What I Would Like to Say When People Make Me Feel Like a Freak For Having Children

And it happens a lot.

(Please accept the partial tongue-in-cheekiness of this post…it’s satire, and though it has a personal angle, it’s much more about addressing a faulty logic that permeates society.)

For a long time, I tried to have a clever answer for the jaw-dropping, invasive probing into my fertility…

“Are you going to have more babies??!!”

Me: “Well, we do love children!”

But the “my hands are full and so is my heart” quip just isn’t me anymore.

And mothers of large families know, you can’t look tired, act frustrated or appear, in the least bit, stressed out with your munchkins in tow. You did, after all, “ask for this”. (You would, however, be allowed to be tired and stressed with two.)

But the fallacy of the stranger’s (and friend’s) logic is mind-boggling. The lady in line next to me at the store can see a therapist to keep from having a nervous breakdown because she has gone back to school for another degree, deals with moody clients all day at the law firm, rushes to pick up her two kiddos from school, speeds through the drive-through to get supper on the table, juggles her three hours before bed among laundry, paperwork, husband and homework, and then collapses before she wakes and does it again.

But be assured, no one will suggest she has made a fatal career choice, or that she mustn’t complain about stress, or secretly tsk her for her choice. She fits the mold and that simply makes her difficulties a part of her badge of honor.

No, I’m not mad at her. But I tire at the inconsistency of treatment. I’m like the fertility feminist. I thought the feminist movement made us equal? With choices? Without the stigmas? Not so much. Apparently we earned the right to be stressed, tired or frustrated ONLY if we made an acceptable career choice.

And I’m 40 now, so I am tired. Motherhood is delightful, wonderful, eternal, an incredible privilege, and downright hard, and it can rightfully be all those things and I shouldn’t have to make apologies for it. Just like any other woman with a full time job (or two), I have great days, and hard days. I love my children with reckless abandon, and they still drive me crazy sometimes. I wouldn’t trade my job for the world, and sometimes I cry. It’s life.

I don’t have clever answers anymore. Mostly, I just have a blank stare when someone snickers and asks me “if I know what causes that“, as if they thought up that cheesy question all by themselves.

Blank stare because I can’t–don’t have time–am too socially inhibited–to say what I really want to say.

But I do feel the need to say it. Somewhere. So I chose here.

What I would like to say when people act like I am some bizarre form of life because I am still having babies, and because I have chosen to pour my life into a job that has eternal implications:

“Why is it strange to you that I have not done something to stop the natural process of reproduction? Why is the burden of proof on me, the one whose body is functioning as it was intended to do? Why is it strange for humans to have babies when the rest of Creation constantly demonstrates the natural and important cycle of life? Why would God make women to naturally bear children for a season of life but then expect us all to chide the ones who actually do? What kind of “wisdom” defies the healthy human body and circumvents its normal function?

You need to know that I wouldn’t care about you using (non-abortive) forms of birth control if it didn’t make you so hostile to my not using it. And I’m not one who thinks it’s always a sin to prevent children either. Things do go wrong. Bodies break. But that’s not the issue you have with me. When birth control became normal, anything else became abnormal. The truth is, birth control is not normal. You may choose to use it, and that’s fine, and I won’t even ask you nosy questions about your choice, but it’s not your default state of being, it’s a deliberately and unnatural, altered state; and you need to be honest about that–that’s all.  I am not the one who has done anything weird. I haven’t done anything at all. I shouldn’t have to explain (or feel strange about) a naturally-occurring event. That is weird.

‘How do we afford them without welfare?’ (Yes, we’ve had acquaintances start rumors about our being on welfare.) How do you afford that car you’re driving? I wasn’t going to ask because I don’t think it’s my business, but since you initiated the conversation….how do you afford manicures? Yearly vacations? Out to eat every week? Gas, driving all over the place? Shopping at the mall? Buying your children a bunch of things they don’t need? Living in a house three times bigger than your family size? Those boots? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.

As a Christian, and as a human, I am doing a perfectly normal thing, marveling at the miracle of life each time I am given the privilege of ushering a new one into the world. Please stop making me feel like a freak.

So, since I don’t make strange faces and insult you when it appears that you have surgically destroyed a healthy part of your body, could you give me the same courtesy for just being…normal?”

That’s what I would like to say. But I’ll probably just stick with the blank stare.


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