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"You have my sympathies."

Last weekend I went on the Joy for Journey retreat.  This was a retreat for adoptive moms and pre-adoptive moms.  Because the retreat was Christian, my hubby and kids decided to wait for me to go to mass.  We went to a local parish that has a Sunday evening mass.

When mass was over and I was walking with my boys, down the aisle.  An older women looked at me and asked, "No girls?" 

I have gotten this question before.  And although I do not understand why people of all ages seem to think it necessary to comment on the fact that we have boys, I try to handle it with grace.

So, I smiled, nodded and said, "No, three boys."

A look of pity shone on her face, "You have my sympathies."

I had her sympathies??  Now, normally, I would just smile and ignore the horribly rude comment.  After all, my boys were right there.  And she was implying that, because I had them, somehow I was in need of sympathy.

But at that moment, I could not let it pass.  Maybe it was because I had just spent my weekend listening to adoptive moms and adult adoptees share who important it is to stand up for your adopted child in public when the rude comment, or overly curious questions come.  My kids, adopted or not, need to hear me combat those negative comments by strangers that somehow imply that their mom is to be pitied because she had them.

"I do not need your sympathy.  I am blessed with these boys."  I smiled and kissed the head of the son closest to me.

I must have caught her off guard.  She stammered a bit and then said something else I no longer remember.  I think she may have even mentioned that she had three boys too.  I do not know.

What I do know is that whether you have three children under three, a family of 10, all girls, all boys, or a multiracial family brought together by adoption, the negative comments do come.  Sometimes they come from others who are curious and are just trying to be nice, but are a bit misguided.  And sometimes the comments come and we may want to shout, "Yes!  Give me your sympathy.  These kids are driving me crazy!"  

However, there are little ears surrounding us, waiting to hear what we will say, how we will respond.  And, really, there is a world of ears out there.  Will we stand up for our kids in that moment, and gently be a witness to the beauty of family life and the gift of children, or will we shrink from allowing our kids to hear what a gift they are?

I am not sure if what I said to that lady at mass will make any impact on her life or of the others who also heard our interchange.  But I do know that it made a difference to three little boys, that day, who all walked out of church with the biggest smiles on their faces.

Oh, yes, little men, this mom is abundantly blessed to have you in her life!  Each and every loud, crazy and exhausting day of it!


  1. Amen! Pretty sure I could have written this post. I think the hardest for me to hear is from other Catholic moms who express how much they want a boy or girl or whatever next time around. We're to be genuinely open to whatever gifts God wants for us, not somehow happier if our baby is our preferred gender. We are so undeserving of these children and the longer I'm a mother the more I realize how they are pure gift to our family. If we are blessed again, I'm already realizing I'm going to need to speak up more for my children's sake because the gender comments will come flying while pregnant...

    1. You wrote a much better one about something like this a little bit ago!

  2. It's funny, Mary Haseltine wrote an awesome blog about being charitable when people make comments about 'all those children' but how it really grinds her gears when people comment about her all boy family. It's funny, I guess never having any desire to raise girls (working with teenage girls gave me my fill) I will be so content with all boys. The comments about having my hands full with boys, and how lively our house must be, never upset me. However, I swear if one more person asks me if we are 'done' having children, I seriously think I am gonna deck someone. It is SO freaking rude and insulting in so many ways. Good thing to reflect on (our response). I'll admit, I usually say, 'I'd take three boys over three girls ANYDAY' which is not the best thing to say I suppose. I like your response!

    1. I never was really bothered by them too much either, at least enough to comment back, but the adoption retreat really impressed upon me the fact that our kids NEED us to say something. I often forget that these little boys of mine are hearing the exact same comments I am too.

  3. well said friend! We often get comments because of the close ages of our children or because of their challenges, etc. It breaks my heart- they miss out on the blessings that our family gets to receive but it also makes me realize that sometimes I need to be reminded of this incredible blessing I have been given to be their mama!

  4. Amen! We had four boys before we started adopting and people would say all sorts of crazy things about "all" boys. Now it is "seven?", "seven?" Yes, we have a chosen a large family, special needs, boys and girls! There is enough love, enough room (we move people around as needed), and yes God has always provided for us (thank you Jesus). Now I smile and if I can get a plug in for adoption!

  5. Beth,
    I hope to meet your family someday!! I bet it is amazing!

  6. Perfect response! You are an inspiration!

  7. Now that we have 3 girls, we've had some similar comments. I do believe most people make them with the best of intentions, but they often come across in the wrong way. When I was in my first trimester with #3, I was introduced to the wife of one of my husband's colleagues. I told her we had two girls and baby 3 on the way. "Oh," she said, "I guess if it's a boy then you'll be done!" Seriously - I had met this woman 3 minutes earlier and now she's preaching to me about our family plans! We would love a boy, yes, but we really love girls too! Way to go!

  8. Way to go, Katie! Now that we have 3 girls, we get similar comments. I think most are absolutely innocent and well intentioned, but they sure do come across in the wrong way. In my first trimester with #3, I was introduced at a social function to the wife of one of my husband's colleagues. She told me she had a boy and a girl. I told her we had two girls and baby 3 on the way. "Oh," she said. "I guess if it's a boy then you'll be done!" I was stunned. Seriously, I had met this woman less than 3 minutes before and she was pontificating on our family plans. I wish I had had a good comeback then. Yes, we'd love a boy, but we also love girls and are so thankful that our daughters will grow up with sisters!

  9. Ugh, I've had so many strangers verbally high-fiving me for 'getting' a girl this time around. I had one lady chase me down an aisle at Target this week and point to my massive 9-month belly while fairly shouting "that better be a girl in there!" as my two little boys looked on from their perch in the cart. I assured her we had finally hit the estrogen lottery, but I almost wish we hadn't decided to find out the sex ahead of time, per our usual route, because I would so love to explain that we'll be happy with whomever shows up. People say the stupidest things to mothers...

    1. Jenny-
      And now that we are adopting, so many people say, "You must be adopting a girl, right?" People give me the strangest looks when I tell them that we want another boy!


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