Wednesday, October 14, 2015

OMG, Where did all these children come from?

“So, do you have children?”  Invariably the question comes up at a cocktail party, parent’s association meeting, board meeting, client meeting, winery party. It’s just basic small talk; it shouldn’t be a difficult question.
I pause a couple of seconds and look the person straight in the eye to size up how they might react.
Sometimes I answer, “Yes,” and change the subject.  Sometimes, I say, “Yes, lots!” and change the subject. 
My hesitation is that my answer stops people dead in their tracks.  People simply do not know how to respond. You can almost see the gears turn in their heads as they process the information – anywhere from awed, to disgusted, to befuddled. It all flashes across their faces.  And that’s BEFORE I tell them I live on a goat farm. Icing on the cake!
Von Trapp Family
First, some background: I have seven kids by two relationships. Five with my first husband (The Ex), and two with my former paramour (Bubba).  The children range in age from 19 to 2.  Four girls, three boys.  Everyone’s got a problem, from choosing a college major to potty training--and everything in between!

Wow, do I learn a lot about people by the questions they ask next.  Here are some of my favorites:

Are you Catholic or Mormon? No, I’m Episcopalian actually. (Go team!)  And when is it ever appropriate to ask someone what his or her religion is?? Um, never.

“Did you plan that?” Yes, call me crazy. And I do know what birth control is.  And, for the record, I am also pro-choice.
You Pick

Did you come from a large family? The answer: No, I was an only child. And I HATED it… obviously.  That usually shuts down the people who have only one child.
Family Size

“Are you done?” So now they are asking about my sex life? My dearest friends all chuckle because many of them have seen me through 5 or more pregnancies.  It’s kind of a cliché for them – “here she goes again...”  Anyway, the answer: Yes, stick a fork in me, I am done. Factory closed.

“Were you on fertility drugs?” What the hell? That’s like me asking someone with no kids if they are having problems conceiving – a big NO-NO. The answer: No!  I gave birth to each and every one of them, one at a time. No C-sections, either.

Which leads me to my all time favorite: “Wow! YOU had seven kids?! [as they look me up and down, head to toe]”  Men and women both do this full body scan.  It is incredibly creepy, though maybe flattering  I guess?  Then the men glance inquiringly at my boyfriend, David – usually following the C-section remark/question. 

The follow-up question, spoken or unspoken, is: 
“Why are you not as big as a house?” (I’m paraphrasing…).  I have a couple of responses:
1) I won the genetics lottery with my strong German peasant stock (“Yah”),
2) Chasing 7 kids around is a workout that leaves no time to eat.

If you had asked me when I was younger how many kids I wanted, I would’ve looked at you blankly. It wasn’t a topic I spent a lot of time contemplating.  Now, having seven kids seems the most natural thing in the world.  This is my life, and I love it. Not that some days aren’t tough, mind you.

Let me describe it this way: having seven kids is like having toenails.  Stay with me here. They are always a part of you. They definitely need attention and maintenance, and sometimes they hurt. Sometimes you polish them up and make them pretty with little painted flowers, but for the most part they are just part of your everyday life. You probably take them for granted, but life wouldn’t be the same without them.

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