Yesterday I met a new friend at the YMCA to exercise. I don’t know what has happened to me (maybe 3 additional kids?), but I think I am starting to look my age. I am not particularly fond of this phenomenon.
So as New Friend and I ascended the stairs to cardio theater, she said, “How many kids do you have?” Oh, I hate that question. I love having 5 kids — it seems perfectly natural to me– but I hate answering that question. It apparently does not seem natural to very many other people. New Friend looked completely shocked when I responded. And she did not hide her shock at all when I told her their ages because I apparently look my age and you do not have to be a math genius to figure out I would have been 50 when the youngest was born. That is not completely unheard of in the world of natural pregnancy, but it is pretty rare.
Usually I have “The Littles” with me when these queries or made. Or once or twice now someone will ask, “Are these your grandchildren?” But as the kids were not with me when New Friend began her inquiry, I did not give any explanation. I was tired. I was sick. I did not want to exercise even though I’d made a date with her to do so. I just felt a bit cranky ,so I didn’t explain.
My bet is that she told her husband at dinner, “I met a woman with five kids and the little ones are the age of ours. She looks way too old to have that young of kids. Having 5 kids really ages you!”
Or maybe she never gave it another thought. But I am obviously still thinking about it. I think the part that is most surprising to me is that I do not feel too old to parent these kids. And though we weren’t expecting to have three kids placed at once, nor were we planning to adopt them, it seemed perfectly sensible and right to do so. I so frequently meet grandparents who are parenting and even great-grandparents, as well as older folks (like me!) who have adopted from foster care. It always surprises me that others are surprised.
I don’t have any great wisdom to impart from this last encounter — just still sorting it out, really. Maybe I need to think of a witty one-liner for these encounters, I don’t know. What do y’all do?
Photo credit: Dreena T (sorry the blog program keeps clipping some of my kids out!)