It happens everyday. A mom stands in her bathroom waiting to see 2 pink lines pop up. And through a haze of what ifs and to-dos she asks herself when she is going to dare share her news?
Many moms of large families are choosing to wait to tell, later and later, and some not even share at all.
It All Starts with 3
It started after I had my 3rd. People naturally assumed that I was done having children. I now had gotten my girl – after my repeat boys. It was the natural order of things to stop and put away the baby gear, sweet cuddly blankets, and of course my baby making organs. I must be getting those fixed or broken or whatever it is they’re calling it these days.
And the Dreadful 4th
So, when 3.5 years later my little number 4 was in the works, it was hard to tell the checkout girl at Whole Foods, or friends at church, and goodness no – definitely not certain family members.
Because having 4 children isn’t prudent in this world. Everybody knows that.
Don’t Dare Say 5
Moving on to number 5, my family found out when my little 6 year old called them to tell them mommy is having another baby. Odds are they wouldn’t yell at a kid.
Yes, that is the world we live in. In a world that preaches love, while moms of many are met with scorn.
Did He Say 6?
3 years later our little squeaky sweet number six was growing in my belly. My sweet darling husband announced it to our Sunday School class. An older gentleman looked at him and said, “didn’t you know how to stop that? Your wife should keep a pill between her legs.”
Yes. In church. Yes, in front of me and about 30 other people. My cheeks were hot and red as I looked down not wanting to show how uncomfortable I was being there. Because in that instant he made it clear that this wasn’t a blessing from God but something to be prevented.
You Must Be Crazy #7
And so, when our 7th came along I was thankful to surround myself with people who I knew loved and supported us and who always know that children are a blessing. But I still, every once in a while, wince when I bring all of our brood out in public. Together. I mean one or two at a time is fine but seriously, daring to leave the house in a group is just asking for comments.
You Have Your Hands Full – Really
Comments are usually one of these, you have your hands full, or haven’t you figured out what causes that? Or the ever so funny, Are you Mormon?
So, they question our knowledge on sex ed and even worse inquire about our religion. For some reason common decency and common courtesy leave when people in our society see a woman with more than 3 kids enter the room. It seems like it’s time to cast all the shame on this poor unsuspecting human who did nothing to deserve it other than to procreate and go grocery shopping.
The kind comments pleasantly surprise me and build up my confidence. I can face the world with a bit of dignity after hearing their gracious words.
But the bad comments are like a slap in the face and they seriously make me doubt humanity. Maybe I’m some sort of modern day rebel but those comments won’t change my mind about my kids that I already have or those kids that I might someday be blessed with. But they do make me question what gives these other people the right to question my life decisions.
A Sad Epidemic of Shame
I have friends who hide pregnancies until they are ready to pop just so they don’t have to hear another hurtful word. They hide from social media and sometimes even their own parents. I see women who silently cry and wonder why there is so much hatred spewed to them.
I had an epiphany which allowed me to see with clarity how those hurtful comments just make you look like a complete jerk to these beautiful moms of the world. Saying, “You have your hands full,” should be followed up with, “how can I help you?” And the other comments should be left unsaid – better yet unthought. Because all of this is a form of hate. A form of public humiliation. And the only goal is to shame.
Then it happened. I came across an article written over at CBC. It shouldn’t be taboo to criticize parents for having too many kids, where after giving all the reasons why we should basically control the population and women should find a better calling than motherhood, the author actually has the audacity to state, “Shame is a powerful tool for changing behaviour: it’s how we introduce new and existing social conventions. It’s unfortunate that Chip and Joanna bore the brunt of changing attitudes, but let’s learn from the reaction and examine our own actions.”
And I’m speechless. For a little while at least.
Is this some sort of social experiment? Is the author really hoping to have a positive impact on our world by shaming women and families who have more than the “normal” amount of kids? (Who defines the word normal anyways?).
Not to mention this is really nothing new. Seriously, us large family mamas have been hearing these comments since baby number 3. Shaming moms is nothing new.
