Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Confessions of an Accused Octo-Mom

After bearing five children in ten years time, I've grown accustomed to hearing the same comments over and over.

"Are they all yours?" Uh, no. I just run a program for disadvantaged children who've never been grocery shopping with their Mom before.  
"Boy, you must have a lot of fun at your house." Yeah, when they're all sleeping.
"Wow, you must be a super mom or something." Aw shucks. I really am.
"Are you going to have any more?" Yeah, we heard they're cheaper by the dozen.

Of course I've never actually uttered a witty comeback like those in my life, but that fact doesn't keep me from daydreaming about the day when I stun an innocent bystander with my dazzling wit after they unknowingly become the fifth inquiry of the day into my child bearing plans.

Yesterday an acquaintance cheerfully told me that I was like the " 'octo-mom' who just kept on having kids". After stuttering a little at the fact that she had just told me that I looked pregnant (darn brownies that Cami keeps making), I started to capture the full gist of the new insult she'd just thrown my way.
living with her mother,
FOURTEEN kids all by IVF,
attention seeking.

married almost 16 years to the same man,
both of us are college graduates,
living independently for nearly 20 years,
5 kids all loved, wanted, and cared for,
shy and quiet...okay maybe I do like a little attention too, but I do prefer to stay out of the tabloids at least.

And really, so what if were pregnant and actually did want NINE more kids? Would that make me like her?

No way. Not if we had the time and means to care for them all in a loving environment.

So usually I give people the benefit of the doubt in situations like this and assume that they didn't really mean it the way they said it, but in this instance I feel like she really was being intentionally hurtful to me and it's driving me crazy!

I know I'll have to see her at Cami's graduation tomorrow and I've been pondering over what I should do.

Maybe I should calmly confront her and tell her how I feel and hope she takes it well. Since I express myself better in writing than speaking I've thought about handing her a letter (or this blog post) that expresses my feeling. Or I could attempt to avoid her completely, and give her glaring looks whenever her back is turned. Or maybe I could just pick up the Sunbeams in our ward (about 25 kids) on the way to the graduation and we could just sit in the seats surrounding her (and then I would hide), but then again that one could backfire on me.

I've never once in my life confronted someone in a situation like this, but I do feel like I need to make some kind of resolution with her, so I can let it go. I'm just not that used to blatant insults being thrown my way.

What do you think I should do?


Steve-Rosanna said...

Unfortunately Lara, you inherited another one of my weaknesses, as I can never ever think of a good retort until at least an hour or two and the perfect opportunity have already passed. Some people are really good with quick comebacks, but I have always been challenged by this.

I agree that this is one incident that begs for a response. Whether you write it down and reply verbally or hand her a letter-you can not allow this to pass unanswered. Although many would probably counsel you to simply consider the source and allow this one to pass-she needs to know how this rudeness affected you. So, please give it to her (nicely) with both barrels! I wish that I could be there and be a fly on the wall.

P.S. I really like the 23 Sunbeams solution!

Give her heck and please report back to us.

Love, Dad-Mom

K said...

Tell her your sister and all five of your kids are black belts in Karate and to watch her back.

Pete said...

Three options:

#1. If she meant it as an insult, then I would let it go. In my experience, the best thing to do is to not let people like that lady get a reaction from you. That might be what she wants. . .

#2. If she didn't mean it as an insult, then you could ask her what she meant by it and explain that you are NOTHING like octo-mom. She may have just blurted it out and regretted it as soon as it came out. I never do that, so I wouldn't know what that is like ;)

#3. Find something about her or her lifestyle that you could casually make fun of. It would be perfect if she was from West Virginia.

alexandra said...

I say you tell her that her comment was so noteworthy that it made good fodder for your highly-read blog. Then you could either let her know how to access your blog or just leave the comment out there. It will kill her to wonder what you posted.

Karey said...

I agree with Pete and Alexandra - in confronting her, your intent is not to get a quick apology - that won't really make you feel better. You just want to let her know that what she said was shocking and amazing enough that you had to immediately blog about it and share your amazement that someone could say something that stupid. Now that might make you feel better :)

Deanne said...

I have no idea what you should do. I'm terrible in these situations as well. But I think Alex and Pete have great advice!

Making light of it by mentioning you used it as fodder for your blog is a casual way to bring it up and let her know that it did bother you a bit.

Aitch said...

