I have been trying, not sure if too hard or not hard enough, to look like a perfect little family when we go out. You know - no snotty noses, no nasty dirty clothes, no running around like animals. I am well aware that people watch us. And when they watch us I don't want them to walk away thinking the stereo types of a large family are true. I might be in a no win situation. Either I look like a religious freak whose children are mindless zombies incapable of misbehavior, or we are dirty, rabbit like, welfare recipients. Its not that I care what people think of me, I just don't want them making decisions for their own life based on their perception of me.
I think I may have been looking at it all wrong. I saw our imperfection as a problem, when perhaps its our greatest asset. Our imperfections make us who we are; our quirks and our failings define us. My family is comfortable and everyone can't wait to get home after they have been away at a friends house. Not because we have better stuff, or a cleaner house (yea right), or even to their own beds. Its because they miss us, all of who we are, not just the good parts.
My 5 year old got a hair cut this week. He went from shoulder length hair to daddy length hair in about 30 minutes. I miss messing up his hair. I miss pulling it back into a pony tail so I can see his face. All the things he and I complained about his hair, I miss. It wasn't perfect but it was him. And now its gonna take me a while to get used to the new him. I need to find some new way to show affection since that was my thing, pulling back his hair so I can look into his eyes and kiss him all over. Sure I can still look into his eyes and kiss him all over but it was the act of playing with his hair that defined it. I can look into the eyes of all my children but it was only him who I had to draw back the hair on. It was an imperfection we tried to make perfect and I lost that now. I can only hope his hair grows fast.
My 11 year old has a mean sarcastic tone. Most adults, I am sure, would find it rude and inappropriate. I on the other hand appreciate it and find it very funny. Its something we share in common. We can be sarcastic together, we get each other. Its a way to connect, to understand each other and its something only her and I share. It might not be the perfect way to communicate but its our way.
I have something like that with all my children. My 10 year olds no holds bared honesty, my oldest sons dry emotionless wit, my 7 year olds ceaseless energy, my 4 year olds taunting and teasing, my 2 year olds tireless running and my babies unrestrained determination. I am not perfect either (HA had you fooled didn't I?). Where do you think my kids got all those traits from? And when my husband tells me he loves me he always mentions my honesty and my self motivation (I think that's a nice way of saying I am stubborn). Our imperfection might be worn on our sleeve for all the world to see, but its who we are. Our loved ones don't love of inspite of our imperfections but by virtue of them.
Perhaps we will get labeled regardless of how we act and dress; perhaps people will make assumptions when they see only our imperfections, but they are at least seeing some of the reasons that make us a family. They are seeing why we love each other so much.