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.