I am a wife and a mother of 8. Altogether, we make ten.
When we go out, people stare. Some stare in wondrous awe, joyful smiles painted across their faces. Those are the ones who approach us with comments like, "Your family is so beautiful," or "What a blessing," or "Christmas must be so wonderful at your house."
And then there are others. Others who stare in sheer disgust. They whisper to one another. Under their hot and hateful breaths, they most likely curse me for being "irresponsible" or "leaving too large of a footprint on the earth." When I am in the store with my children and my husband is not with us, the glares are hard to miss. Those glares suggest they unjustly accuse me of being a welfare recipient with no husband and multiple baby daddies.
Some of them are bold enough to approach and comment, nastily saying, "You ARE done, right?" One woman went so far as to order me NOT to have anymore children.
My family is constantly and consistently subjected to prejudice and discrimination. I don't like it, but the gawking has become a part of our norm. I've learned to ignore the incriminating glances and to deflect the intrusive comments. But, if I am to be completely honest, there are times, here and there, when it gets the best of me. Days when I walk into a store with my guard up and guns blazin', ready to blast the first simpleton who dare bring ignorance my way. Sometimes this wall causes confusion...mistaken identity...and I become curt with the friendly ones...the ones who feel joy and love when they see my supersized brood. I catch myself when I do this. I offer a warm smile and tear down my wall as quickly as possible because that's the only way to receive the love that's being offered. I never wish to miss out on that. And I certainly never want to subject another to unfair judgment because of the actions of the mean ones. That would be hypocritical.
We get the prejudgment when we're in restaurants, too.
When judgmental patrons dining near us are finished with their meals, they make it a point to come over and applaud our well-mannered children. They tell us what a joy it was dining next to such disciplined kids. They give us their stamp of approval after they already assumed our crew was going to destroy their dining experience.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate their willingness to adjust their initial thoughts regarding our family. And I certainly appreciate the compliments. But what I don't understand is why people aren't more willing to give the benefit of the doubt or a stamp of approval...first.
Professors often say, "Everyone has an A; now, its up to each individual to keep it." Isn't that how we should all treat one another? Isn't is far more peaceful to extend kindness, love and trust with no judgment and only pull it back when the person(s) proves unworthy of said tokens?
I know what you're thinking:
Donloyn, if you're accustomed to this, then why are you bringing it up now? Has something happened?
Why, yes, something has happened.
When we sold our home last year, my husband and I decided we would rent for a short while (1 or 2 years) until we decide upon a home to purchase.
The end of the first year of renting is fast upon us, and we decided to rent a different home, in a new location...the neighborhood we wanted. Our plan was to rent there for one year and then purchase a new home.
It was an almost 3000 sqft, 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with an enormous bonus room and 2 formals. It was wonderful. Spacious, lovely neighborhood, close to the kids schools...perfect.
Last week, we completed the application process and satisfactorily met all rental requirements: credit, criminal background, income, rental history.
The manager of the property management company told me everything was great...except one thing. She would have to check with the homeowner regarding our family's size.
(Insert needle on record here)
I was caught off guard. "Oh, but I am sure it will not be a problem," she assured me. And so I let it roll off my shoulder.
The following day, she phoned. "I'm sorry, but the homeowner said she does not wish to approve your application based on your family's size," she said, sounding just as shocked as I felt.
My stomach dropped, my throat tightened and the tears welled in my eyes.
"Do you think she would be willing to speak with us," I said desperately as my voice quivered.
She agreed to contact the homeowner to request a conference call on our behalf. Minutes later she called back and said, "She refused the conference call. She's adamant about not renting to you." I thanked her for her efforts and hung up the phone in utter disbelief.
There are property rental laws that protect against unlawful discrimination based on familial status. But that doesn't stop it from happening.
Similarly, there are moral standards that discourage the act of discrimination, but people continue to be on the receiving end of harsh gavels pounding in judgment against them. Some deal with racial discrimination. Some gender discrimination. Some because of their religion or sexual orientation. In our case, it's because closed-minded individuals impose their thinking upon us and accuse us of having too many children.
Psalm 127: 3-5 says that my husband and I are blessed.
People try to make us feel shame for creating our beautiful family. A weaker person may be inclined to falsify the next rental application...but not me.
You know, Christmases around here are pretty wonderful. They are filled with joy, love and laughter. And I wouldn't change that for all of the almost 3000 sqft homes in the world.
I am a wife and a mother of 8. Altogether, we make ten. I am not ashamed. We roll ten deep. We are a force. Our love is far more powerful than the hate of discrimination.