Saturday, November 20, 2010

When it's time to shut-up

Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 
I was sitting in the waiting room of a doctors office earlier this week, picking up a friend from an appointment, unrelated to me or my pregnancy. An elderly lady across the room asked, "When are you due honey?" I replied, "Three weeks." and I'm sure I added, "Or less!"
She smiled and asked, "Is this your first?" and I said, "No, it's my fourth." She pleasantly replied, "Well, how nice!" She continued to chit-chat with me about my other children and told me she could predict what I am having from calculating my age at the babies conception, plus the birth month the baby is due in.  Supposedly the very mathematical total of those two components could then be converted, if the number was even, I am having a girl, if odd I am having a boy. To which it didn't add up correctly and we laughed!
She was very positive and encouraging, when she asked what the sexes of my other children were and I replied, "Girl, boy, girl and now a boy!"  she said, "That is just wonderful!"  And when the nurse called her back for her appointment, she kindly bid me good-bye and good-luck with my new baby.
This may seem like a rather strange thing to be blogging about, but it didn't occur to me until a day later, how good this conversation was still making me feel.  I am asked repeatedly, especially since I now look like the piggy bank, Hamm, from Toy Story, questions pertaining to the number of children I have.  And nine times out of ten, I am not exaggerating, the response is negative.  "You just wait 'til they're teenagers!"  "You don't know what you're in for!"  "How can you afford all those kids!"  "Are you crazy?!" and the one we hear more than any other, "Don't you know what causes that?!".  I think I've gotten used to these kinds of remarks, I've learned to smile and go on.  I've become so accustomed to these responses I guess I've come to expect them, and this is why I was so touched by this lady's genuine happiness for me.
Who do these people, most of them perfect strangers, think they are to give me their opinion on my life or be such downers.  This is an issue that crosses all types of people, friends, acquaintances, wealthy, middle class, churchgoers, non-churchgoers, people with one child, people with three children, divorced, married, single, working moms, and stay-at-home moms, I've heard it from people of many types of lifestyles.
I know that they are speaking from their own personal perspective, their own experience or lack of experience with having children.  But does anyone ever say to a stranger, or  a friend, "Can you really afford that car?  You just wait until it breaks down, it's not gonna last forever, you know!"  or  "What are you thinking living in such a big house?  Don't you think there is a better way to spend you money?  That's gonna take a lot of money to upkeep!"   I have never heard anyone ask these kinds of personal questions, or make negative comments to some else's joy over a new possession, but when it comes to children that is a different story.  And really, is there anything better to invest my life, time and finances in then the lives of children?
I am not opposed to people inquiring why we choose to have 4 children or if we plan to have more.  IF, they do it in a sincere and loving manner.  And this post isn't supposed to have anything to do with defending why we have four children, it's supposed to be about the power of our words.  I know that we all speak before we think and share our opinions far to quickly.  For myself, most of the time it's for nothing more than to defend myself and my life.
I really do want to come to the place where I do not care what others think of me, or feel the need to make others like me, to make myself feel better.  I want to be a better listener, and better encourager, even if it's to a perfect stranger!  And topic aside, I think we all can agree that eye contact and a friendly smile go a long way.  How many times does that happen at Wal-mart?  That's a rarity in and of itself!


mirandajean said...

I could have written this post! Ironically, my name is Miranda and I'm pregnant with our 4th. #4 is due 3 weeks after my oldest turns 7 so I get alot of "oh you sure have your hands full" or "havent you figured out what causes that" and for me, my first 3 are boys, so I get alot of "are you going to try for a girl?" or "hoping for a girl this time?". #4 actually IS a girl, but I would have been just as happy with another little boy! I had all 3 boys in the store with me one day and they were being rowdy and an older woman made my entire month that day, just laughing with them and talking with me and being so so sweet (turned out she was a mother of 4 grown boys). Anyway sorry this is so long:)

Over Thirty Mommy said...

I used to get negative comments all the time. The one that sticks with me most was from my mother-in-law (who bugged me non-stop about having children since I married her son) just after my 30th birthday when she said "I guess you've decided to never have kids".

I only have one child and am constantly being questioned by strangers, family and even my Dr. about when I am having my second.

Thanks for sharing that there are still some positive people out there.

Wanting What I Have said...

Amen. and Amen. I could NOT agree with you more!

I have a friend who had three in four years. Someone made a rude comment to her about that being a lot of children close together. Without missing a beat, she replied, "Actually, we're kind of frustrated. We were going for three in three years and we're a little behind" and then she walked off. Hee hee.

But seriously, I completely agree with you. What better way is there to invest your life than in your own children. You go girl!

Andrea said...

I hear you too...I only have 3 yet, but even then people comment about how "crazy" life must be, etc. And when they ask if we're having more and I say, yes...then we get the strange looks or the conversation gets "awkward" all of a sudden. BUT the other day at the grocery store a random lady came up to me and gave me the sweetest compliment - about how nice it was to see a young family with 'so many' children. :) I thought it was kind of funny that three kids is "so many", but I was really touched by her comment and the fact that she loved the looks of our growing family. :)