Are We Really Circus Worthy?

I’m beginning to think that people view our family as something from a circus side-show.

Anytime I go somewhere with my children, I can almost guarantee I will receive at least one comment from some stranger regarding the size of our family. These comments range from the obvious (“My, you must be busy!”) to the embarrassing (“Don’t you know what causes that?”) to the inane (“You certainly have your hands full!”). People I don’t know feel that they somehow have a right to stop me (who interrupts a busy mother shopping with four children in tow?) in a store, or event, or wherever, and waste my time with their witty observations on my family size.

In all honesty, our family doesn’t even seem big to me. Four children isn’t a large family; it’s a normal family. If we had had a fifth child, I still wouldn’t have considered us to be a large family. Six children doesn’t even seem like so many, although at that point you would run into some interesting logistical problems regarding ordinary transportation. It really isn’t until I see about seven or eight children in a family that I start to think to myself, “That’s a pretty big family.” And even then, I realize that people that have children numbering in double digits view that as a smaller, regular sized family.

When I ventured to Strassenfest with the children last weekend, however, I had a new experience. I realized that I was hearing someone talk *about* us. As we were getting off the shuttle bus, I heard a woman say to her friend, “She’s really got her hands full!” Now, like I said before, I’m used to people commenting directly *to* me about my family size, but I’ve never heard someone talk *about* us before. Maybe I’ve just never noticed, I don’t know, but it was weird.

I have to say, I didn’t care for either her tone, or the feeling I got that we were some kind of freakish entertainment to watch and be talked about. Four children is really not worth someone’s commentary. If she had seen me three years ago, with an almost newborn, and three other children under the age of five, I would have understood better. And what if she knew that one of the children that was keeping me so busy has autism?!? Then she would *really* have reason to think my hands are full! But just seeing a mother out with her four children? I’m sorry, but I really don’t think we’re interesting enough for strangers to be noticing and talking (loudly!) about!

4 thoughts on “Are We Really Circus Worthy?

  1. Delinah says:

    Yep, I’ve been stopped in the grocery store with five children in tow, when utilizing a two-cart grocery shopping scheme. It always makes me wonder who has the gall to stop a mother who is both pushing a cart AND pulling one while juggling coupons, three free-walking children (6 1/2, 5, & 3 1/2) and entertaining both a toddler (2) and a baby (9 months) to comment on the status of my hands.

    Do you not realize you just added to my workload, random (usually) older person in the grocery store? Yes, a family of all little blonde girls is hard to find, but we manage just fine (most of the time) without selling tickets to the Howard Family Freak Show. ^.^

    You hit the nail on the head!

  2. Hi Amanda! I’m a new reader, my good friend just sent your site to me… I have three boys aged 2, 3 and 4 and we are also foster parents, most recently to a little girl who was also 2. I get these funny looks and phrases all the time. One man even asked if our TV was broken for a while because we sure were busy… hmmm. It’s amazing what people will say when they see you with your lot of littles!

    PS… I LOVE Ticket to Ride!

  3. Jenna says:

    People comment to me all the time as well and I only have TWO! I don’t understand what the big issue is. Many say to us, “Oh you have your boy and your girl”, like I’m supposed to stop having kids now. Apparently once you have a child of each sex, you are supposed to stop?!?

  4. Oh yeah, people definitely think that if you have one of each gender, you’re done for sure…I remember that well from when we had our first two. And they’re really appalled when you’re expecting/have had your third, like you’ve upset some big cosmic balance. And when they’re close in age on top of it, people just think you’re totally out of your mind!

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