A couple weeks ago, after four days of Jack's non-stop "ouch" crying (if you have kids, you know the sound), I finally decided to take him to the pediatrician to check for an ear infection. (Side note: don't you wish you could do that at home? So annoying to go to the doctor just to have him shine light in their ears.)This isn't the easiest endeavor, but most days the girls have adjusted enough to cooperate with our "so sad, too bad, now get in the car" reality.
We came to the top of the stairs in front of the doctor's office in our traditional gaggle: me leading the way with Jack in my arms (I often leave the baby seat in the car now, it just ties up my arms too much to easily track the girls in parking lots and stores), Anna and Silvia following up in a line behind me. Of course, their version of a line involves more loops, skipping and doubling-back than most people would qualify as precisely linear. But I figure if they generally follow me it's basically the same thing.
As I went to open the door, two women stepped out and stared at me with a vaguely nasty look.
"Jeez! I feel exhausted just LOOKING at you! Three little kids, oh my god! You really have your hands full!". She then turned to her friend (as she let the door slam close in my face), "Can you just IMAGINE!? I am SO glad that's not me!".
Now, there are a number of things I could have said, from the passive aggressive, "Thanks for holding the door!" to the more pointed, "I'm glad it's not you, too, I'd feel sorry for the kids". Instead I just gave her a blank stare, opened the door again and ushered the girls through.
I let it slide for a couple reasons. Firstly, I was exhausted, it'd been a long day and I was worried about my baby (turns out he was fine, just randomly miserable). A needless confrontation with a stranger was pretty low on my to-do list, right under "wash poo out of car seat".
Mostly, though, I'm just used to it. People say this kind of shit to me ALL THE TIME. Some try to couch it nicely: "What beautiful children. You must be so busy, I don't think I could do it." However, more often than you'd imagine, the comments are nasty, whether intentional or not. The "I'm SO glad it's not me" one is my absolute favorite. I've heard it from strangers and friends alike.
Yes! I am busy! Often exhausted, even! And, wow! I actually DO have my hands full! What a great, huge, massive load of children I have! How terrible!
Except, excuse me, it's not terrible. It's hard, sure, but in point of fact, people through the years have had gaggles of kids (gaggles much more substantial than mine) and been JUST fine. Crazy thought, I know. I'm sure it's a hard concept to follow, so I'll try to keep it simple for the empathy-challenged of the world. I LOVE MY KIDS. Therefore, it is all worth it and often more rewarding in a way your little world will never know.
So next time, dear incredibly rude strangers of all varieties, keep your mouths shut. And hold the frickin' door.