It happened: I’m disgusting!

I was at BJs with Kiddo#3 in a car-cart and Kiddo#4 in the sling. Everyone loves K4 when he’s in a sling. There’s just his head showing, and his cuteness is so awesome that he pulls small objects into his orbit.

The employees at BJs know my kids and me by sight because (I’m told) my kids may be the only ones in Angeltown who say “thank you” when they receive a free sample. Therefore, the arrival of K4 has been a cause for smiles among the employees.

Except for one, who looked at me with an expression approaching disgust and said, “You have ANOTHER one?”

Last week, I got the same question and responded by looking at the baby and shrieking in surprise, “Where the heck did that come from?” (By the way, the most frequent comment I’ve gotten has been folks pointing to Kiddo#3 and saying, “I remember when you had him!”) But this time, I merely said, cheerfully, yes.

She said, “Another boy?”

I agreed. She said, “Two boys?”

I said, “Three boys. And one girl.”

That’s when she couldn’t help it any longer, and the barely-suppressed disgust overtook her.

In some people’s world, it’s acceptable to have a third child…and maybe even a fourth, maybe…only if you’re looking for that magical child of the opposite gender. But here I had admitted to spawning unnecessarily.

I made no response to her look. Finally she said, “oh,” as if I’d said something unbelievably rude and shameful, only I was too stupid to understand what I’d done.

I took revenge on her the best way possible: by smiling at her and going on my way.

Because guess what? I did not ask the BJs employee for permission to have another child. She may not approve, but she’s also not responsible for raising this child. She will never pay one dime toward his support nor lie awake one minute worrying about him. At the same time, I promise never to share the joy of watching this little guy smile, or playing with his “petit-ie feeties” or teaching him it’s fun to receive a smooch. She won’t ever see him burst in the door from the school bus exclaiming that he got a hundred on his spelling test or see him stomp up the walkway and slam the front door, smoldering about the way the teacher scolded him. She won’t have to buy him shoes and wonder where those tiny feet went so quickly, or repair jeans with holes in the knees, or swallow a wave of nausea when he comes in telling me bugs don’t taste good.

For the most part, there’s been delight at the arrival of Kiddo#4. The inevitable “He’s so cute,” and a few surprising admissions of “I wish I could have another one.” There have been people telling us we’re brave (no, he’s not that frightening; it was more frightening to start having kids than to keep having them) and people telling us we’re blessed (which we are) and people who only want to look and admire. There are guesses of which of us he looks like and people telling me “He’s so big!” and “He’s so tiny!” and endless questions about whether he keeps me up at night (Not as much as Kiddo#3 has been, to tell you the truth.)

This was the first disgust, and it surprised me. I can advocate making different choices. It makes sense that others might be confused at our family size. I can understand moral superiority if she thought she was saving the world by not creating another human to use resources. I knew we might get nasty comments along the lines of “Don’t you know what causes that?” (yes, we do, thanks for asking) but why the hatred of something I’ve freely chosen?

This is the wrong place to speculate, I suppose. Individuals who are profoundly disgusted by the concept of having four children wouldn’t read a weblog called “Seven angels, four kids, one family.” But I can’t help but wonder what incident or what unresolved hurt created her visceral revulsion against a mom with four kids and her three-week-old baby.


  1. Kit

    That’s just hideous. We’ve had all sorts of uncharitable comments about having a 10 year gap between #2 and #3 (“What were you thinking? What were you DRINKING?”). Coming from people who don’t know us very well, or at all, I don’t care – I smile and look at a fixed point beyond their ignorance. Harder to do with comments from friends and family who DO know us – and that I had 7 miscarriages in 7 years trying to get to #3. (“How could you do that? You’ve ruined your life! You’ll be in your 50’s when he leaves home! How selfish and unfair of you to make him have OLD parents!” ) Thanks Mom.

    Bottom line – he is my beautiful miracle baby, the answer to prayers, cure of sorrow and despair, and our lives are better having him here.

    I’ve said it on this subject before, and I’ll say it again – I wish people had as great a capacity for compassion as they do for criticism.

  2. Kit

    (Not sure why the smiley popped up there, overuse of parentheses?)

  3. philangelus

    I’m not sure either. I fixed it.

    I’m so sorry you got that kind of treatment. πŸ™ And I’m so very sorry for the loss of your seven little ones.

  4. xdpaul

    I have four siblings, so, if I do my figures properly, that means…let’s see folks had five children.

    Maybe it is a rural thing? We weren’t even the biggest family on our side of the gravel road.

    By the way, your ranking system is off. Smiling and going on your way is only the #3 best way of exacting revenge. Number #2 involves a glass-encrusted, gasoline-doused, flaming corked baseball bat (cork for, you know, the reverb…) and of course Number #1 is the Lord’s.

    My favorite quote of Rich Mullins came when he would say something like: “I know that ‘Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord.’ I just want to be about the Lord’s work.”

    But you are probably right, #3 was a good choice. Anyone who would roll their eyes at the living expression of God’s commandment and grace is in a world of pain and numbed by the poor anesthesia of a culture of doubt. Pray mercy.

  5. ivyreisner

    My dentist gave me five rules. Anyone who isn’t in compliance with all five, need fix his own life before daring to complain about how another is living.

    1- Be independent. Be strong enough to not be a burden on society if possible.
    2- Be interdependent. Share strength and support with others.
    3- Improve the world, if only in small ways.
    4- Be noble. Never turn towards evil nor turn a blind eye to suffering.
    5- Be kind. Be kind. And be kind.

    The last rule is the kicker, for the one who is truly kind will find little cause to hurt the feelings of someone else.

  6. xdpaul


    I think you had a typo. Where do we get to stick the vengeance part?


