Thursday, September 25, 2008

A tale of two ladies-

I'm no Charles Dickens and don't intend this post to be a great literary piece, but just had to share this real-life story that played itself out in my life last Thursday morning as I headed to my weekly doctor appointment for a check-up, due to late-stage pregnancy. If you aren't familiar with Dickens' work, his Tale of Two Cities starts out this way, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".
That's where I draw the title for this post- talk about a contrast in people/conversations within just moments of each other! Here is a bit of those conversations that I think taught me a lot in just a short amount of time.
I stood for just a moment waiting for the elevator door to open and as I stepped inside another 30-something, business-dressed woman walked quickly up to the door and I held it as she stepped inside. She was carrying a pie in a box and smiled at me as the doors shut.
"How long until your baby is born?" she asked me. I said, "one week".
She looked at me with her eyes growing larger and said, "Oh wow! I would have never guessed your due in a week. You look great!"
"Thank you", I replied.
"So", she continued, "Is this your first?"
"No", I said.
"Second?", she asked.
"Nope", I replied.
"This is your third?", she inquired.
"No. This is actually baby number 6 for me", I answered.
We were only up to the second floor at this time and still had one more to go before our elevator stop.
"Good for you!", she said with a big grin on her face, "do you know what you're having?".
"Yes, it's a boy, this will be my second boy".
"Well," she said as the elevator came to a stop, "I am so happy for you and think you look amazing...I really applaud you and wish you the exciting!".
"Thank you", I said again.
Then as we walked down the hallway toward the offices, we talked about baby names for a moment and she smiled and said once more just before we parted ways, "I just think it's wonderful and I really think you look terrific, good luck with everything!", and then I was at my destination.
I was still feeling good after checking in and finding a seat, when a moment or two later, a more elderly woman [I'm guessing her age to be young- 70's, since I have a parent and inlaws in their 60's and I don't want to say "an older woman"- but she was definitely older] =), came and took a seat just two spots from me. I should tell you that the whole waiting room was open at this time; I was the only person there other than her in the room. SO, as soon as that happened I picked up a magazine next to me and hoped I would find something REALLY interesting or at least appear that I was deep into reading about the lastest kids' room decor.
Apparantly I am not a very good actor, because she started right in...
"You'd think they'd at least have a hot pot of coffee for us to grab a cup while we wait this early in the day".
"Hmmmm, I guess they figure we get our own breakfast before we come in", I replied.
I guess I must have said it really nicely, because she wanted to keep talking.
I didn't look up, hoping that was the end of our conversation and I could just savor the one I had previous to this for another moment.
"How do you wear such high heels?", she asked me, as she looked at my crossed legs/feet, "don't those big wedges hurt your feet?"
"Not after the first time I broke them in", I answered, "they're actually one of my more comfortable pair".
"Well,", she went on, "I guess they say that a little heel is good for you, but I've never found anything that works. They all hurt my feet."
I turned the page of my magazine.
"So, how soon until your baby is due", she asked.
"Next week", I replied, still not hardly looking up from my magazine. I felt like the rudest person on the planet, but I knew she would have no problem talking, asking and probing no matter if I looked up or not. So I just kept turning pages thinking she would get bored with me or I would get called back by my nurse.
"From where I'm sitting, I can't even tell you're pregnant...this must be your first baby, huh?!", she stated.
"No", I said.
"So it's your second one, huh?!", she replied.
Again, I replied, "no".
"Well,", she said, both my daughter-in-laws are expecting their second and they're both due later than you and they're both much bigger than you already. So...three kids, huh."
This was the first time in the conversation I actually felt like offering more information, so I replied, "Actually this is my 6th baby and it's a boy".
Her mouth basically dropped open, but unlike the woman I had just had an engaging conversation with in the elevator and through the hall, her face nearly twisted up.
"Six kids! I'm expecting my 5th and 6th grandchildren and I think that's too many", she said.
"I do a lot of laundry, that's for certain," I said looking at her; smiling.
"How many do you plan on having?", she asked me, which personally I didn't feel I needed to answer, but I didn't see the nurse anywhere near the door, so I closed my magazine and said, "We thought we were done three babies ago, but here we are expecting baby #6."
