Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Can I ask you a question?

Last week the kids and I attended a homeschool event held at the YMCA for the first time. Not surprisingly, of all the moms in attendance, I was the one with the highest number of children in tow, in addition to having the most colorful family. ☺ Also none too surprising, was the array of questions I received from other curious mothers about our lives and how I manage.

It's funny, because as I am well aware of The List (you know, the list, right? The incredibly long one that's full of all the ((nosey, silly, inquisitive, laughable, rude, crass, judgmental)) things you're not supposed to ask a mother of a large family, or an adoptive mom, or a homeschooling family.....or any other kind of family that falls outside the range of what we consider "normal.") I am really not offended whatsoever by the questions I receive. I get it. I really do.

As a person with an inquiring mind who has always been interested in large/adoptive/homeschooling families, I have asked plenty of those questions myself. In fact, one time, many years ago, while standing in line at Target, I asked the man ahead of me how many bedrooms were in his house after I learned he had 9 children. Oh yes I did. It was because our family was growing and I was genuinely trying to figure out how people with heaps o kids do it! Will we need a mansion.....? Do you know what he told me in response to my Question From The List? With a smile, he chuckled and said "not enough." Right then and there, under the bright fluorescent lights where the giant red bulls eye reigns supreme, he taught me that they were making do, and happily so, since he had already shared with me he and his wife's love of children and family. I'll never forget it. (Although I may have had he lectured me on the social impropriety of asking such intrusive questions.)

I rarely ever, ever feel an overwhelming desire to "educate" people on how to address me or discuss my children. Even with the barrage of interesting remarks we receive, and trust me, there are some doozies! Usually, I can easily decipher what they are intending to ask, even if they don't have the politically correct phraseology. And truthfully, I'd rather they just come out with it anyway as try to dance around the subject with terms I deem acceptable to my delicate sensibilities.

I don't mind freely acknowledging that yes, my husband and I know what causes it. Or that I am, in fact, NOT my African children's birth mother and that it was never part of Perfect Plan A that they would become mine. I do parent them but we can neither deny nor ignore that they are not my real flesh and blood. Or that they are siblings now but this wasn't the case before we welcomed them into our family.

It's not difficult to grasp why folks would be interested. Lord knows, I've shared many of same curiosities about people I've seen out and about from time to time. (I may have even fallen prone to an occasional urge to stare or quietly, under my breath, count offspring.) I don't blame others for wanting to know how/why/where we do what we do, nor do I fault them for not being aware of the most properly appropriate, most highly suitable words with which to pose an inquiry. Usually, when I am fortunate enough to come across an unusual family, I find myself in the same boat as those who approach me wanting to talk about my life. I'm just a person trying to figure out what makes those beautifully unique, wonderfully busy, extravagant by design families tick. And, perhaps, in the process of asking them a question and receiving an answer, I might learn a thing or two that will deeply  inspire, teach, encourage or change me. Maybe their response will even stay with me forever.....

*************
p.s. I used a relaxer on my Ethiopian daughter's hair.
Twice. (Which has made our lives loads easier.)
So, no one has ever accurately accused me of being politically correct either.

7 comments:

Deanna said...

Meadow's hair is so cute!!! Good job!

Tisha said...

Thank you! We can actually comb through it now without tears. :)

Barry said...

You have a large family?

Anonymous said...

I think I am definitely one of "those question askers;" however, when I "pick someone's brain" about such things...it always comes with a deep sense of appreciation for having the courage and faith to have a "different" kind of family.

--Jen

EM said...

I don't have a big family...yet. But we do some things differently than all our friends, and I sometimes just get tired. Tired of trying to tell people how I manage, when I'm never quite sure how I'll get through the next day. I get tired of being polite, and making jokes, and being patient and explaining, explaining, explaining. I know the questions come from concern, interest, curiosity and even love, but sometimes I just long to be understood. Hmmm, maybe that would be easier if I actually understood myself! Thanks for your post and showing me the positive side of the interrogation process.

lindsey said...

i thought i saw you at PTC coconference, but had already stalked too many blogers there, so was it you.

Tisha said...

Barry, that picture of *you* is awesome. :) Yes, I believe our family may be larger than average.

Jen - I'm with you. And, it always comes across as gentle and encouraging when someone like you is doing the asking, as opposed to someone who is obviously judging!

Erin, I know what you mean. The other day when I was asked the most broad question of all, "how do you do it?" I had NO good answer to offer! How I do it is sometimes really terribly! And other times pretty well....
It is good to be understood. That's why we have each other, right? ;-)

Lindsey, I was not at Empowered to Connect. I was planning on going and had a ticket, but my husband was unable to get that Friday off work so I could not make it. I heard it was wonderful though! Wish I could have been there.

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