The Worse Things Strangers Have Said to Me in Public

     Every aspect of my life has changed since having children. Pre-Mom me was never approached by strangers in public. After I had my first son, I was surprised by the extremely personal questions I started receiving from complete strangers. People approach me at the supermarket, Target and even out to lunch at Panera. It never fails. This has increased with each baby. As if having more children gives people more permission to be inappropriate.

I’m in awe of some of the personal questions I’m asked, directly in-front of my children about my children. While it seems impossible to avoid these interactions, I do my best to move on as quickly as possible and try to avoid getting into uncomfortable situations that might bring out my Mama Bear.

 As a Mom to 4 boys, I regularly find myself in conversations about gender and sexuality, my maternal health, and just about everything you can imagine with ignorant and very nosy strangers. Maybe I have one of those faces that says “hey, I’d love to talk about my vaginal delivery with you.” I’ve concluded that I must look like I want to talk about my children’s future, who they will love and marry and plans for my uterus.
     Most recently, an older man walked over to my cart, no introduction, looked at my 4 year old and said loudly “Is that a boy, because I can’t tell with his haircut.” I thought…this man must be high or have dementia. My son was wearing a rocket ship shirt, navy blue hoodie, jeans and sneakers…and at no point did I ask for comments about his haircuts from anyone and was having a really nice time giving him some individual attention while Grandma sat with his brothers.

     PSA; Strangers, Do Not Worry! If I feel the need to discuss having another baby, weather I am happy with boys or wanted a girl, how tired I am, how “busy” I am, if my kids are “all mine” or if my son’s nail-polish will make him attracted to men….I will wear a sign!
     Please do not approach my family in the supermarket! Do not stop my family and ask confusing questions in front of my children. I am extremely lucky to have my boys and never want them to think otherwise. Instead, find a better way to spend your energy and time! In short, if you’re not going to tell me how awesome my kids are… Piss off!
“Wow, 4 boys….you have your hands full…” 
     This is the most common comment I get. It never has a positive tone and I find myself baffled. Why would you stop me in Target and say anything but “What a beautiful family” “You’re so lucky to have 4 little boys.” The sound of your voice and miserable look on your face has to make my children wonder if they are making my life miserable….which yours must be for acting this way.
“4 boys? Are you going to try for a girl? Were you hoping the 4th was a girl?” in-front of my boys.
     I am very very lucky to have 4 boys! Modern day science has proven that we can not select gender. Apparently my husband’s male sperm are champions and/or they are zero girls. Would you like to talk about my husband’s sperm while we’re at it too? I was trying to pick out a chicken for dinner and teach my kids about grocery shopping, but hey, I’d love to stop discuss my plans for future children with you…a complete stranger…in front of my  impressionable little boys…who are now wondering if I was hoping they were female instead of male.
“Is that a doll? 4 boys…and a doll? Aren’t you worried that will make him….well, you know…Gay?”
    Thank you, complete stranger, for looking into my stroller and noticing my child’s toy. First of all, you are very lucky that my children already have an understanding of homosexuality and don’t think it’s a bad thing. Second, no…this doll is not capable of making my son “gay”…neither is the nail polish my 2 year old likes to wear, their Dora houses (yes plural) we have at home, the pink toothbrushes they picked out in aisle 2 and their play kitchen. If this doll could “make” people gay, it’s worth way more then the $12 I paid for it. Being romantically attracted to men would make my child “gay”…and no toy is capable of doing that. They simply like Cabbage Patch dolls.

   While some strangers have been really rude, I often think back to a woman who approached me at Target. I was pushing my toddlers in our double stroller and wearing my baby in his carrier. My toddlers were having a serious melt down because they thought the giant cement red ball in front of the store was a toy…and they wanted to play with it.

I could not convince them that it was a barrier meant to keep cars from crashing into Target. They thought it was stuck, and wanted to play with the ball. I received many glares…because as you know children aren’t supposed to be noisy in public. There I sat, on the red ball, consoling my children when I saw a woman approaching us.

Oh no…I thought. Then she spoke.”I remember when my children were young, it can be tough” she said. Here drink this (holds out an iced tea) maybe the kids will want some too. Look, I just bought it and it’s sealed. I’m not a crazy person, it’s brand new” as she demonstrated that it was sealed. She handed it to me and headed to her car. I was so touched. I thanked her and to be honest really needed a drink! Somehow this experience takes some sting out from the other conversations and I hope that when I get older, I’m the Target lady and not any of the others. Moral of the story. Be the Target lady! Be the Target lady! Where ever she is, Thank you!

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