the CRAZY in other people.  They feel they have permission (I'm not sure from whom) to ask or to say whatever they want about your body, about your unborn baby, about your family planning, etc.  The opinions people shared when I was pregnant with twins were also extremely absurd.  But that is another post...

Here are the two most popular comments I get and my staple answers I give in attempt to add some levity but also point out the truth that my children are blessings:  

1.  Stranger: You poor thing… you have your hands full! 
Me: Yes I do, in the best possible way!

2.  Stranger: You sure are outnumbered! 
Me: I love these boys, and what’s more, I get to be the Queen!

But add in another pregnancy and hormones or just months of these comments accumulating, and the result is one mama who is completely fed up with people feeling sorry for me or being so rude to doubt that I’m genuinely thrilled with my boys… like they really think I would trade one of them in?!

People ALWAYS assume we were trying for a girl (and this goes for every pregnancy since the first one), whatever that means, as if we have control over that.  They act shocked when I say we weren’t really going for either gender (maybe they need to go back to biology class), as if there is no way this could possibly be true.

At Whole Foods, the check out lady thought this baby in my tummy was going to be my third son (because John was at school—not with Daniel, Andrew, and me... Side bar: I’d really freak people out if they knew this was my FIFTH son).  She proceeded to tell me that my scenario is exactly why she didn't have a third child after her two sons, saying “I just knew I would end up with another boy.”  Umm, thank you for sharing that story?  I could have said that I didn’t feel that was a great reason to limit her family size, or that three kids isn’t all that many, but I left without giving any lectures (pushing my cart filled with paper bags, because I always forget my reusable, eco friendly ones in the car and feel judged every time I’m in that check out line, because you just try going back to your car with a cart full of groceries and two kids in tow… But I digress).

Then at a wedding, another guest told me her daughter was like me and had three boys…. but also had a girl.  Her exact words, accompanied with a sad look, were: “But she did get a girl.”  She apologized to me, because her daughter got lucky with a girl in the mix while I, on the other hand, apparently am to be pitied.  As if being pregnant with a presumably healthy child could possibly be a bad thing. These are all comments I get WHILE I am pregnant, standing right there in front of them, nodding and smiling because I feel like that is what I am expected to do.  (Typically, I truly find southern politeness to be the best and most respectful policy— that we are not people lying through our teeth. However, I might have to start making an exception in some of these cases.)

Someone today literally assumed I “just must be having a girl” when she saw me out with two of my boys at Chick-fil-a and noticed my big belly.  Normally, I try to nip these conversations in the bud before they can beat me to the punch with a question or comment by offering, “It’s a boy. Yes, all boys!”  But I guess she found her in as I was too late or not enough on my A-game to anticipate this conversation.  So after her expressed assumption I was having a girl, to which I laughed politely to ease the tension and informed her it was a boy, she was actually overcome with a downcast look and told me she was sorry. (Yes, another apology.)  She actually had the gall to apologize for my pregnancy, for this life growing inside of me, just because she perceives it to be the “wrong” gender and, that if it had been a girl, our family would no longer be lacking in some way.  She didn’t seem to care or even register my explanation (stronger, and not quite as polite this time): “No, I am blessed.  We love boys.”

Some will push on, “So you really weren’t hoping for a girl?”  Like something would be wrong with me if I wanted another boy.  Or that I was lying the first time she asked the question.  So then I have to go on the defense in the opposite direction to inform her that we were open to a girl of course, but we were also open to another boy.  That we didn’t have a goal when we were trying to get pregnant!  Really?!  It gets so personal.  Maybe I’ll start asking about their personal lives.

Some strangers come around with the consolation remark, “Well, yeah (sigh), I guess what matters is a healthy baby.”  And they don’t even realize that I really, really, really get that more than most (because most of the time I am NOT out in public with John, Daniel, and Andrew at the same time unless Meade is with us, and John is in school 9-3 every day, so they don’t realize I have a child with special needs).  And yet I also wouldn’t trade being the mom of the one who struggled before he passed or of the other who still struggles.  But of course, I wouldn’t wish pain and suffering on any child, so yes, we are always grateful for healthy babies.  Regardless, each child is a GIFT.  100% gift, all the time, no exceptions.

