I had a conversation yesterday with a woman who grew up in the same hometown as me. She’s a few years younger than I am, was nursing a baby, and I asked if she had any more kids.

“Yes, we have four.”

I reacted with a surprised, “Really? Wow!” I promptly followed that up with, “I’m sorry, that was a stupid thing to say: I have four kids!” I have dealt with all kinds of reactions to my posse of children, wishing people wouldn’t make such a big deal out of the size of my family, yet I did the same thing to someone else. Why?

I guess it’s because large families really are unusual. Four isn’t a large number, but by today’s standards I suppose it is. We chatted a bit more with another mom of five about peoples’ reactions to large families, and I said that I used to care a lot about how I was perceived, but by God’s grace I’m pretty much over it. Most of the time I am oblivious to what people think of me and my life choices.

Then this morning happened. My littlest had an eye appointment and since we’re weird homeschoolers, we all go everywhere together on a “school day” in a mob of small people (I guess I am included in that – I’m not tall). We’re short, but anything but inconspicuous. A woman seemed to be racing us to the entrance, so I asked Markus to get the door.

Rather than saying thank you to such a polite young man who would hold the door for a woman, she rudely exclaimed, “Oh my goodness, that’s a lot of kids!” I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. I’d tried to tell myself that she was taken off guard like I was yesterday. I know people often feel the need to say something, and it can come out before thought is given to how it’s delivered. But the truth is you say a lot without words, and her sour tone and expression were tell-tale signs of the attitude behind her comment.

My bad. How irresponsible of me to be raising so many children who are polite and thoughtful.


The temptation to defend myself to a total stranger is not high (anymore). I don’t owe her an explanation. I do wrestle with how to approach these situations in conversation with my kids though. Yes, I do have a lot of kids, and their ears all work. They hear rude comments like these. Are they internalizing these things, or do they go in one ear and out the other? Do I address it with them later, or let it slide? I don’t know what’s going on in their minds and I don’t want to make a mountain out of something they might not even recognize as an anthill. Do I tell them some people are jerks but we pray for grace to be kind to them? I know I need that reminder.

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