In a way, I feel sorry for her. Her ignorance is palpable.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I’m left both thankful and very, very sad for Chip and Joanna Gaines who I deeply admire and respect. Thankful that they’ve shown the world that they do, in deed, value children and family.
And through their choice to share the news of their newest blessing with the world we were able to more clearly see what an evil, wicked world we live.
And thus, I’m very sad to now understand the root of all these careless and hurtful remarks that so many of us face.
The Ignorance Agenda
All of the talk of acceptance and equality is nothing but a sham, folks. I’m here to tell you from the trenches. Because I walk the walk, I live the life of a mom of 7 kids in a world that hates us. That hopes to shame us. Or worse, possibly, hopes to stop us at some point from living our calling. There is no acceptance for us except among a select few.
So I feel the only rightful way to conclude this is to say: Shame on you CBC for propagating hate and ignorance. And shame on any of you who choose to participate.
P.S. I know people say the phrase “You’ve got your hands full” and they aren’t always saying it with negative connotations. Sometimes it is said with a spirit of amazement or intrigue. For the purposes of this article it is just one of the many things people say which can be said in a snarky way (should I say a shaming way) and it is common.
My seven, five, and three year olds have all started asking me why people always say I have my hands full. For me the comments started long before my fourth was in the picture. All three of mine are hyperactive strong willed and wonderful yet the public sees them as a burden. My children have started sweetly (yet sarcastically) repeating things they’ve heard me say to strangers. “Yeah but we are worth it!” Or “Yep 4 kids are not for everyone (I inwardly chringed when he added) you probably couldn’t handle it”. After #2 I quit announcing pregnancies on social media and started letting the kids tell family so I wouldn’t have to. As our youngest gets older and his Down’s syndrome becomes evident I can only imagine the comments. When we lost baby #5 some family “encouraged” us by saying things like “it’s for the best considering your youngests condition”, “it’s probably a good thing since you already have four” or “it’s for the best since they would have been too close together” (18 months apart like our first two…which was not an accident). I’ve been flat out told by family members we are foolish if we try to have more kids.
Most days I roll my eyes and don’t care, thankful I answer to the Lord and not to man.
Some days I feel sorry for the narrow mindedness.
Today I am in 100% agreement with your post: “Shame on you world!”
Oh Aly! I’m so so sorry you have had to hear those comments (and that your kids have had to too). I can all too frequently relate because this shaming of moms has become epidemic. Thank you for leaving your comment. We know children are a blessing – no matter what personality or how strong willed. My oldest has autism and other special needs. People can be so cruel at times.
Sarah Belanger says
No one has a filter anymore to think things through without speaking unfortunately. I love that you said “you have your hands full” should be followed by “how can I help you?” We say comments at an arms length. This is a great reminder to really think about others and how we can be there for each other.
Thank you Sarah!
Ruth Ridley says
Such great wisdom here! I have 3 kiddos and it is a lot to juggle.
Thank you Ruth!
Suzanne Hines says
I really appreciate this article. I come from a family of 2 kids and my husband comes from a family of 7 kids (all boys!). It did take me some time to adjust to the large family dynamics when I married in, Haha!
My husband and I are bio parents to two beautiful babies and foster parents to one pre-teen. We also fostered a baby who has left our home. I have received some of the most gut-wrenching comments from people who see my crew as an inconvenience rather than a blessing. Comments like “why should you ask for or expect help when you are ones who signed up to foster kids?” or “Why would you have more when you already have your hands full?” It is so sad. I am so thankful to hear your encouraging words in this season
Suzanne – Wow! That is awful. I’m so sorry people have been so mean and hurtful. There is a similar sentiment among people who look down on big families. For instance, one mom told me she could never complain about having a hard day or her family would tell her it was her fault for having so many kids! Everyone has difficult days from time to time. The encouragement is lacking for sure! You are right, it is lacking for foster parents and bio parents alike. Thanks for your encouragement and comment!
