couples

"The judgement I got when strangers thought I had 6 kids."

How many children are too many for one family? Six, according to strangers at my local shopping centre.

At first I thought it was because we had taken a chair from another table. My three children, two nephews and one niece were sitting down at my favourite coffee shop for some afternoon tea.

Yes, I had braved taking all six of the kids to the shops because after looking after them for most days during the school holidays, I really needed to get out of the house. And now that they are older – with the youngest aged five and the oldest aged 11 – I knew it would be okay.

So we’d borrowed a chair from another table and added it to two others we had just pushed together. Perfect.

I was taking drink and snack orders from them when I noticed three people on a table next to us glaring at me. I shushed the kids, thinking that maybe they were being too loud. I went to the counter to put in our massive order then rejoined them. They were all busy playing UNO, iPods and Connect Four which we had brought with us to keep ourselves occupied.

I sat down chatting to the kids as they played when I felt eyes boring into me from behind. I tried to ignore it, as well as the grumpy people on the table next to us but when I got up to get our drinks and food, I was given such a dirty look by a middle-aged man sitting on a table behind me that I stopped in my tracks.

Did I step on his foot or bang him with my chair?

I looked away as he and his companions started talking in what they thought were low voices but as I collected sugar packets, napkins and spoons I shamelessly eavesdropped. I couldn’t hear full sentences but did hear the words, “ridiculous” and “I feel sorry for them”.

That’s when it hit me. They thought all the kids were mine.

I only have three kids but have always wanted more.

My first reaction was amusement. How funny. How cute! They think all the kids are mine. I must tell my sister. She'll think it's so funny too.

Then, I felt outraged.

How dare they judge me and my family? How dare they judge anyone who chooses to have a large family?

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I felt offended on behalf of all women with lots of children because I've been thinking of having a fourth and in my thought process - while I thought of how we'd need a bigger car and grocery budget - it never occurred to me that my personal choice to have a large family may offend strangers.

I returned to my table and busied myself with taking care of the kids. Taking desperate sips of my delicious coffee. And I really wanted either of the mean, nasty, vicious people at either table to say something louder so I could tell them exactly what I thought of them.

So I started glaring back at them.

I pointedly looked at the ones next to us, so directly that they looked away, packed up and walked off. Then I turned around to the ones behind me and did the same thing several times over next ten minutes.

I was just so angry at them. How dare they judge me? How dare they judge any mother with a large family?

Of course, none of them had the guts to say anything to my face.

It's probably a good thing because it's not good to swear in front of your six children (I consider them all mine as does my sister).

So to all those people who have looked at us parents with judgement, with pity, with malice, I say, "Mind your own bloody business. It's none of your business how many children I choose to have. I pity you! I judge you! For judging!"

That's sort of what I would have said to them if given the chance.

Do you think parents with lots of kids deserve to be judged? Why do you think they were so offended by the thought of me having six children?

Like this? Then try:

My wife is crying over having a fourth child. What do I tell her?

"I can't have more kids, because of my car."

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