"See?, " she said, "that's the problem; people don't think things through, and I don't think my kids can even handle two...that's where the problems are...people don't think anymore."
I felt like picking up the magazine again, but didn't. I just looked at her for a moment and then reached in my purse to check the time on my cell phone.
I guess it was too much for her, because she suddenly started talking directly at me in a much more "concerned" voice.
"Hmmmph", she started, "Don't people know about the economy these days? Kids aren't cheap and the price of stuff keeps going up...and there are people losing jobs in Michigan every day, and the national unemployment rate is going up every minute! People should think things through."
I thought of a hundred things I could say to her at that moment, but just as I was about to respond, she started in again,
"My own kids can hardly afford two; I don't know how anyone expects to live in this slumping economy with more than that...this country has issues..." and she went on to name a few more.
I liked how she just kept using the term, "people", but clearly she meant "me".
I sort of wished she had stuck to the topic of shoes, and I was thinking it would be a really great thing if the office DID have a coffee pot, because that would have taken a bit of her time and she would be sipping on her cup, rather than blaming me for the fall-out of our nation and it's slowing economy at that point.
I never did respond to her concerns in regards to my pregnancy and contribution to the downfall of our economy, as the nurse opened the door with a big grin and called, "Jody, come on back with are you feeling?", she asked me.
I thought of a hundred things I could say in response, and ended up saying, "About how I'd expect to feel a week before my baby is due...I have a few pains and complaints, but overall, I feel really great".
"Good for you", she said...and I set my things down to step on the scale.
* * * *
I ended up staying for an extended office visit that morning and into the afternoon and also had an ultrasound which eventually led to my induction the next morning. There were concerns with Crew's heartrate and his decreased movements and so it was determined the best plan was to start labor- even though I was a week early.
I just couldn't help but think over the conversations I had with these two women, though, and how their perspectives and opinions were so different toward me- though I had done nothing different. It sort of opened my eyes to how many of us live and respond to the world. We choose our attitudes and make up our minds sometimes, and many times we have no idea what the circumstances are behind the 'stories/people' we encounter. It made me realize I never want to be president, because just as I had done nothing different- I responded to the questions I was asked, and yet I was perceived by one person as practically the next recipient of the Mother-of-the-Year Award, and by the next person I was to blame for our nation's failing economy. =)
It made me realize that you need to know who you are and what you believe and be able to love yourself for that- and not be swayed by 'public opinion'. It made me realize that I have a big job as a mother- to instill in my children the wisdom and understanding of "the world" that sometimes its kind to you and other times it wants to bring you down.
I want them to know that they are loved unconditionally- even if they ARE the cause of a economic fall-out. I wouldn't trade them for the world! I want them to know how to love others gracefully and to respect others' opinions, even when they don't align with theirs, but to always know in their heart that many times there are two sides {or more!} to an issue and the best thing is for them to be grounded in truth and knowledge and love. That way, when someone wants to disagree or try to drag them down, they will already know who they are and what they believe and most importantly, that they are valued and appreciated- just as they are.
There you go.
My literary work of genius. Ha!=)
Not really, but for a sleep-deprived mom of 6, not too shabby either, huh?! I really just wanted to note this story for myself to be able to look back upon it, and really, it has made me smile and laugh this past week too. To think that I was less than 24-hours from giving birth and one woman couldn't have been more proud of me and another was ashamed. It was one of those things where you step back, shake your head and be thankful that you fall somewhere in the middle. I'm just lucky enough to have fallen more and more in the middle of love- with my family, my baby and a little bit more with myself- if that's okay. I think maybe that's what the elderly woman needs to do. She should buy a fancy pair of heels and dance in them in the middle of her house and just love being her. I bet she'd appreciate more things, if she could just loosen up a bit.
I hope I never get so opinonated that I blame someone for an entire nation's economy. I'd rather be the kind of person who applauds people for taking on more than I'd expect from them. And I hope to always compliment people on their shoes. =)


Deb said...

