Monday, May 12, 2008
You would simply be amazed at the things people feel free to say to you when you show up in a grocery line with a large number of children. Many an intimate conversation has been had in the cozy confines of check-out with an absolute stranger who is dying to know what kind of birth control I practice, the method by which my children escaped the borders of my uterus, how I breastfeed twins, even our economic status in providing for this tribe. I used to be somewhat put-off, then embarrassed, but fatigue and degradation of shame now allows me to just wallow into all of it, showing off my best stretch mark on my right hip (almost an angry inch wide!) and my belly button which has been popped into the shape of a creature's nose from Fraggle Rock. It's a competition of sorts, how to out-shock the inappropriate questions of the gossipy breed, all the while trying to seem as sunny and dippy as Goldie Hawn, no offense intended (or taken, I would guess)...
In the spirit of that competition, I could use your help, Dear Reader, to deal with the most awe-inspiring comment I receive, the one for which I have no comeback, the one that traffics in the varsity, nay, the professional League of Tacky. I humbly submit the following actual conversation from my field notes:
Scene: Me at Costco, children surrounding me, hair up in a clip, some form of mascara on, trying to hang on to keys, the new Centro, the wayward 4 year old and a sliding avalanche of bread and eggs...
Middle Age Pudgy Bored Woman: "Excuse me, excuse me, over here...."
Patient Me: "Yes, you possibly meddling little thing, you..."
MAPBW: (see above for explanation of acronym): "All those all yours?"
Patient Me: "Yes, these are all my groceries..."
MAPBW: "No, no, those kids, are those kids all yours?"
Slightly Less Patient Me, scouting the geography around me: "What, these children? One, two, three, four...fi...yeah, yep, all mine..."
MAPBW: "What??!!! Don't you have a television--hahahahaha!! But seriously...(looks me up and down, very slowly...) you look pretty good, you know, your figure, for having 8 kids and all...."
Fed Up Me: "How sweet...we aim to please...."
.....for having 8 kids and all....for having 8 kids and all....for having 8 kids and all......
Dear Reader, please enlighten me, does this not seem like a thinly veiled jab masquerading as a compliment....or is it true compliment offset by a complete lack of consideration as to how it might be received? Does this mean my physiognomy would be repulsive in the perkier mother of 2? Are my hips horrific until considered in the light of being a grand multipara? What should a body look like after being stretched to and fro like an epidermal rubber band? How should a bosom respond to the demands of wearing seven different cup sizes in an 8 month period? What is the acceptable level of discoloration under the eyes of the chronically sleep deprived? Is two inches of root grow-out acceptable if you have 8 kids in tow, but unacceptable if you sport only a paltry team of 7? What is the cut off for 'attractive' for a mother of 8 but woefully unacceptable of the rest of the female population? How low should I set the standard? You see why I need your counsel, Dear Reader.
Obviously these are questions that cannot all be answered here today in our short time together, but they do deserve my utmost pondering. As I contemplate my Fraggle Rock proboscis belly button.....