Tuesday, January 11, 2011

staring and gawking.

Being a large family is so neat.

When we go out, I really despise being watched, gawked at or stared at. And yes we get all those on a regular basis. It's not my imagination. I'm not sure if it is because we have 8 children or if it's because we have 8 children 10 and under. Maybe both.

I think that the reason why I despise being stared at is because I am typically a shy person and sometimes suffer from a people pleasing spirit. It really stinks to walk into a restaurant or store and have so many heads turn to watch.

I enjoy a more discreet existence. The modest and quiet {not standing out} way of living. I know....I know. I should get over it-- mostly when I have chosen to leave my family planning up to God. What did I expect from society? Not to stand out with a whole football team of munchkins following me around calling me Mommy?

Ironically, the funny thing is-- I LOVE having people ask me questions or start conversations with me about the kids instead of just staring. So many people just cannot master their curiosity and are compelled to ask, "Are they all yours?" Such a silly question because who in their right mind would bring 8 little children to run errands, go shopping or out to eat just because? Then they start telling me how they have only 2 and they can't seem to handle it. Then, as the conversation opens up, I usually end up explaining how really scared I was when I only had one child. I was also concerned before number two, and terrified when our third was on her way. I tell them that it was much harder with three back then, than it is now with eight....

Honestly, when I come to think of it, if the situation were reversed, then I would totally be a staring gawker if I was to see my family in a store or restaurant. I would just be a little less obvious about it! Actually I do stare at other large families. I mean-- I want to see how they function, work and get along. Large families with children very close in age is a very cool phenomenon to watch because it goes against much of what our contemporary society teaches.

But it is so much better to say something nice or encouraging to that Daddy or Mommy than to just stare. If someone is gonna stare, then they should at least smile, right?

Some will think that it just goes with the territory, but since when is being rude okay? And if you think I'm over-exaggerating about being on display, then you need to come with us sometime when we're out on the town. You'd be surprised. And that's even when my kids are being well-behaved.

Here's an example: The other night, while we were grabbing a bite to eat at Costco with the family, a young lady was staring at us from a couple feet away as she guarded her newly purchased $3000 tv. I know it cost that much because my husband couldn't get over the fact that the tv was almost as big as our van and had to check out how much one of those cost when he went in the store afterward. I was feeling a little uncomfortable to say the least especially since I was trying to feed pizza to a 1 1/2 year old, keep my 8 week old from fussing and stuffing down a sandwich roll. Oh yeah-- and keep my 2 year old sitting down while eating and my 5 year old from being a typically loud 5 year old wild boy....

Finally, she broke the uncomfortable silence by going through the large family questionaire. Wow. That felt much better. Maybe everyone wants to ask and know. But gosh! Staring is not polite. I'm still learning this when I see other large families. Like when I saw a Mommy in Target with 3 little babies back to back struggling with typical 'little children in the store' problems, I totally respected her for having such small babies close in age, but I didn't say anything to encourage her. I should have. I guess I didn't because I'm shy in regards to that kind of stuff, but it would've been pretty nice to hear a kind comment from me in contrast to all the stares she might get.


Joy said...

I love it when people speak to me too instead of staring. I have four children. One has autism and he yells out sometimes and makes weird noises. I would much rather TALK about the autism than have someone rudely stare or think I have a "naughty" child because he can get a little bit loud. I also find myself "checking out" other larger families because I guess I feel they are sorta like me but I always at least smile at them.

Angie said...

Hey! I've been lurking around for a while. This is my 1st time commenting. I really enjoy stopping by to read your blog and I also LOVE your design and format. I feel like I'm actually there watching your kids grow. Not too crazy about wearing "pink slippers". They get dirty too fast around here. Ha Ha! :D

Sometimes I'm one of those people staring. I just stare because I'm amazed or sometimes wish it were me (have only 2). I also make sure I'm smiling so not to annoy or offend anyone. My aunt had 17 that I grew up with. But at the time they didn't seem like a large family because I was around them all the time. No one really noticed them because their ages are SO spread apart. It was VERY rare for them to be in the same place...at the same time. When no. 17 was born, the oldest 5 were already married with their own kids. The middle kids who were teens and had after school activities or jobs. So the last few were the ones everyone would see with my aunt. So I guess that's why people "forgot" they are a large family.

