Monday, March 24, 2008

Why do I get offended?

Okay, apparently some of you don't agree with my feeling of offense or don't understand why I get offended at the comments I receive when people find out I have 5 kids. I even had a discussion about it with my dear friend & this is the reply I gave to her in an e-mail. I don't want all of you to agree with me, but I do want you to try your best to see where I am coming from. And I do love discussions, so I couldn't resist following up on this one.

"Okay, so, I go to the store with just the twins & people come over & say, "Oh how cute. How precious," blah, blah, blah & it's no big deal, but then they ask if they're my only ones & then I say, No & then it's almost automatic with some people that they say, "You look great to have 5 kids." Well, why didn't I look great to have twins, why did it change when they heard I had 5 kids? Why do I have to be judged on how I look based on how many kids I have? So the lady down the aisle from me that is dressed up in heels with her nails done & her hair so freshly clean & shiny, she couldn't possibly have 5 kids, right? She just doesn't have the look? But, me, I look great......for having 5 kids. This clearly shows that there is a stereotype or a certain image of how a woman with several kids should look & I feel it offensive that they have to say something like that to me because I have more than just a couple of kids. See, it's so hard for me to explain because I think it's so easy to see how it's offensive. I just don't know how to explain it any better. These people don't choose to say this because I only have twins, it only comes after they hear how many kids I have. They think they're giving me a compliment, but really they aren't. If they had said it over just the twins, maybe I wouldn't be so offended, but they don't. It's only after I blurt out that they're not my only kids. And when I just have the older 3, they say, "Oh, you have your hands full," not "Oh, you have your hands full, but I love the smile on your face. It looks like you're having so much fun!" It's negative, you can see it in the way they say it, in the face they make. Guess you'd have to experience it just as I do to understand. Because I haven't done anything to make myself look any better or put any more effort into taking care of myself since I've had 5 kids. I would do the same, look the same & act the same even if I had just one child. So, the comment I think is totally unnecessary & it is offensive to me. I'm not rude to them, I ALWAYS smile & say thank you & I don't get complain about it all the way home. I just let it go & forget about it. But, just once I needed to vent about it, so that I can stand it the next 30 times someone tells me the same thing. Because to me this is what I hear, "To have 5 kids you look great, but if you only had 1, well, we'd expect you to look better than that." Some mom out there with 5 or more kids, may need to hear this, but I don't like it. And when someone tells me I am blessed for having that many children, I whole heartedly accept that as a compliment, because I do from time to time wonder if that very person telling me this even has any children of their own & I hope that they do because it is a wonderful & magical thing."

So, there you have it. Hopefully you can see why I get offended now
& I could hope to be more positive about in the future, but I know I'll hear it for probably the next 18 years at least, so I might as well get used to it, right? Or I could just give in & not do my hair & makeup everyday, not shower everyday, not give a darn what I wear everyday & leave the shirt on that has the spit up stains on it & then maybe I wouldn't have to hear anything from people at all because they'd feel too sorry for me & just be quiet & look away. Yeah! Maybe that's the answer to all my problems! :) Love you guys for responding! Keep the comments coming!


Cassey said...

I just like when people tell me I look good, condescending or not.:)

Anonymous said...

Hmm...well, I can see your point now, but I must confess I am guilty of doing the same thing. Just yesterday, I told my neighbors (who are almost 50) how good they look for their age. They look great for being almost 50, but if they were in their 20s, they'd look pretty bad. I totally didn't mean to be condescending, but I guess I need to be more careful.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify my story, they were talking about their age and how they are really feeling the effects of it - I didn't just blurt out "You look great for being so old!" ha ha

AmyBeth said...

Maria, I totally agree with you, there is such a negative attitude these days towards people with more then 2-3 kids. I get what your saying about how they say it, and how you can tell what they are implying! That would offend me also. I agree 100%!

mom/caryn said...

You'll be hearing that kind of nonsense the rest of your life.
"Oh, you look so good for having XXX number of kids", "for being forty", for fifty" and on and on ad nauseum. I've made it a policy to not let anyone offend me... especially if no offense was intended. What's the point? Did it make me feel better? Nope! Did it teach them anything? Probably not. Did I earn any money, one more day of life, anybody's undying respect by allowing someone else to have control over my emotions? Nah...
It took me a long time to get to this place... but, I'll never leave it again. I just done with being offended.

I can remember being told that I had too many children for a woman who got started so late. I was told that I had my children to close to one another to be able to give them individual attention. Wayne and I were given matching t-shirts when we got engaged. His said, Stotty mine said, Stotty's Girl. I thought they were kind of funny. I was confronted in the mall one day by a woman who berated me for not having any self awareness. She went on and on about my allowing myself to be no more than an appendage of some man. She was SO out of line. I was furious and absolutly gave her a blistering response. I literally shredded her argument. Did I feel any better after I'd done that? I was shaking and kept going over and over the entire conversation for days. I just wouldn't let it go. What the heck?? Why should some insecure, wretch of a woman be able to have that much power over my time and energy? Why should you relinquish one minute of your day to being upset over some off handed remark made by someone who only wanted to compliment you. The most likely reason she said something like that is that she didn't look too great after she had her kids (two, three... who cares how many?) and was surprised and embarrased at the contrast between her experience and yours. Maybe it wasn't a matter of how you looked in your jeans, but how much energy you seemed to have. People have a tendency to compare others to themselves. She may have been seeing herself as a young mother and wishing she'd been able to pull herself together and appear so energetic, in control and physically in shape. I have a woman in my ward who has seven children, homeschools, is the relief society president and at
5'9", wears a size minus two. I'm in awe of her. I had four kids, sent my kids to public schools, taught relief society once a week and at 5.2" wore a size 10. When I say something to the effect of "WOW" You look great for someone with seven kids and a busy life... and I have... what I'm really saying is, "Why couldn't I have tackled everything she is and been as cheerful, happy with my life, cute in my peasant skirt and flip flops? Iwondered if if was that she had more self discipline, better genes, a more helpful husband? It really doesn't have as much to do with her as with my memories of me. It certainly never occured to me that she looks good for seven kids but pretty ratty if she'd only had three...OR oh yeah... well, I wonder what she'd look like if she had 10 kids.

Hey, you feel what you feel... and your perception is your reality. I don't want to discount your response to it. It's yours and it's honest and it is what it is. And it's okay. I used to be a lot like that.... I used to be semi ticked off when someone called me "attractive" I think it's a term you use for a woman who's past her prime... put out to pasture so to speak and it bugged the bleep bleep out of me. Not any more. I'm just old and tired aud willing to cut everyone a lot more slack as I've aged and come to realize how much I need people to overlook my verbal faux pas. Anyway... that's my read on off the wall comments made by well meaning friends and strangers.