“It’s a whole tribe!”
“You’re done, right? Done? You’re done.”
And, my favorite, “Go on with you and your bad self.”
I knew that there is a big difference between two kids and three kids in New York City. Two is accepted, even expected. But if you want to have more than that and not get any astonished looks or strange comments, you’d better space them out so that it doesn’t look like you have three kids. Maybe one is in school when you’re out and about. Maybe it looks like your nephew is helping out with the babies. Or maybe spacing is a moot point by now, so you dress the baby like a dog and let her sit in your oversize purse. (Just kidding.)
I imagine that if I lived in a different neighborhood, where I didn’t attract attention simply by being the white lady with children, things might be different. People might think I was watching someone else’s child(ren). People might not be so surprised to see kids in general. People might not be so taken by such a sight as to comment on it at all. But this is where I am and comments like those I’ve heard in the past few weeks are evidence of it.
I don’t mind it. In fact, it just makes me laugh. Three kids does not seem like a “whole tribe” to someone who has 11 siblings. Three kids does not seem like a reason for a stranger to demand commitment to contraception. Three kids does not seem worth commenting on at all. Especially when they are inhabiting their own space, minding their own business, and bothering no one at all – not even their mother.
I have no idea if I am “done,” but, to be honest, I don’t see why I should be. Three kids seems entirely manageable to me at this point. Even in our small apartment. Even using public transportation. Even when everyone is crying. I feel like I can handle this. I do not feel like my hands are so full that I’m dropping balls and losing patience. It is, as I said before, a stage I’m going through and I don’t mind passing through it, no matter how long it takes.
And so I will go on with me and my bad self. I’ll go on as much as I want. I’ll take my three, or four, or five kids along with me. And when we get through this stage and we’re all a little older and wiser and better able to wipe our own noses and pull up our own pants, we’ll joke about being a whole tribe: the smallest tribe you’ve ever seen.