In Defense of My Big Family

The 4th of July fireworks are always a big deal in my town. It gets kind of crazy downtown. Some parking lots fill up beyond capacity with people parking, for example, in a bank’s drive-thru lane. People crowd in on the small strip of grass next to the pier to stare out at the gray sky above Lake Michigan. Then the show starts and people “ooh”, “ahh”, and clap. There’s plenty of kids around. Some are little ones with their parents or grandparents others are junior high girls who buy silly light-up toys while they  walk around in short-shorts with their boyfriend.

You would think, as a whole, this would be a family-friendly event. And, as a whole, it was fine. But….

As my family (and in fact not even my whole family) walked back to our 15 passenger van across a vacant lot I heard someone say something. At least I think I did. I nearly bumped into these two men. So I stopped and let them pass by (apparently they don’t believe in chivalry or common courtesy). One of the men, an older guy middle-aged or beyond said something to his buddy. It took me a moment but I deciphered it.

On the fourth of July he’d looked at my family with our kids and muttered “They should be on leashes”.

I walked on, stunned and offended. A moment later I turned around to see if there were any dogs around. He couldn’t have been talking about the kids. But I didn’t see any dogs.

I wanted to punch him.

We didn’t even have all of the kids with us. There was me, my eldest brother who’s in his mid-twenties. My 2 sisters who are 12 and 15. My 10 year old brother. And my baby 6 year old sister. So technically, there were 4 minors in the group. (Although of course, I look younger than I am and may have been mistaken for a high schooler.) So 4 or 5 kids. And a comment on leashes was warranted? Really??

I’ve gotten a lot of slack about having a big family in my life. Just the other day I was talking to a woman about my family and she asked if we were all natural births. When I said yes she said “well, seems like there should be an adoption in there somewhere”. Honestly, I love adoption. It’s beautiful. If I ever get married maybe my husband and I will consider adoption. But that woman, frankly, had no right to judge whether I should have had an adopted sibling or not. Just as this man had even less right to say my 6 year old sister should be on a leash.

Who even says something about leashes like that? It’s just cold-hearted. Children are a blessing (natural or adopted for that matter). But you don’t know a family’s story. You don’t know why they have 6 kids or 10 or 2. You don’t know if adoption was feasible on their budget. You don’t know what God had planned for them.

I think that’s what it boils down to. God has a plan. For my family His plan was that my mother would carry 8 kids to term, after having told herself as a teenager that she was never going to get married. My mom also had 4 miscarriages. I know that that was somehow part of God’s plan but if I could make a wish and have them here I would. Yeah, that would mean we would have 12 kids and an even tighter-packed house and probably get even more comments on our HUGE family. But I don’t care.

I love my family, and I love that it’s big. Go ahead and share your opinions. They’ll only ever be sticks and stones. And they might even remind me of my 4 siblings I’ve never met and make me wish that they were here just to show you all. Big families have more fun and more love. If you can’t see that it’s your loss.

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4 thoughts on “In Defense of My Big Family

  1. Oh my word, people these days! I wish I could have been there to have some snarky comment for the leash guy. Child leashes are cruel anyway (and can I just say who thinks a 6 year old needs one?)! And seriously? Was that lady saying your parents should have adopted instead of having all of you? Like, ERMAGRSH! Who even thinks these things? Keep being a witness to big, happy, Catholic families though. The world needs to see more of them 🙂

    • I can’t remember anyone saying anything as bad as that leash comment, though I’m sure I’ve heard different things. But you’re right some people these days just don’t get it! And child leashes ARE absolutely cruel.

      BTW I would love to hear your snarky comment! 🙂 As we walked away I was imaging what I would have said to him…something about keeping his big mouth to himself but I didn’t come up with anything particularly zingy. 😛

      • Hmmm, I can rarely think of really good responses in the moment, but I would want to say something to the effect of “Last I checked, my little sister isn’t covered in fur and doesn’t bark” while looking him square in the face.

        It’s funny because I never really remember someone saying things like this about my family (at least not as blatantly rude)…probably because I would have too much fun crafting snarky responses 🙂

      • Ooh and you definitely got to look him square in the face as you say it! haha
        And yeah he was pretty rude, though he was probably trying to be funny. He probably thought we wouldn’t hear him. Not sure anyone else in my family did actually. Or maybe he just didn’t care if we heard.

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