My husband and I have four boys, ages 5 to 11. I'll let that sink in for a bit. It's a lot, I know. Four boys. Four. Boys. As you can imagine, we often cause quite a stir when we go out in public. And I do realize that by having such a large family, we've invited a lot of this attention on ourselves, but still, there are several things I wish total strangers would quit saying. And from my conversations with other moms, I'm not the only one who hears them.
1. Are they all yours?
No. No, they're not. I enjoy taking children grocery shopping so much that I picked up a few spares on the way. And that one, right there, the one who's licking sugar off the floor? He's especially fun to take in public. But he's got nothing on that one over there who is, I suspect, part gecko, because he can climb anything. Or that one who likes to pull fire alarms. You should try this some time. It's such a rush.
2. You know what causes that, right?
Heh. Yeah. It's called biology. And it works. And since I really enjoy biology and don't plan on giving it up any time soon, I guess I'm screwed. Literally. And often. With enthusiasm. You should try that sometime too so you won't harass busy moms in the produce section with inappropriate questions. As a matter of fact this store has an entire aisle of products that can help you with --
Wait! Where are you going? We were having such fun. Talking. About things that are none of your business.
3. Got your hands full, don't ya?
Hands. Heart. House. It's all filled to overflowing. But I see that yours are empty. So why don't you give me a hand with these groceries? Because some jackwagon on a Harley parked in the "mothers with young children" spot so I had to squeeze in between a Hummer and a flat-bed pickup in the far corner of the parking lot.
4. Don't worry, this too shall pass.
They're not kidney stones, you know. They're children. And who says "shall" anyway? Get with the times. Besides, maybe I don't want this to pass. Maybe I like my children. Maybe I believe everyone who told me, early on, that I would miss this when it was over. That the days are long but the years are short. So maybe I'm just soaking up each and every one of these exhausting, messy, imperfect days. Even the ones at the grocery store.
Ariel Lawhon is the author of The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress, out in paperback now. You can find her online at www.ariellawhon.com or on Twitter: @ArielLawhon, talking about her children, aka The Wild Rumpus.