I'm sitting in a chair, waiting to do an interview for my job, when she walks through the door, this woman I haven't seen in eight months but have known for years, and she looks at me and drops her mouth and says, "Oh my God. Don't tell me you're pregnant again."
And it's obvious that my six-months swelling belly is not the bloating of a meal gone wrong.
I just smile and wait for the words I know will come, and she doesn't disappoint me.
"Don't you know by now how this happens?" she says.
No, I don't. Would you please enlighten me? Because, good Lord, who wants six accidents like I've got?
That's what I want to say. I don't, of course.
I usually try to take these comments with good humor and lots and lots of patience, because I know people are just trying to say something, and they think it's funny, and they don't know how many times I've heard it before.
But now that we are entrenched in our fifth pregnancy, the comments happen during nearly every encounter with someone I haven't seen in a while.
"You're pregnant every time I see you," someone else says today, and I just shake my head and flash my obligatory smile and wait for the next punch.
And it comes, just like I thought it would, from a guy who flippantly remarks, "Yeah, my wife and I believe in family planning."
And it's this misconception right here that makes me want to scream it from the rooftops: Just because we have a large family doesn't mean we didn't family plan.
Sure, maybe we didn't plan in the "traditional" ways, with birth control pills and rings and prevent-a-pregnancy cups, but there are other ways to family plan, like counting days and taking temperatures and being careful.
It may be news to many, but every one of our six babies was planned (well, except for the extra twin we didn't anticipate).
I know it's hard to believe that a family in our day and age and a society like this one would choose to have six children, and maybe it seems a little crazy (it is) and wildly expensive (yes), but we did. And even though there are days when I wonder if we really were crazy, and I shudder to think about our grocery bill in a few years, and I cringe beneath the insensitive comments of other people, I wouldn't change a thing about our lives.
I used to be one of the most annoying control freaks a person could ever be. I used to think a clean and tidy house was a non-negotiable. I used to walk through life distracted from the best parts -- all those tiny little pieces I needed a child to show me.
Now I'm the mama who can't keep up with school paperwork and says oh well, and I'm the mama paying library fines every few weeks, and I'm the mama stepping over a discarded shoe and laughing about how this one is here and the other is clear across the room, balancing on the edge of a couch top, and how in the world did that happen?
Now I'm the mama who will slide down stairs in an oversized box just for a laugh from my boys, even though I almost break my back. I'm the mama who laughs myself silly at an ABC song the boys recorded with their daddy and turned slow motion. I'm the mama who stops on the walk to school so we can observe the ways those squished earthworms look like a J and an L and an S and an E, and who cares if we're late?
I like this person I've become.
So, to all the people who feel the need to comment on how maybe we need to take our hands off each other until we can figure out where babies come from; and the ones who say we sure have a huge family and "better you than me," like having a large family is some kind of curse; and the ones who want to educate us on their ideas about family planning -- I say thank you.
Thank you for reminding me just how amazing my nontraditional-according-to-numbers family really is.
Thank you for helping me realize more clearly and firmly and surely that this is who I want to be, a mother of six boys, a woman losing a grip on her ordered-just-so life.
Thank you for showing me that this is family planning at its best.
Originally posted on Crash Test Parents.