Amen! I loved your post and I like your attitude! I have 5 kids myself and love and take care of each and every one of them. I think that they make the world a better place, and kids are an investment in the future! Hug your babies and dance your heart out!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a story. You go girl. You seem to have your head on straight, even if you do wear heels. Ha Just kidding. I hear a lot of wisdom in your story. Your kids are blessed to have a mom like you.
I wish you blessings.

Red Door said...

I loved your post today. I find I get this a lot with a baby! Some people look at us wistfully and say "I remember when mine were so small and boy, were those great years! It just gets better and better!" and others get going about sleep deprivation and "Just wait until he's two!" and blah blah blah. I just say, well, we feel blessed beyond measure, and this one's so amazing that he makes us really, really want a houseful. =) Sheesh.

ChelseaP said...

Thank you (as always). Well said.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!!!


~j~ said...

a definite piece of literary genius!
Beautiful post, and your graciousness while you may not have thought so is highly commendable.
Congratulations on the birth of your son! He is absolutely beautiful.

The Kahler Family said...

That was so well written You have a great perspective and a terrific attitude!
There is somebody in my life that I struggle with constantly. She's kind of family so I can't really just distance myself from her. We have many encounters when she does everything she can to remind me that I'm insignificant to her and I always go over in my head the things that I could say to her in return. I never do say those things and a couple of days later, I am so thankful that I didn't. It just makes me realize more that she's a really unhappy person (I'm a really happy person, that's most of the problem), and that if I were to respond the way I really want to sometimes, I would only be acting just like her and that's not what God asks of me. Even still, it's hard to hold my tongue when I feel like I'm being attacked.
Crew is so sweet and he's got such a great smile... already!
As always, thanks for sharing your heart with us!
xo, Angie

Dana said...

Thanks for being so real with us, as always. Sorry you had that experience!

Joy said...

You are awesome!

MeDeRy said...

Your point about knowing who you are, what you believe in, and loving yourself was so right. Without that, the woman who was so negative could have shaken you into doubting yourself. And that is a dark place. I'm glad she didn't. I cast my vote with the first woman on the elevator! Good for you! Seeing a family full of kids always brings a smile to my face. It's a wonderful, beautiful blessing!!!

sandra said...


Jackietex said...

All I can say is I love you and your blog. Thanks for keeping up with it.

Tracy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy said...

You are so inspiring - thank you for sharing your "nitty gritty" with us - I'm not sure how I found your awesome blog, but I've been lurking for a while, and it touches my heart that you take the time to share posts like this with your readers...thanks for always reminding us how difficult it can be to strive to live the way Jesus teaches us to live, and reminding us what a joy it can also be - attitude IS everything, and CONGRATS to you for more than you can know;)

Jessica said...

I have four kids but live in a country were having kids is NOT done. You have two only if you are seeking one of each gender, and people might have more if they only have girls, in search of the much needed boy. If I had a dollar for each time I have been asked if they were all mine, if they were all from one mama, and so on, I'd be have a good bundl! I am now hoping to have number 5 and I can just imagine the comments THAT will bring about! I finally broke down on day and asked a lady, who was ranting and raving about the cost of kids, etc., if SHE was paying for my kids upkeep. She was speechless and had to admit that no, it wasn't her, so I told her to please keep her comment to herself.... ARGH!
By the way, I LOVE my 4 munchkins and, from what all sane people tell me, they are really nice kids, even the better from being from a larger family!

Jodie R. said...

