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!