Going out in public these days is officially a circus.
Not because my children knock over $700 10-feet-tall stuffed giraffes in the toy store, narrowly missing the cashier’s head amidst her proclamation of seeing her life flash before her eyes (true story). Not because my children are little and cute, sporting things like pint-sized polo shirts and bouncy pigtails and little pink flip-flops, and strangers can’t help but smile at them (also true). And not because my children act like, well, children… at times when I wish they’d just stay still and quiet for two seconds (definitely true).
No, going out in public is officially a circus because I happen to have three children. They could be running around Starbucks like little tasmanian devils shooting nerf guns at the baristas’ heads (hasn’t happened yet, fingers crossed that it stays that way…) or they could be sitting angelically and adorably in the double stroller + ergo (which they did today). It wouldn’t matter – I’d get the eyes bugging out of heads and lots of wow/yikes/oh my! every time.
In the last two days I’ve been told no less than four times that “Wow! You have your hands full!” and have been referred to as a “group” (so we qualify for a group rate, then? excellent…). It usually starts with someone asking how old the baby is, then it spirals downward into how old the others are (especially when I phrase it as 3 kids 3 and under), how busy I must be (pshh, not at all…), and how brave I am (I have a feeling this may be code for crazy, yes?).
I just wanna know one thing: since when is three kids “a lot of kids“?
Answer: Since the 1960’s, I guess.
The fertility rate in our country fell below replacement in the mid-1970’s. That’s 2.1 kids per woman. We’ve been having less than 2.1 babies per woman for over four decades now. Having 7+ children hasn’t been in fashion since the 1870’s and prior, so sometimes I breezily tack on a “yup, and we’re hoping to have more!” just for the sheer fun of seeing people’s faces contort in awkward ways.
I also sometimes cheerily chirp something along the lines of “But I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling to do with my days!” in the hopes of perhaps redeeming a tiny bit of society’s stereotype of the harried, stressed, and burdened mother who sludges through her days with desperation and nothing even close to resembling satisfaction and happiness. It’s true – I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling. This, however, usually only serves to gain me more crazy-eyes and incredulous looks.
Having “lots” of kids and being truly happy in the midst of it is just not a common thing anymore. I get that. It just makes me kinda sad.
My days may be busy and my hands may be full, but let me tell you something…
It’s the best circus I’ve ever seen.