It's pretty clear to me, Jody. The Bible says so...Children are a blessing, a REWARD from the Lord!!!! I'm glad you believe that and are living out that truth. As for me, we've been waiting...and are finally pregnant with number three, hoping for as many more as the Lord will give us!

kimosabescraps said...

wow, beautiful Jodi... such an amazing thought as we watch a debate tonight and worry about our economy... I too, wonder what the leaders of our country really are like.. and that we should put trust in them more than criticize their policies...
I feel blessed to have found this hobby to be able to be touched by women like you (reading blogs), feeling inspired, etc...
thanks for this today!
I might just go out and buy myself a pair of high heels!


Susan said...

Great story! I think you handled it very graciously. I think that the comments from both ladies really reflect where they are in life, not where you are. Unfortunately, the second lady wanted to compare you to her children without even knowing you. Maybe they can't handle more than 2or don't want more children but that doesn't mean it's wrong! I only have one and you can imagine the verbal beatings I've taken for not having more! People amaze me!

walkingbyfaith said...

Isn't it crazy just how different two people can look at the same situation?

I'm glad you were able to kindly listen to the older lady, I'm glad the younger woman was so encouraging, and most of all I'm glad Crew is here healthy, and home safe with you and the family. :)

Vicky said...

That was very eloquently told! I was raised in a very less than positive and encouraging household lets just say if we didn't live in different places the older woman could have been a relative of mine! Daily I am on a spiritual journey to unravel the negativity and feed and nourish the blessed feelings I have. I could go on, but for now I'll just offer thanks for your help and influence on my journey! And perhaps I'll wear my heels to go to the bus stop today!

Amber said...

Hi Jody!
I found you through SIStv and have been enjoying your blog for a while as a "lurker." I felt compelled to leave a comment today because both my undergraduate degree and my master's degree are in the field of economics and couldn't resist sharing how completely wrong the elderly woman's thinking is. By having a child (regardless of how many more you may or may not have at home), you are actually stimulating the economy. The birth of this child will result in medical expenses - these expenses will provide jobs not only to countless medical professionals, but also to the people who work for your insurance company. This new life will require clothing, diapers, and eventually food and toys - all these expenditures you incur will actually help our economy grow and survive. It is the ignorance of people such as that elderly lady who by their lack of investment into our economy help to fuel economic crisis. I personally applaud your contribution to our economy and your mature outlook on the comments of a bitter, misinformed old biddy.

Bonnie said...

Jody ~ Thank you for this post. First, your children are incredibly blessed to be raised by a Mom such as you. I love the wisdom behind your views on parenting. Sitting on the "other side" of this encounter, you have me thinking about how I react to people and the things I say. May I never take my eyes off Jesus for so long that I become woman #2. I'd be willing to guess woman #2 has no idea how miserable she actually is and that she portrays that to those around her. Another person to add to my prayer list. Blessings!

Janna said...

Wow Jody... I can't believe that older woman actually said that! How rude can you get? I can't stand it when people do things like that. It is shallow and just downright nasty. I applaud you for the grace with which you handled that situation... I would have had a harder time biting my tongue. That woman must never have known the joy of what motherhood is all about. She was obviously a mother... but it must have not been very joyful if she get all bent out of shape when someone else has more than one or two kids. Yikes!

Wendy said...

Oh my! What an experience! I commend you on your patience with such a miserable person. For me, your post was a great reminder to guard my own speech, because I never know what burdens people bear -- I was struck by what a callous thing it is to tell a mother who's lost a child all about what a hassle and financial drain children are...if she only knew what you've endured in your life! We need to be gentle with each other, because we can't always see each other's trials at first glance. Thanks for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jody:

I am sitting on the other side of the fence in that I have only been blessed with two chidren (and what a BLESSING they are) but would have had more if I could! So, I am joyful for you for your six, and grateful for my two!

angela said...

another post of yours that really speaks to me. i love when you say that you need to know who you are and what you believe and not to be swayed by public opinion. this is so important, and i think it's an evolution for me, something i keep working on. thanks for the post and i'm so glad everything is going well!