When I see large families, I just wonder, how old was the mom when she started or does she do it for religious reasons. I've met a few who said religion had nothing to do with their decision. All the same, I've have enjoyed meeting all types of moms, young and older who have had "many" blessings over the years...and more to come. :)

Michelle said...

Oh gosh- I get so many looks as well! And I'm only on my fourth- I get nasty looks, too. And that's when my children are well behaved! I'm always surprised by the unguarded nasty looks. I wonder if the strange looks just turn to gawking when you get past 4...I guess I'll find out later ;)

Mrs.Rabe said...

I always try to encourage moms with little ones (especially many little ones) when I am out and about and see them. I try to smile and tell them it passes so quickly and if you are faithful and consistent they will give you joy and rest!

Just smile at them Wendy...people are used to the Duggars so I think they are often just curious. Though I do know that some are just rude. We have 6 some being adults now and our youngest is 5. We heard the most negative when we only had three - an elderly man came up to us in Target and said of our 5 year old, 2 1/2 year old and 2 month old "Are they ALL yours? Don't you know what causes that?" He was pretty disgusted with us. hee hee Wow if he could only see us now.

Just think of all the joy that will surround you in the years to come, when you and your hubby are older and the children and the grandchildren are looking out for you. These people who thought you were crazy will be jealous.


Marla said...

Loved this post .You had me laughing,with the question of are they all yours? We get the stare too!

April said...

Oh wait you can't forget about "you sure do have you hands full!!)I hear that ALL THE TIME...and I only have 3. When my third son was born my middle son was only 12 months old so people used to REALLY give me looks and questions. We felt like celebrities when we would go out because we always had comments. Of course it didn't help that my middle son had gorgeous,long hair that had beautiful streaks of blonde in it. They always thought he was a girl(no matter how blue and boy-ish his clothes were).

I look too but only out of curiosity. I also try to make sure I smile. I totally respect and admire large families!

*I have also had the "don't you know what causes that" comment--many times. Not. Cool.

kristin said...

Oh, I love your blog! Partly because I love big families and partly just because you seem like such a wonderful mama to a wonderful family.

I grew up in a family of 11 children and know all the stares and comments. When we went on errands with our dad he always got the comment about are they all yours. He would always tell them, "Oh, this is only part of them. I have 5 and a half dozen." And he did have that many and left it at that. :)

I too get stared at now with my children and have gotten many comments. Although I have almost 60 nieces and nephews, I only have 2 children and they are Chinese. I've been asked things like, "How much did she cost?" or "Why'd you adopt from there? Why not get a baby here?"

Usually when people stare I just smile at them and I do always try to remember that we do look 'different' to others. To me they are simply my daughters, but of course they obviously don't look like me. I always try think if they ask questions that maybe they too want to adopt.

Thanks for sharing your family through your blog.

Kim said...

I know JUST what you are talking about~~ we have 7, and I babysit two more. I used to take them all with me to the store for groceries, I have a rope with loops on it for the little kids to hang on to and I hang on to the end...people would stare and say rude things...so much so that my oldest (10) asked if we could stop going as a family! People can be so rude! I would always just smile and share the love of God :0)

Rachel said...

I know all too well what you mean. I am the oldest of only 5 children, but I know the stares all too well when we are out and about together. I remember one time walking in downtown Chicago all in a line and the turns and the stares were completely ridiculous. I wish people would ask my parents more often. And since we are all homeschooled being out in public in the middle of the day often gets a few stares as well.

I couldn't be any happier having the amount of siblings that I do. There's always someone to play with, talk to, and help. We may get on each others nerves once in a while but I wouldn't want it any other way. :)

Blessings to you and your wonderful family!

Mercy D'souza said...

I know what you mean about the stares. I get them all the time, especially when I take all 3 of them out together.
Here in India staring seems to be acceptable, but I find it bothersome since I was taught it is rude. Being white doesn't help things either. Where we live there aren't many foreigners so we really stand out. Also, most families here space their children out by several years so when they see me with 3 under 3 years and I've got the baby in the carrier, toddler in the stroller and preschooler walking along, they seem amazed and shocked at the same time.