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.