Friday, June 8, 2007

Response to Mother of One

I have had it on my mind to comment on a couple of posts found in my comment section. So, even though it has been a few days, I am going to try to get to them both today. Here's the first:

As the mother of an only child, I would like to offer you one piece of advice (in two parts) to help your big family look good to smaller families:a. When a parent of fewer children is complaining about something her child did or feeling overwhelmed, never say, "You think that's bad? Just imagine dealing with that AND four other kids!"b. When a parent is talking about something she does that you don't do, never say, "Oh, that's great, but it's just not possible to do that with a bigger family."I hear both of these surprisingly often, and they strike hard at my general tendency to view moms of many with awe and respect!

Thank you, and I agree, constant references to family size can be tedious. I do have one friend who has several children, and she does tend to frequently refer to the number. I tend to get tired of people always referring to our number of children and making comparisons, just like you. Except it's in reverse! I have friends with small families who reference some challenge with their child or with housework, and it's they who say, "Well I'm sure you have it much worse," or some such comment. My response is always something like, "well laundry is laundry, and it's never fun." I really believe that we cannot know the stresses or challenges of another, and even though a family only has 1 or 2 children, they may be dealing with issues that does make their day to day life more difficult.

However, I would add, that perhaps the mother with many children who is making the comments about the magnitude of her challenges, is truly overwhelmed. Many children do bring much work, and perhaps this lady is feeling the burden. I am very grateful for my friends who have smaller families who offer to give rides to my children to events or take on the brunt of organizing things at Church for all our children.

Your second point is about mothers referring to things you can do that they aren't able to do, given the size of their crew. I may be guilty of this! I don't know what others' motivation is, but I can tell you mine. In fact, this is a topic I have intended to write about, but I'll just touch on it now. I think this may stem from guilt! Often I envy the mother who has fewer children and has time. She has time to go on neat field trips, time to organize home school theatre productions, time to do cool time lines and unit studies and crafts. Perhaps this comment is more of a compliment about all the nice things you do for your child, nice things that a mother of many looks upon with a touch of envy.

I guess, in a way, these comments, and your reactions, is about a perceived divide. A perceived divide between big families and smaller families. I just don't think one really exists. Where there are misunderstandings, let charity reign.

Peace, Hope