Monday, October 13, 2008

Too Many Questions

First, I finally have a new blog post out on MomLogic. Check it out if you're interested; it does have to do with having a new baby in the house!

And now, on to my thoughts as of late...

I'm used to being asked a lot of questions. I'm used to having a lot of opinions thrown at me.

You see, in case you didn't know, when you have multiples, you are a bit of a freak show.

This makes perfect sense. I mean, there aren't many multiples in this country, so when people see them they go nuts.

Did you say, "Huh?" yet?

I thought so. Sorry. I got sarcastic for a second. There are TONS of multiples in this country. They are everywhere I look. I rarely go a day without seeing at least one set of twins while out and about (not counting the two sets at George's preschool alone). Celebrities are having them en masse, as though twins are the new Grammy or something.

When Jack and Henry were born 7 years ago, I could not go anywhere without being asked questions or being on the receiving end of some person's opinions when they learned I wasn't breastfeeding, wondered whether or not I'd ever thought of breastfeeding, or felt me up in Lowe's as they wondered whether or not my boobs were even large enough to feed two children to their respective points of satiety.

I learned to focus my eyes straight ahead and not make eye contact with anyone. When you make eye contact, you invite questions and comments. I'm very good at staring straight ahead.

I sometimes talked to myself, too, so I'd appear less than sane. No one wants to engage a less-than-sane person in a conversation. Unless they have infant twins with them. So sometimes I'd talk to myself and hum to make people really nervous.

I soon realized that, on a very small scale, I understood a bit what it must feel like to be a celebrity. Everywhere you go, someone wants something from you. In the celebrities' case, it's an autograph or a photo or some such thing. In my case, it was information on what position a couple must "do it" in to conceive multiples or how bad the C-section was (and when I mentioned that I didn't have a C-section, the conversation turned to how my va-jay-jay could ever have survived such an experience).

I simply could not go anywhere and do my thing invisibly.

Once Jack and Henry turned two or three, strangers stopped noticing us. And I noticed them not noticing. It made me sad for a while because by the time Jack and Henry were two, I needed people to notice me. Anyone. I had been living a very one-dimensional life with twins and a toddler for so long that I'd engage the pesky late-afternoon telemarketers and would have answered any question asked of me no matter how personal. I may have even willingly shown my boobs if asked nicely enough. I'd have done nearly anything for a little adult conversation.

Much of the public's sudden lack of attention likely stemmed from the fact that Jack and Henry look nothing alike, so most people didn't think they were twins. In fact, when I mentioned to folks that they were twins, I occasionally ended up in conversations that included a lot of "No, they really are," on my end. Like it was my job to convince people. But again, desperate times call for stupid debates.

I accepted that tooling around with two infant car seats is, apparently, just adorable. Tooling around with two screaming toddlers who look no more similar than next-door neighbors is, apparently, not.

I quickly got over the loss of strangers' affections and was glad to be able to go out and about again with anonymity.

I now realize that I'm back in that place. That place where I cannot leave the house without taking a deep breath and preparing for the onslaught of stares, questions, and comments.

And, the reality that these comments are likely to continue---possibly even increase---as Nina gets older, is not an idea about which I'm ambivalent.

I love that people are interested in Nina. I do. I'm very proud to be her mother. I love that most people think she's so beautiful. That they think she looks like "a doll." And some days, if one more person says, "She looks just like a doll. She really does. Honey, come here. Look at this doll...I mean baby...," I think I might lose it.

Some days, I just want to buy a freakin' squash. And some days, Nina just wants me to buy a freakin' squash and get the hell home. And some days, Nina's brothers and sister want everyone to stop making such a fuss over Nina so we can buy the freakin' squash and go home so they can play Wii and fight with each other some more.

Last week in California, I had Nina in a stroller in which she was forward facing. Big mistake. The beauty of having a baby facing you while riding in a stroller is that, to see her face, onlookers must stand where you're standing. Hence, you have an exit. When the child is facing forward, the strangers must stand RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU to see the child. And, most often, your only option to get away is to run them over.

I'm tired of being blockaded in the cereal aisle when I need to get to produce. Especially when the 4-year-old is holding a box of Apple Jacks and screaming, "PLEEEEEAAAAASE!!!!!" while the stranger is asking me why anyone would give away such a beautiful baby and not noticing (or caring) that I need her to get the hell out of the way before I (not to mention the 4-year-old) blow.

So after that particular stranger-of-the-moment moved on from "What happened to her birthparents?" to "She looks just like a doll," I had to politely say, "Yes, she does. And I've really got to get the doll's siblings and, thanks to you, this whopping box of Apple Jacks out of the store now. Have a great day!"


One day recently, Grace said, "Why does everyone pay so much attention to Nina?" I said, "Because she's a baby. Everyone loves a baby."

"Did everyone talk to me that much when I was a baby?" she asked.

"Yep!" I lied.

Again, I love that everyone is interested. I love the opportunity to show people a different side of Ethiopia from the swollen-bellied, fly-infested images they've seen over the TV for the last decade. I love to spread the word that there are many beautiful dolls---I mean children---in Ethiopia waiting for loving families who are willing to share their homes and their lives and their hearts (and, if they can get out of the grocery, a box of Apple Jacks and a freakin' squash to boot).

I do.

But I'll admit it. I'm waiting for a day when Nina can just be a daughter and a sister. When we can go out and be "just a normal family" trying to buy bushes or sheets or lunch. When Nina's not a walking advertisement (or a strolling advertisement, as the case actually is) or the focus of everyone's eyes and curiosity.

A day when I can point toward a faux Christmas tree in Lowe's and ask David WHY they have these things out in October when it's still 100 degrees in Phoenix without giving it my all to ignore, while being painfully aware of (and I do mean painfully), the fact that there are 3 pair of eyes intently focused on us as though we were Brangelina themselves.

I'm waiting for just. one. day. when I can run an errand...or two...or six...and just run the errand. Just Nina and me. Or Nina and me and Grace and Jack and Henry and George (because that's as many people as will fit in the car). A day when no one asks questions. No one points. No one says the word "doll." No one stands between my stroller and the produce aisle. No one mentions birthparents or AIDS or luck.

Just one day.

I'm not complaining. Really, I'm not.

I'm just sayin'.


JonesEthiopia said...

I hear ya. We can't go ANYWHERE without someone making some sort of comment about R. Sometimes I don't mind it, sometimes I can't stand it!

The Redman's said...

I wrote a post VERY similar to this back in August. I had a man at Costco tell me that he thought I had a doll in my cart!! Like I would strap a doll into a grocery cart!! Have you gotten the Cabbage Patch comment yet?? YIKES! But.... I have to say that I just noticed, in the last few weeks, that I'm getting less comments and I can almost go to the grocery store without a single comment!!! Yipppeee!! Hang in there. I hit my "breaking point" over the summer and just wanted to be "unnoticed" at the park, store, etc... as did Jacob, but like I said, it's starting to become "normal" again and it feels good. :) Hang in there!!


Trendy Mindy said...

I channel you all of the time - being that my questions are just starting..."why don't you just have children of your own"..."you can't even cook Mindy what will you do with a child?"...I love that one!! "Can't you just get one from China...Guatemala...etc"...that one just makes my blood boil.
thanks Liz!!

Aimee said...

Though that day may never come in the reality of the world, it will come in the reality of your mind. I know that people are always staring, but I like to just tell myself it's because I'm so stunning :)

Anonymous said...

your frankness and honesty about motherhood and adoption are inspiring.