ABCDH said...

I love this post. A lot.
I often wonder how people justify complaining to perfect strangers. Huh.

Tomie said...


Thanks for the reminder. I often deal with comments from strangers, being a mom of 6 children ages 7 and under. It seems these days the rude comments out weigh the nice ones. I do need to remember that everyone is entitled to an opinion but somedays I wish they would keep it to themselves, you know. Thanks for reminding me that my family is for a greater purpose and that is what my focus should be, not the rude comments.

Congrats on your beautiful baby boy!


babybg said...

Jody- WOW! You always, always give me perspective. I come to your site a few times a week and you seem to have the message I need almost every week. Thank you! COngrats on your new boy and know that you make such a difference in our lives!

today is the present said...

I have seven children and I think I've heard it all although I'm hesitant to think that. I wish that I had more actually. I think you handled it well and I actually feel sort of sad for the elderly lady who obviously has a very negative outlook on life and doesn't see children as the true blessing that they are.

Thank you for the beautiful post, Judy. Crew is such a precious little baby as is the rest of your family. Tell Ava there are people praying that she will be able to ride with just two wheels very soon!

Kelly said...

I have read your blog a couple of times, and the amazing story of your family...your precious Teagan, and God's comfort, healing and grace in your lives. I am so touched by your story and blessed and encouraged by the beauty of your perseverance and the sharing of your heart. Thank you for this post about the tale of two ladies. What a wonderful story...and what a reflection of some of the attitudes parents are met with today. As a mom, I have experienced rude comments more than once from those who do not value children and family...they look at mothers with disdain and an expression that says, "How could you?" What a sad thing...and how sad for lady number two. She is missing the blessings in front of her.

God bless you and your new addition. What a joy to treasure...and it sounds like you truly are treasuring him. One of the ways God makes beauty from ashes in our lives after we experience great loss, is how we learn to cherish (even more)every moment with those we love, taking nothing for granted. The beauty in your life is shining through.

Thank you for sharing that beauty with us.

In His Grace,

Anonymous said...

I have been a bit of a lurker but I have loved following your story. A very dear friend of mine was pregnant w/# 6 when she was asked the same type of thing. When she replied that this was #6 for their family, the woman yelled "Hasn't anyone ever taught you about birth control?!" I was apalled by this woman's incredibly rude statement, but my friend simply smiled at her and replied: "Why yes, I have been taught about birth control." That was not enough for this rude woman and she continued with "Well, will you finally be done after this one?" (She was also reminded about the rate of birth defects and other dangers inherrent in 'older moms'.) To which my friend replied, "We don't really know. We consider children a gift from God and will welcome any that He chooses to Bless us with."
I was so humbled by her honesty and her aplomb in dealing with someone so rude-and how you dealt with this woman.
God Bless you and your family and congratulations on welcoming baby Crew to your family!

Anonymous said...

geez, i did not know my ex-mother-in-law was in michigan a week ago!! sounds just like her!
the new baby is beautiful. just like the rest of your family!!
God Bless You All!

heidi said...

I have heard those same conversations and I've got 5 kids. I always tell people I'm stimulating the economy and making sure they continue to receive their social security checks. LOL. ;o) You handled that situation with much grace!!

Grace said...

How I thank God for putting you on this planet! Because I'm considering starting a blog, I've been reading a lot of them in the past few days. I just discovered yours this afternoon, and it definitely stands out. What a special lady you are! I come from a family of 8 kids and I still love it to this day. All that nonsense spewed forth by that negative lady...well, I feel sorry you had to hear it, and I feel sorry that that is what was in that lady's heart. How un-fun for her. Nothing she said echoes God's opinions toward you and your family. (And it's His opinions that count!) You sound like a fabulous mother, and a wonderful person. May God reward you for the way you spread love. Grace