Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fitting In

So many times, when I read this blog I think to myself "it's as if she and I are living parallel lives!!"
When I read her post last Friday it was no different. Well, except I certainly wasn't skinny and awkward. I was plump and awkward.
Still am.
But you probably already knew that.


Back to the issue at hand...

Here is an excerpt from her post:
Don't get me wrong. I have friends. But, I still so often don't know where I fit. I still feel awkward. Some of it may have to do with being an introvert. Some of it probably has to do with having a life that most people think is nuts. I feel it at church. Like no one knows what to do with me. They can't figure out how to be my friend. So instead I get treated like this sort of enigma. It happens at parks and homeschool outings. It happens pretty much everywhere I go. There have been situations where I have literally been surrounded by people bombarding me with questions. You know. The questions I always get asked. Are they all yours? How do you do it? Are you a superwoman? Is your house huge? What do you drive? Is your husband a doctor or a lawyer?

There are times when I am literally blown away by the questions people ask. One time, a woman asked me--seriously--if I remember all their names.
I should have asked her "do you really not know more than seven people?" (We *only* had seven children at the time.)

There have been times when we have been eating at another family's home or at a church dinner and things get a little hectic dishing up for so many little people and I start feeling so conspicuous--I usually try to crack a joke (can you say Chandler from Friends??) like "Bet ya didn't know you'd get dinner AND a show, didja" tee-hee, nervous giggle...

One of the very helpful things that some are very good at doing is coming up alongside and offering to help dish/carry a plate. That is so helpful and can really ease my fear of my kid being the one who spills at someone's house or at church.

We sang at a little church recently; we've been asked to sing there a few times a year for the last 8+ years.
Each time, it seems we either have a new baby with us or one on the way. Everyone just gushes about how all the kids sit so nice for church, or how well behaved they are...they're just so shocked to see a big brother who can carry a little sibling up the stairs or help them with their coat. (I don't think this should be shocking--it should be commonplace.)
Anyway, this Sunday was no different--until a kind, middle-age woman came over after the service, oohed and ahhed over Ivy, looked up at me and asked,
"So, do you ever think that, well, you know, that maybe you'll be, well, you know, ah, done?"
I really wanted to say, "done with what?"
Instead I said "We will take as many children as God chooses to bless us with."

Right after I said that, another lady walked over to see the baby and the first woman told the second about our conversation.
Except her version went like this:
"So I asked Melissa if they were going to be done now that they have 8 and she said 'I don't know...' "
Well, now, that's not what I said so I felt I should clarify.
So I did.

I told the two of them that about five years ago, we both felt God asking us to trust Him with our family, to let Him have His way in that area of our lives.
At which point the first lady chimed in with "And He has!!"

I just don't see why people feel it is so important to know whether we are "done".
Why does it matter so much to others?

Today in the grocery store, the checkout lady asked me again--as she does every time I go to her aisle which I avoid like the plague but Dennis was with today and doesn't know that I do--what number Ivy was. When I told her again that she is number 8, she asked me if we were going to be done now. And I gave my standard answer again.

I think I should start poking into other people's lives by asking questions like
"Have you cleaned between your toes lately?"
"How old are you? How much do you weigh?"
"Wow--I see your plate is really full! Are you really going to eat all that? Just you??"
or maybe
"How do you afford your new car?"
or even
"Whoa, that's a lot of earwax you got goin' on there. Can I get you a q-tip or something?"

But of course, I would never do that to anyone.
Because that would just be rude.

Another excerpt from Courtney:
Then of course there is the whole defensive thing. I find often people feel defensive around me. They want to explain why they don't homeschool. Or they haven't adopted. Or why their family is small. It doesn't matter that I don't ask them that. They just seem to feel the need to explain. And that makes things really awkward. Because if they really knew me and my heart, they would know that I am not judging them. In fact I really like having friends that have different lives from me. Clearly God does not have the same plan for every family.

I really don't get the explaining why they don't do everything just like me--when I didn't even ask. Which I wouldn't do anyway.

And when Courtney talks about how she can't talk about her struggles because she chose this life--oh, so true!!
It's true that I lose my patience. I yell at my kids. I get overwhelmed. Our house gets dirty. We have had to learn to make do in SO many situations. We don't get our school work done every day.
But I can't share this (well, except with everyone with the whole world on the internet) because I chose this life.

That makes for some lonely days.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's okay to ask questions. I love to answer genuine questions about our family.
But please don't treat us like a circus attraction.
And please, please, p-l-e-a-s-e don't ask us if we're "done"
'cause I'll really consider asking you how old you are and how much you weigh.


  1. love are sooo good at writing ...I can't tell you enough how much you and I think alike....almost kinda scary...=)

  2. Just tell 'em you're picking my end of the slack. :)

  3. Can I give you a hug across the state or internet--whichever works better?!

  4. You hit the nail on the head. I've never understood why acquaintances, or even strangers find it their business to ask such personal questions. And especially when it's done in a condescending tone. Good on ya for doing what God has called you to do!


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