Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dealing with the expectations of others: Part 1

Meagan asked me: 'How do you cope or deal with other's expectations of you?

When I first started this blog I wrote a blog post addressing this topic: Does my butt look big with this bus? In this blog post I share how as a mother of a large family I never really thought about what car I would have to drive and how I was adjusting to driving a commuter bus everywhere I go. I also talk about how I often feel like women are judging me on the way that I look and by how many children I have.

"One of the funny things about me driving this bus is the reaction from others. When I pull up somewhere, lets say at a playground where lots of other kids are playing. It is as if the whole playground goes silent...it stops...parents included, to see what sort of tragedy is about to happen. This is when I start to smile to myself... The sliding door opens, normally loudly...and all my kids start to tumble out. I see the other kids on the playground looking scared and I know they are thinking...'it's a gang of kids coming to get us'. Now my kids are not perfect but they are kind! 

Then I see parents counting my kids and it is fun to see them start to shake their head, like I have committed some crime bringing all these children into the world, and then their mouths drop when they get to the end. Yes! There really is seven! Then when all the kids are out of the bus. It is my turn. This is the funniest part. When I get out of the bus and make my way around to the other side of the car, to normally close the sliding door because the last person out has of course forgotten to close it, people stare at me. It is like they are in shock! After they have stared for a while they then look me up and down, I mean, totally look me up and down. Especially women! They start forming a judgement in their mind and begin to wonder about this spectacle and they always seem to look at my butt. I get so tempted to give them a big flash of my butt just so they can have a closer look - with clothes on of course! 

They love to see if I am overweight (which of course I am in my own small way) and it is as if they are saying to themselves...no way are all those kids hers, she doesn't look like a woman who should have 7 kids."  

Now I understand that people are just fascinated, in shock and intrigued with the fact that I have seven kids. I have days where I am in shock about it too! I am happy to answer questions and tell them that yes, I did plan to have all these children (all except the twins, we did not expect to have twins) and yes we do have a television! 

I know I am not alone in having a large family, there are so many combined large families today and there are plenty of other women who desire to have lots of kids too. Most comments from people are kind and on the days I get unkind comments I try not to let it get to me. I am used to driving my bus now, I love it, and I am used to talking to people about our family. 

Once upon a time I would have piled my kids in the bus and gone home and cried when people said unkind things to us about the size of our family. Now I have a collection of comments that I use as a reply and I am much stronger in dealing with criticism. Having a blog has sure helped me toughen up in a lot of area's and I know that if I am going to put myself out there with things that I do and opinions that I have, I need to be prepared to also accept the opinions of other's, even if they are not nice.

I also know that as a mother of a large family I simply can't keep up with many everyday situations in life that others do. For example, the kids homework. It takes me a lot longer to help my children with their homework than it might for another family. With 6 children currently at school and 6 lots of homework to deal with each night I have to let other things go in my life to keep up with it. Yes, I would like to attend an event, read more blogs, comment on more blogs, watch television, visit a friend etc. but I simply can't fit homework and all those other things in my life. So I accept that I let people down, I can't meet the needs of friends or others and I can't do everything. Homework and my children comes first in this season of my life and everything else will just have to wait. Some days this makes me sad, especially when I feel like I am tired and want to bang my head against the wall because the homework is way above what I remember learning at school, but most days I cope with it fine.

Recently, I had an experience where people were asking and wanting some more of me with my time. My desire was to fill that need because I wanted to help and I knew it would be a good thing in my life. But, when I looked at my family situation I had to say No. I knew I could not fit it in our schedule, that it would take more time away from my family and that we were already stretched to the limit. I had to say No. I explained I would love to help but right now I simply can't. I was really tired that day and had a little cry about it. After I let those emotions out, I moved on.

But really, to be honest, most days I don't worry too much about what other's think of me or expect of me. I am simply too busy keeping up with my own life and that of my children to let it get to me. I know what I do with my time, I know I am working hard, my family knows I am working hard and that is all that matters. 

I do have a little more to say about this topic and am going to share Part 2 tomorrow. 

8 comments:

  1. You do better than me Naomi. Last Christmas I was spoken about right in front of my kids and I really wanted to speak up for myself BUT I realised that I would have gone down to this women level and it would have ended with more insults. As a mother of 4 I find it difficult and I still haven't learnt to not be effected by the cruel words, the looks and the open mouthed steering. I look forward to tomorrows post.

    I hope one day to take a leaf out of your book.

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  2. I could have written Megan's post. As a mum of four I am sad to say I care what people think .. too much. This had not helped my anxiety disorder one bit either!

    I really feel with larger families some people are looking for you to fail. If one child is a having a bad moment it is because I cannot control my 4 children. "Why have so many if you cannot control them" I have heard. If I let someone down it's because I had too many children.

    I love to read your inspiring posts and I am going to endeavour, starting today, to not care so much what people think of me and my beautifully close together noisy brood, and be so very grateful that God blessed me with each one of them.

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  3. I have 3 delightful children and after having a boy and a girl I actually got asked by people why am I having another one!

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  4. I had my fourth baby a 4 months ago and the attention and comments this brings is amazing! I am regularly asked if he is my last and I get mixed results when I say I am not quite finished! To me 4 kids is not a huge family, but the right size family at the moment for us. I have to learn to let the some comments slide, it is upsetting at times when people are almost offended that I could possibly want more than 2 babies! Your blog is very inspiring to this new mum of 4!

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  5. I love that post, it's my favourite of yours.
    xx

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  6. You are right Naomi, I would definitely looked at you however it would have been with respect. I am a full time working Mum of two gorgeous littlies and know how busy that keeps me. Anyone with more than that I am in awe of and a little envious!

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  7. I'm going to be completely honest here, I can look at large families & have judgemental, unkind thoughts. My husband says things (just to me) like "don't they have a TV". We have 2 girls & I would have loved to have many more children, but starting later than most, this wasn't going to be. I would say I'm a great example of my own thoughts being about me (envious) rather than about the large families that are the subject of my thoughts at times. It's great to read posts like these, try & put myself in your shoes, and look at my own thoughts & motivations as well. Thanks Naomi.

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  8. I'm a bit late to be posting here but oh well! The older I get the more I realise that our society has a low tolerance for children. Although many would be horrified to say "children should be seen and not heard" that is exactly the attitude that comes through from many people. EG - childfree flights, 'quiet' zones on trains, people rolling their eyes when a parent arrives at a cafe (or train, or park, or library) with a child/children. Sadly that attitude often comes through loud and clear for parents with more than the 2.4 children. I love the idea of having a very large family but to be absolutely truthful I'm not sure I could handle (physically and emotionally) being pregnant more than twice. (I'm currently pregnant with bubba number 2!) I absolutely admire your courage in having seven children and in a small way I envy you the wonderful craziness that is a large family. I pray God will continue to bless you and your family. X

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