Here's my two cents: If this is a woman that you only see occasionally because she's a parent of one of Cami's friends, then I probably would not confront her. Because it sounds like she's not the kind of person you would be interested in becoming good friends with, I would simply be polite when you see her and be prepared with a comment if she says something rude again.

If this woman is a friend and this is aberrant behavior, then I might try to address the issue in a conversation.

And for the record . . . There is zero comparison between you and the octomom and you do not look like you are pregnant!!!!

Lolli said...

I never think of the good comebacks until well after the fact. And I have also heard ALL of those lines, including the So when is your baby due" when I was NOT pregnant! I feel your pain. I have NOT, however been accused of being like Octomom. How rude!

Denise said...

Honestly Lara...I wouldn't do anything.

I have come to realize that people that hold these types of beliefs...and essentially belittle what we do and who we are will never be persuaded to believe otherwise.

All you can do is keep doing what you have been doing...being the best woman, mother, etc. that you can be.

Example is the best teaching tool that you have, and if she knows you and is still stupid enough to say something like this to you, then frankly, she isn't worth you time.

Cast not your pearls before swine.

But, really a lot easier said than done. Just realize that you don't have anything to prove to her and try to let it go.

And in the meantime...keep thinking of good retorts when people say these silly things and work up the nerve to use one.

Hugs my friend.

C and Co. said...

Dilemma!!! Here's my 2 cents. I'm not saying don't say anything but if you decide not to say anything, take comfort in the fact that people often project onto others their own insecurities. Maybe she wishes her home was filled with cute kids like yours or that she had your patience and energy. Maybe she wishes she could let herself enjoy brownies every night cooked lovingly by her daughter. Maybe she wishes she was as tactful and polite and happy as you. So, if you decide not to say anything, everytime she passes by, you can smile, hold your head high and think, "she just wishes she was me."

Charlene said...

You have received some great advice and nothing I say would be any better than what others already have told you. I don't do well with confrontations, so I usually let it go and not waste my energy or time on the comments people make, but not before I share EVERYTHING about the situation with my hubby first to get it out of my system!

the mom~ said...

Hi-I'm a friend of Charlene's and your title in her side bar caught my attention so I had to hop over and see what it was all about...IMO I say let it go. Why waste the energy giving her any more attetnion over the matter. You know who you are and so does Heavenly Father...that's all that matters! :)

Deon said...

Well I think you probably already saw her again by the time I am commenting. I am anxious to hear what happened. I think in these situations, I personally am going to ask people, "what did you mean by that"? Then you'll know what to do. It could have been meant as an insult, or she could have walked away kicking herself for saying something like that. By asking that question, you would know.

angela said...

Lara, there are so many people who don't understand why we want to have big families for many different reasons. She doesn't know or understand. I think it is her ignorance on this matter. I cannot imagine ANYONE ever wanting to insult you intentionally. I am a wimp and dispise confrontation, so I wouln't dare say anything about it.

Andie said...

Totally agree with C and Co. I'm sorry, but I know the type. The comment was probably made with a smile but it's obvious that it was really meant as a dig. That kind of person is sooooo not worth your time or energy.

You are an easy target because you are so amazing! And your kids are amazing too! {HUGS} :)

Annette said...

Hmmm, tough one. I think I would let it go, but I'd be prepared with those 25 darling Sunbeams and a witty comment about blog fodder if there is a next time from her. Good luck.

Mirien said...

I read this too late to offer any advice, but you didn't need it. I think I'd have taken the same approach you did. When we lived in CO and ND I always got comments and stares about my kids, and I didn't even have 6 then. I used to feel so much pressure to make sure that my kids were well-behaved, well-groomed, bright, and talented so that no one could say, or think, "Well, no wonder--she has too many kids." When I'm around friends of other faiths, I also feel like I can't show that I'm overwhelmed--I have to be happy and make it clear that I love my life and I chose it. And the prideful part of me wants others to know that I have a college degree and had a brief career before my oldest was born.

And just when I think I'm doing better at not caring what others say or think, I'm thrown into a situation (like a party with my husband's co-workers and spouses)where I'm an anomaly and I can't think of anything witty to say when another woman says "I don't know how you do it--I would be so bored at home!" so I sit quietly and feel more and more like a mousy homemaker.

For me, the best cure is talking and blogging with other women who have made the same choices I have and wouldn't have it any other way, but who aren't afraid to reveal that some days are hard and not so glamorous. That is what I love about your blog!

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