Leigh Suznovich says
It drives me nuts that people can’t just be kind and keep their judgmental comments to themselves. Let people live how they choose! Enjoy your beautiful family and keep doing what you’re doing and speak out about the shaming.
I have often heard the opposite while raising a single child. So many friends, family, and strangers want us to have more kids but they have no idea of our history and no right to an opinion on our family! I’m sorry you’ve heard such negativity about your family. We are all responsible for doing what we think is best!
Hands full and heart full! I have dear friends that had 5 of their own children and adopted another 7 children. Anytime I tell someone about them the first comment is “they must have a lot of money”. Granted, it does take a lot of money to raise 12 children. But they’re doing it. I think if you can provide for the children, then why not have them? And if God calls you to adopt, then why not adopt? Thanks for sharing this post!
We have 5 and I was almost embarrassed being out in public when I was pregnant with 4 &5. People are rude and their comments hurt. I already felt nervous and overwhelmed in some moments that their comments just added to my fear.
When have we forgotten that kids are blessings from God?
Susan Evans says
I always wanted 8 kids, and I could never understand why people hate to have more children.
Thanks for the article! As a mom of 6 and expecting my number 7 to arrive any time soon, it is hard to hear all this unesesary comments. With baby number 7, I recived the first comment that really makes me feel humilliated. Is not that I havent recived comments since my number 4 (a girl after 3 boys in a row), but this comment make me feel horrible. Our kids were bike ridding outside and my husband and I were walking around carring the little ones (one and 3). They stop us and say how beautifull my kids were and that I have the couple already… So my oldest came and say Dad, the dog run out, so they ask me, Oh is that yours too?? And I say, yes, exepct for that one, the other 4 with this two are ours!! One of her was in shock, while the other was saying wow, you hve too many, how do you handle it, well school helps you with sanity, because you can rest…ect… so I say No, I homeschool them. So the one that was in schock open her mouth and say (while my husband was coming back) Do you know goverment is goig to take out all the helps for food and housing??? At that point I felt really small, but tell her, really??? So sad for those who depend of them. Thanks God my husband is the one that provide for us. So she look at him and ask him, so are you thinking on cutting your “THING” already? They are too much!!! I was in shock abd really humilliated, but my husband respond so nice. He look at her and say, have you seen them?? Look ( all of them were near) they are beautifull, my “THING” is the only thing that works great, why I would cut it??
The lady stay there without anything to say and we left. I love his answer!!! But it is really hard for us, as you say hear all this comments every day.
When someone my husband was working with heard we were expecting 5 made the comment ” You know what causes that?” He calmly responded, ” Sex, and a desire for children.” The poor guy was thoroughly embarrassed. Some people are very mean, but others truly haven’t thought about what they are saying.
We hang on to a comment that was made to us in a church parking lot that we visited after the fifth was born. We had recently bought an old 15 passenger van with tinted windows and were piling out. Some people came over to meet us and asked how many children we had. My husband said 5 and the reply was spoken in disappointment, “Ohhh? We thought you had a BIG family.” We knew we had moved to the right place. We know we are living our lives for the Lord and not ourselves. People on the outside do not understand. We are now expecting 8 and our oldest will still be eight at that time. I love to go shopping. We practice at home in order not to have a zoo. I love to tell people, Yes, they’re all mine. The joy that doing the Lords will has brought to my life far exceeds the comforts and acceptance of being normal. If not for submitting to His will and accepting His blessings we would never had the privilege to see what it’s like to have a bigger than normal family and we would have missed out on one of the most rewarding lifestyles there are. Hang in there, we are out here though we may be hard to find.
Thank you for writing this. I have never really thought of the comments as trying to shame me into stop having more kids. But I think you’re right. It’s especially disheartening when it comes from your parents. What are they saying about your life when you were their ninth child but now all the sudden they are concerned because you mentioned not being “done” after 5?! Thank you for reminding me that it is a calling. My audience needs to be One, not all the other voices trying to influence me.