  7. philangelus

    Ivy, I want to know where your dentist got his doctorate in philosophy and/or theology before I make that my rule of life. I mean, it’s good, but I’m not sure “Vengeance” doesn’t have a place in it. πŸ˜‰

    xdpaul, I’ve found that often, “Judicious stupidity” is the best response when someone is attempting to insult me. Just pretending to be so stupid I don’t “get” their innuendo, hostility, or cowardly passive-aggressive commentary often stops it cold. These people don’t have the backbone to come right out and say whatever nasty thing they want to, so acting as if they’ve said “Nice weather we’re having” (or even worse, acting as if I’ve been complimented!) would force them to come right out into the open with the nastiness and be aggressive-aggressive instead. Which they won’t do. Because they’re cowardly.

    I love that Rich Mullins quote… He was so awesome.

  8. karen =^.,.^=

    {{hugs}} you’re so not disgusting. kids are awesome. i only have three but i like them rather well. πŸ™‚

  9. Ggoose

    I have four as well. I suspect the ire of such folks is the simple fact that children — being a blessing — are a powerful witness. They are a witness to sacrifice as a virtue. They, especially in great numbers, are a complete skewering of the lie that economic realities make it impossible for most people to care for them. They are also a witness that the future belongs to the ideals of parents who dare to have them. Finally they are a witness to hope. There is something about a smiling child that reveals to the hopeless that there was a time in life when they had hope. Whatever it is that squashed their hope finds its face in little people who they presume have as dim a future as they have determined they have. Rather than pursue hope, they chastise the hopeful. In the end they will find it difficult to pass on their “virtues” to a progeny that doesn’t exist. That is the ultimate reality of it. Of course having kids bothers them. It challenges everything they stand for without a single word needing be said.

  10. xdpaul

    I agree with everything above, especially the really smart things I said. Having said that, I think it is equally important to remember that those who chose to “live as Paul” did have a world of opportunities before them, and those who never, for reasons beyond their control, are able to have children, have a separate set of opportunities.

    The real point is that the “childgrumps” are of the family “grumpas”, along with the “snottyparent” and “childless egotist.” Those who embrace chastity, peer companionship or children as the distinct blessings that they are are so full of the life they’ve been given that they are physically unable to waste time or energy rolling their eyes at those who are not like them.

    So, despite my Louisville Slugger-based catalog of revenge fantasies, everybody else here has the right idea. And leave the payback to the Sneetches with “stars on thars.”

  11. alicia

    I really love Marie Bellet’s song “What I Wanted to say” which is about taking her large family to the supermarket. She is a wonderful singer songwriter with her priorities on straight. You can order her CDs online.
    She also has a song which I interpret to be about a miscarriage (Thy WIll be Done) on the same CD.
    I have 6 children, and have also had 4 miscarriages. At this point in my life, I wish that we had been more generous with God and had a few more children. Yes, it was tough, but what else is life for? People!

  12. marley howards

    Kids are a blessing and sometimes people forget that they are because of the expense that comes along with it. But hey, the expense and possible heartache is so small compared to the joy that they bring… πŸ™‚

  13. ivyreisner

    You know, I can’t help wonder if the BJ lady might have been jealous. I mean, maybe she wants kids and can’t have them, and there you are, with another beautiful, wonderful baby, and she lashes out because yet again, last night, her test showed up negative.

    Okay, maybe not.

  14. philangelus

    It could be, actually, and that’s Reason Number 98723489732 not to lash out at someone who seems to hate large families. “Why is SHE allowed to have kids and I CAN’T?”

    I tried not to let it show, but it did hurt after Emily died when someone would announce a new pregnancy. (Actually, when supportive friends announced, that didn’t bother me. It was when someone who’d been awful to us and brushed off our pain that announced it — that would hurt.) It felt as if the whole world was moving forward and I was rooted in place.

    Based on what I guess her age is, I don’t think this woman was actively TTC, but maybe her daughter is infertile and wishes she could have kids, and the employee was feeling a would-be-grandmother’s pain.

  15. alicia

    or maybe she wishes that she had been willing or able to have kids earlier in life – or maybe she is post-abortive ( more common than just about anyone realizes – I have some clue because I take medical histories on several hundred women a year) – or who knows what? The best thing to do is to say a quick prayer for her healing and move on.

  16. philangelus

    …of course, it never occurred to me to pray for her. πŸ™ Some Christian I am, huh? I’ll do that.

  17. Krista

    I will never understand people who pass judgment on other people’s family size. If you want a large family and can take care of them all, great. If you don’t want a large family and one (or none) is enough, that’s great too.

    Every child should be as wanted and blessed as the little Tabris’s. πŸ™‚ And BJ lady…pffft. Pray for her if you can (I’m not sure I could) but otherwise, don’t let her get to you.


  18. Diinzumo

    Well, if you think of it in the grand scheme of numbers… Does society expect every woman to have two kids? Is that acceptable for the world’s “birth-giving machines” (to quote a certain Japanese politician)? In which case, you can tell your critics you’re merely making up for a horribly selfish friend who will have no children at all (me) so that the balance of the Earth is maintained.

  19. philangelus

    You’re not selfish. πŸ™‚ You know I never thought that, never felt that, and never will.

    But just for the sake of hyperbole, I could tell people I’m making little wage-earners to keep Social Security afloat for a few years longer. πŸ˜‰

  20. we're like crystal (ehell)

    I have to say that i don’t want people commenting on my choice not to have kids–so in turn, I would never comment on the number of kids they choose to have–it’s a different choice for everyone.

    BTW I dunno if i said this on the ehell thread, but belated congrats! I saw the vid on your other post and he’s soo cute πŸ˜€

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