“I sure hope you are babysitting and these are not all your kids.” Last week, on a regular trip to the grocery store, these words were said to me. It is not abnormal for people to stop and talk with me about our family. When you have 7 kids 6 and under, I guess this can be expected. Some comments are super sweet and encouraging and some can be a bit of a face slap. Usually I am able to let the latter statements roll off my back as I attempt to educate the public on the need for more foster and adoptive parents but, this day came after I had spent a wonderful spring break week with my kids. We went to museums, the movies, the library, playgrounds…let’s just say the kids had a list of fun things they wanted to accomplish and, by golly, somehow we made it all happen! Along with all that fun came many comments from people we had never met; assuming we were a preschool, questions about how I manage to cook dinner for so many kids, hearing “wow, your hands are full” for the hundredth time, or my favorite, “what, were you like pregnant for 7 years straight?” I did not think too much of it until Thursday when we were driving home from an outing at the mall and my eldest spoke up.
“Mom, why do so many people say stuff about how big our family is?”
I laughed. This was the first time any of the kids had acknowledge they noticed. For some reason, it took me by surprise and I laughed. The very next moment I wanted to cry. Even though 90% of the comments were directed at me, it became clear that little ears were listening and little eyes were watching. As a result her little heart was hurting. I listened to my beautiful 6 year-old tell me that she was embarrassed. She told me how she wished people would not constantly say stuff about our family and how she was upset. I shared that not everyone understands how lucky we are and that it is so cool that she will be surrounded with love for the rest of her life.
I left that moment deep in thought. How many families encounter something similar to this? You don’t have to be a “crazy adoptive family” like us to experience the reality that words have the power to damage. I left this moment determined to be more intentional with my own words and to find moments each day to use my words to encourage those around me. I decided to write this in hopes that, as a community, we can join together to lift families up, to lift each other up. It is hard enough being a parent. Heck, it’s hard enough just being a human being. I hope you will consider joining me. #whynotlove
Foster Arizona CEO & Foster /Adoptive Mom