To The Strangers Who Feel It’s Necessary to Point Out the Obvious

Somewhere in recent history it apparently became acceptable to say completely inappropriate things to the mom out in public with kids. I assume this happened around the same time it apparently became acceptable to say stupid things like, “you look like you’re about to pop!” and “are you SURE you’re not having twins?” to pregnant women. I’ll save the elaboration on that for a later post. For today, let’s just take a read through the ridiculously inappropriate comments I get and questions I field on a weekly (weekly!) basis. And while I will be the first to admit these comments and questions probably come from a harmless place, they are anything but harmless. So can we all please realize that it’s NOT okay to say these things? Call this blog post a rant if you’d like, I’m going to call it more of a refresher in manners. And to help you with the visual of this post, I have four kids- three girls and a boy. They are 6, 5, 2.5, and 5 months so yes, we are apparently quite the sight when we are in public. APPARENTLY. 

“Are you going to TRY for a boy?”
So a couple of things with that. First, how does someone “try” for a boy? Am I supposed to only have sex on odd numbered days? Or drink some weird tea afterwards?  A certain position perhaps? This question makes me all sorts of flabbergasted. What this stranger is really asking is, “Are you going to keep having sex and procreating until something with a penis comes out of you?” I’m sorry, am I going to keep having more and more and more and more and more and more kids until I “finally” get one of a different sex? No. No I’m not. It’s such a weird thing to ask someone; especially a stranger! And inappropriate. And thank you for implying (in front of my daughters no less) that my family isn’t good enough, or up to your standards, or complete enough until we “finally” get that elusive boy. Which leads me to my next situation.

“You finally got your BOY!”
I correct everyone when they say this. Everyone. Every time. We didn’t “finally” get anything. We wanted four kids, we had four kids, the last one happened to be a boy, and that’s it. So what you’ve just said in front of my three daughters is that their worth is less than it would be if they were boys or if they had a brother- that they themselves are not good enough. Having a son does not complete me or my husband or our family in any way shape or form. I know that’s not what you meant when you asked the question, but that is what you said.  It’s hard not to be mean to people when they say this, it really is. If you want to keep having children until you “finally” get your boy or girl that’s totally cool. That’s your choice. But if you’re the stranger in the store, it’s totally not cool to talk to the mom about it, especially if her kids are there.
What you can say instead: “You have a beautiful family.”

“Wow you really have your hands full.” or “Wow you have a lot of helpers today.”
These comments always happen at the grocery store. Always. Every time. Yes, my hands are full and now they are even more full since we’ve stopped to respond to this comment. Oh look, now my “helpers” are taking everything off the shelves putting it in my cart in the two seconds it’s taken me to respond to you. Did you want them to “help” you with your grocery shopping too? No? Are you sure? Because they’re really good at making suggestions for food with sugar contents >50 grams. Or maybe you were offering to lend me a hand? You weren’t? Oh, my bad. I misread your comment as an offer to help when it was, in fact, referring to the noise level of my offspring. Sorry. (Not sorry). 
What you can say instead: “You have a beautiful family.”

“Three girls?! Just wait until they’re teenagers!”
Do you really think I don’t already lose sleep thinking about my children as teenagers? It’s not because three of them are girls, it’s because they are my children. I am keenly aware of every move I make, every mistake, every time I lose my temper, every time I mess up, every time I do something that could possibly rattle their trust in me. Because each time one of those things happen, I feel like I’m putting a crack in the strong foundation I’m trying to build with them.  I’m trying to build this foundation so when they are teenagers we have solid relationship based on trust, love, and friendship and the building of that foundation starts now, when they are little. 
I feel like I could write a book based solely on that comment- the assumptions, the sexism, the stereotyping, the rape culture that all comes from that one comment is almost too over-whelming to think about. 
What you can say instead: “You have a beautiful family.”

“You need a new hobby.”
Can you believe someone said this to me? A stranger said this to me. Who says things like that? What if your bartender was like, “Another round? And did you have sex with your husband last night?” Or the cashier said, “Did you find everything ok? When was the last time you and your spouse “tried” for a boy?” <— See what I did there? Anyway, I responded to this man with the only phrase that came to mind: “But it’s the most fun!” And then I walked out the door and left him to pick up his jaw off the floor.
What you can say instead: Nothing. If your original impulse was to make THAT comment you just need to not say things. At all. Ever. 

Again, I understand when people say these things they are (mostly) coming from a good place and just trying to create conversation, but that still doesn’t make it ok. I internally cringe thinking my girls are hearing someone imply that their parents are sad, bummed, disappointed, or incomplete in any way because either there are “a lot” of them or because they are all girls. I (apparently) have “a lot” of kids and people need to remind me of that daily. And thank God (apparently) that one of them is a boy.   
What I say every day: “I have a beautiful family.”




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