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!