“It all started with a picture of my happy family standing in front of Cinderella’s castle, smiling and beaming with excitement over being in our favorite place. ‘Surely one of your daughters will have loftier goals than breeding and choose an education instead of a baby,’ she angrily typed in the comment section of my Instagram. This wasn’t the first time I was met with bitter and awful remarks at the size of my family. I took a deep breath and put my phone away for a while. I’ve grown a thick skin at the words people use to describe us. But this one stung.
When my husband and I first met, we would talk about wanting a soccer team full of kids. In 2004, our first daughter was born and we loved everything about being parents. We were so excited to have more babies, nurture them, and watch them grow. By 2010, three sons would join us and we quickly realized our dream of a large family was beginning to come true. When I think back to the early days of our family life, I was so naive about how others would judge us. My children were all so happy and loved, how could anyone say anything bad about that? As time went on and we added more kids to our crew, the comments started coming. And not just the typical ‘Wow, you have your hands full’ comments but angry and hurtful ones. Having a complete stranger look at you in disgust and tell you that ‘You should have used birth control’ was not something I was ever prepared for as a mom.
‘I’d love to see you in 10 years when you have nothing for higher education, emergencies, investments,’ she shouted at me through text. Little did she know, we had already had our fair share of emergencies and unexpected life circumstances. I had experienced a few early miscarriages, but nothing prepared me for the second-trimester loss of our fourth child. Walking into an ultrasound room full of happiness only to see a perfect little baby lying perfectly still and being told she no longer had a heartbeat shook me to my core. A few years later I would be listening to the screams of my children as we escaped our burning home and watched pieces of it crumble to the ground while waiting for the fire trucks to arrive. Both of those proved to be extremely traumatic times in our lives. My kids still scream in terror at the sound of an alarm and I still mourn for my sweet girl. Those ’emergencies’ she felt so compelled to yell at me and lecture me about have happened, but they didn’t break us like she implied they would. They brought us closer together as a family, made us appreciate every precious moment of life, and made us so incredibly strong.
As we continued on with our day, with her words sitting in the back of my mind, I tried to focus on the fun we were having, the smiles on my kids faces, and the warmth of their laughter. This person, this angry person, did not know us. She didn’t know the deep loss I felt over my sweet babies I never got to hold. She didn’t know the postpartum anxiety I went through when my Aunt died of cancer just 6 weeks after my rainbow baby I named after her was born. She didn’t know we lived in two tiny trailers in our backyard for seven long months while our home was being rebuilt after the fire. She knew none of this, but with one scroll of my picture on Instagram, she thought she knew it all.
I majored in English Lit when I was in college, so words aren’t usually lacking with me. But this time I pondered the right thing to say back to her. I wanted to tell her just how wrong she was. That my daughters had plenty of goals, that my oldest had straight A’s, and is an exceptional soccer player. That my youngest girls are so sweet and caring, and they shine so much love and light from within. I wanted to tell her I’m raising all of my children equally to be caring, kind, and loving of everyone. And that we’ve experienced heartbreaking emergencies and persevered through them. I wanted to tell her the size of my family is just that, a size. And that a quick glance of our picture on Instagram doesn’t tell the story of who we are. But I didn’t tell her any of that, instead, I asked her if she needed a hug.
I’m a firm believer that those who are angry and mean need love the most. And this person needed love so very much. Being a mom is so difficult, and being a mom who has to hear awful comments about her children is even harder. But I choose kindness and I’m teaching each of my ten kids to choose that as well. At the end of the day, I needed to remind myself my family is happy and loved, and that’s what matters. The comment from an internet stranger is just that, a comment. And that is no reflection of the wonderful and love-filled family that we are.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelley Yoder of Ashburnham, MA. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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