The other day Little Dude asked for a play date with another boy from his class. I knew who the boy’s mother was, mainly from seeing her around the school playground during pick-ups and drop-offs. But, I didn’t know her beyond a friendly smile or hello.
I emailed her to arrange their get-together and after navigating our kids’ busy schedules, we had it all set for a Saturday afternoon. Her husband picked up Little Dude from our house on their way back from Lacrosse practice. I told him I’d come to pick him up two hours later.
When I arrived at their house, the husband answered the door. I was hoping to see and chat with the boy’s mother too, just so she’d know who I was, should the boys decide to play again. A minute later, she walked into the room, and the first thing I noticed was her large, pregnant stomach.
I couldn’t hide my shock. I reached out and touched her belly (which I know is the most annoying thing ever, but I couldn’t help myself), and said, “Wow, you’re pregnant.”
Normally, this wouldn’t surprise me. But, I knew this family already had at least four, maybe five kids. I had to ask.
“So, this is going to be your…5th?”
She and her husband both sheepishly smiled and said, “umm, no our 6th.”
I almost let out a “holy shit” but I bit my tongue, smiled and then said, “That’s fantastic, I think that’s great. I think big families are sooo great.”
And I meant it. I do believe that big families are wonderful, assuming you have the resources to provide and the patience to parent a small army.
I told them how my husband was one of six children, how I thought long and hard about having a fourth, and how our dog is now considered our 4th child.
The one point I didn’t share was that there was a small piece of me that felt envious of them.
And yet, I know that if Oh Boy Dad and I had gone for it and had kid #4, we’d both have been carted away in strait jackets by the time the baby was one.
I think I was most jealous of their attitudes. They were incredibly calm and laid back about having a sixth child. And you know what really struck me the most?
Their house was quiet!
How was that possible? With my family of three boys, one husband, and a medium-sized Labradoodle, our house vibrates with all the noise and commotion every single day.
As if I wasn’t already feeling inadequate, I then asked her when she was due. By the looks of her petite stomach, I figured she’d say 3 months. Except her answer was this:
“Oh, any day now.”
I wanted to scream WTF!!
By the time I was pregnant with my 3rd, I was showing after my 2nd DAY of being pregnant. And when I reached 9 months, everyone said it looked like I was having twins because my stomach was so huge.
They both started to joke with me that they didn’t have a ‘plan’ should she go into labor in the middle of the night.
Geez…Could they be any more relaxed?
This mom definitely seemed like Super Mom, parenting her brood with nary a stressed out thought, while I was Mediocre Mom, barely managing my three kids and craving a glass of wine to calm me down at the end of each day. I convinced myself that this mom was the type of person who can handle having that many kids, whereas someone like me would implode.
I wished them luck and took Little Dude home.
I thought about that family more later that night and decided they had to have hidden flaws in their parenting, just like the rest of us.
Maybe their quiet house could be explained by the kids sitting in time-outs in the basement. Or maybe they order pizza for dinner every night just to feed that many mouths. Or perhaps they have full-time live-in help that cooks and cleans so they can just relax and focus on being fun parents. And then I remembered one important clue.
When I had arrived at their house, Little Dude was holding a Fanta orange soda that he had clearly slurped down minutes earlier. The mom immediately apologized and claimed it was a “special treat” for the boys. I told her not to worry, that I was the last person to condemn another mom for giving my son soda and we too allow it on occasion.
That night, I asked Little Dude where he got the soda. He divulged to me they had cases and cases of soda stored in their basement and that the kids were freely taking it when they were playing down there. It sounded like an unsupervised sugar-fest.
A-ha!! Special treat? Yeah right…
To my utter relief, Super Mom is really Mediocre Mom after all.
Just like the rest of us.