I couldn’t believe one of my perinatologists (high risk doctors) the other day told me that women “can really have kids at any age now,” because we can now find out about Down Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities as early as 10 weeks. i.e. “That can be taken care of with a little procedure, so no need to worry about increased risk or potential burden of carrying for a child with special needs if you choose to get pregnant at an advanced maternal age.”  What is wrong with our society?!  Who gets to decide who has worth, what qualifies one as having worth, and who deserves a chance in this life?

Many strangers will go on to ask about our future childbirth plans… again, it gets quite personal.  I’d say about 2/3 of people assume we must be finished because we already have more than our allotted 2.5 children or because, that after this many boys, we will finally throw in the towel and give up on must have been our quest to have a girl and that all these boys were just failed attempts along the way.   The other 1/3 will ask if we are going to try again after this baby for a girl (yes, they bring up trying for a girl… AGAIN…).  This is while I am pregnant… with THIS child… they are already skipping ahead to the NEXT hypothetical pregnancy.  They still don’t get it… we really are excited about THIS boy.  As my friend put it in her blog post today, which inspired my own, “If we decide to have another, we will again be trying for a baby.  These are human beings, not commodities.”  She with all girls and me with all boys… neither of our families are incomplete!  And yet that is the message we constantly get loud and clear.

I honestly get tired of having to be the bigger person, attempting to assume the best, letting the comments roll off, and offering the cute, witty response.  At this point, I feel I might explode if I am accosted by one more comment, which will undoubtedly happen as soon as I step foot outside my house again.  So I’m left with a few options… never go out again, until the baby comes (but that won’t work, because the comments get even crazier when you are out with all your children of the same gender in the flesh), OR get really snarky and start giving people a piece of my mind, OR get a hat or t-shirt made to wear whenever I go out (this is Meade’s suggestion) that says something like, “Yes, it is another boy, and we are HAPPY about it.” I think I’ll add this part too:  “Please keep any rude remarks to yourself!”

And to continue on this honesty rant, all of these comments and what they mean on a deeper level do hurt my feelings at times and do threaten to rob some of my joy over this pregnancy, over this life, over this precious addition to our family, MY SON.  He is WORTH being celebrated, too, regardless of his birth order or that he happens to be born into a family with all boys.  Sure, I’d be thrilled with a girl too, and like any other well-adjusted person, I am not anti either gender, and I do think about how fun it would be to have a daughter (mostly because I am so close to my own mom and hope it would be the same if I had a daughter).  Additionally, I can feel left out at times if I’m the only one in a group of moms who can’t relate to that part of parenting, and my mind can wander to the things I may potentially miss out on down the road if I never have a daughter. 

But I am positive of what I’m NOT missing out on by having these precious boys… children I adore who also adore me.  The best things that have ever happened to Meade and me.  Children who are made in God’s image.  Children who are in no way here by mistake.  God clearly has big plans for this band of brothers.  And even if we were “trying for a girl,” I trust HE knows better than I do as to what and who our family needs. 

I will continue my reign as Queen Bee.  If and when the day comes that we have a daughter, I will gladly share my throne with our little princess.  But if not, I will reign on and enjoy my family.  I am named after two British queens, am I not?  Okay, not really, but I thought it would be fun to throw that in there!  I will trade property damage and bodily bruises (mine which they inflict, not theirs) any day of the week for the love of these precious sons and the great privilege of getting to shape their minds and hearts as God graciously leads us.

Each and every child is a blessing.  And if you feel differently, then in the words of Miranda Lambert, please “Hide your crazy!”

Thanks for humoring me and reading this.

The End. 
My loves and me on Mother's Day

“I have come that they may have life, 
and have it to the full.”
-John 10:10