Don’t take my moment

February 7, 2011

in About, Family, Parenting, The Tough Stuff, Things that matter

Most adoptive parents are used to — or at least familiar with — the comments, the stares, the whispers…the things that remind you that your family is different.

We received enough of them when it was just Mattix, Ed and me. Once Molley became our daughter, we learned what being “different” was really all about. We sometimes wonder what it is that made the reactions so much stronger. Is it because when it was just Mattix, it was two Caucasian parents and one Asian child? While I’m as pale as they come, Ed is darker. Is it because we had two kids of different ethnic backgrounds? Is it because one of our children is black?

Regardless, I’ve always said that Ed and I made a choice – one that has made our lives complete – and we’re adults. We can handle it.

And I’ve more recently said that now my children can understand more of what people say, how they react, my ability to handle it has become less admirable. When they totally understand, I worry that it will be anything but admirable.

I never understood parents that said nothing. That closed their mouths and walked away. That were “the bigger people.”

Until last week. Then I understood.

I’m a sarcastic girl. It’s part of me. It’s who I am.  I can’t help it, but I wouldn’t want to change it. I’m also very caring and nice. Fortunately, I’ve never had trouble knowing how to react to the people who are curious, the people who are ignorant, the people who are rude…and any combination of them.

Until last week.

I haven’t been in the best shape since mid-December. Last week, for the first time in over a month-and-a-half, I took both kids out by myself. It was sort of a big deal for me. I was excited. I wasn’t 100%, but I was okay. The three of of were stoked. We decided on Ikea. My two- and three-year-olds are cheap dates. The mere utterance of the word “Ikea” and they squeal.

Moll was finally tall enough (with her hair) for the kids’ play room and Matty was eager for a second opportunity, after the first ended with my pager going off following an “accident” that may or may not have occurred in the ball pit – that’s another post entirely. They were excited. They understood that we had to eat lunch first. Then we’d try the play room.

We walked in. I was happy. Did I mention I hadn’t taken both of my kids out — without help — in over six weeks? I felt like a real mom again. I felt lucky. I felt grateful. I think I was beaming. I know I was smiling. I was in a world where just my kids and I existed.

And then someone tried to take my moment.

We were standing outside the play room. I was trying to encourage them to get on the elevator. They were too excited to be bothered with talk of eating lunch. I was happy that they were happy. I was happy to be out of the house with my children. My children.

She must have asked more than once, because when I finally heard the question, she was curt. Rude. Annoyed.

Are they twins?

(Oh hell. Not that one again. Really?)

(Because they don’t look like twins.)

No, they’re not twins.

Oh! Because they look like twins.

No, they’re not.

Well, I thought they were. They’re almost the same size and they look alike.

(How many times must you ask? Do you think I’m lying to you? Messing with you? Leave it alone. I’m enjoying this moment with my kids. Don’t take it.)

No, they’re not twins.

(She was getting annoyed. Like my answer was the wrong one.)

Well, from the BACK, they certainly look like twins.

Well, my children are not twins. They’re not the same ethnicity.

Well, excuse me. This wasn’t some kind of racial profiling thing.

Oh my God. I suddenly got it. I suddenly understood walking away. I was past the point of a sarcastic remark, although I’m never short on those. I was angry. And what was on my tongue and in my mind was anger.

She was trying to take my moment. One that I wanted — one that my children and I deserved. I’d wanted to take my kids out for an afternoon for almost two months, and I finally could, and then this…bitch…was trying to take it.

I took a deep breath.

Even in anger, I’m smart. I know her remark meant she was looking for an opportunity to use it. Normal people don’t think like that.

And I reached down, took my kids’ hands and walked toward the elevator.

For the first time, I understood why other adoptive parents “take the high road,” why they “walk away,” why they “set an example for their kids.” Because, for the first time, I wouldn’t have said something intelligent, something sarcastic that would have shut her up, something that would have made my kids or I laugh, something that would have put her stupidity in the spotlight.

I would have said something that would have brought me down to her level. I would have called her white trash, a redneck, a bitch, an ignorant  asshole. All of those things? Probably true. She was pushing, being nasty, looking for a reaction.

But I was the bigger person. I walked away with my kids’ hands in mine, both proud to be their mama and ashamed to be in the presence of such ignorance.

She tried to take my moment. She tired hard. She almost did. But it didn’t work out for her. Even as she continued with her stupid dribble to her friend as we walked away, I didn’t let her have my moment.

Right now, it’s only my moment people like that could take if I allowed them. But each day, we creep closer to the day when it’s my kids’ moment that people like that will try to take. Because they understand more. They understand more than a lot of kids…because a lot of kids don’t have to tolerate what they do.

And on the day that someone like that tires to take their moment?

I’m not sure I’ll remain the bigger person.

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelley O February 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Well done Mama! Well done. Love you, love those babies. Hate ignorant mean evil bitches.

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Laura February 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Thank you. Love you, too. xo

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jenna February 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm

wow. i just don’t get it. i vividly remember being asked a similarly ridiculous question a few months back. Sorry…you were awesome!

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Laura February 7, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Makes you wonder what is wrong with some people, huh? I believe that some ask us b/c they want to pry and think it’s a way to get some info. I think that was the case with this woman b/c her nasty remark didn’t require any thought, which means she was looking to use it from the beginning. Whatever.

Thank you, though! It was a good lesson for me. It was the first time I shut my mouth and walked. Being sick and having to focus on just getting through the day took all the energy away from my smart mouth! lol

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Anne February 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Great post, Laura! You did the right thing, for sure, by walking away. Ugh, is that HARD though. I don’t know if I could have done it. You are setting a good example for your kids. I DO NOT get the twins question?!?! Are people serious??? So weird.

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Laura February 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I just wrote this to Jenna, but I think that some people are looking for a way to ask questions and the twins thing is way to start. I have no idea, but it seems that way. It was definitely a first for me — the walking away bit. It was the first time I’d had both kids out 6 weeks and I was so focused on them. I got angry right away, and that’s not my usual response. So walking was best. Maybe I learned something? (I doubt it!)

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Natalie February 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

People suck. Love you Laura! (And the new look for the blog!!)
XOXO Nat

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Laura February 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Thanks, Nato!!!! Love you, too. xoxo

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Nicole February 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Good job! Not sure I would have said anything either but not because I’m the bigger person but because I always think of the good things to say after I’ve walked away. Doh!

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Laura February 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Ha ha ha!!! Maybe it’s better that way. Maybe it was better that — for the first time — I didn’t respond. I have no idea. I do know that not saying anything was better than what I would have said…

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Katherine February 7, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I once had a coworker tell me that I signed up for having people approach me about my kid because she looked different than me. That I chose to be more of a spectacle. Um, no bitch, I signed up to have a family, not to be victim to other people’s ignorance. My child needed a home, and I had one. It’s really that simple for me.

I usually end up being shocked in these situations rather than responding- my lag time isn’t quick. But I think that is a good thing for me because the result would not be pretty.

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Laura February 7, 2011 at 7:05 pm

You signed up for it?!?!?! WOW. Just wow.

I always have something to say, so this was a first for me. It was a good lesson in walking away, I think. We’ll see whether it sticks! ;)

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Vea February 7, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I have tears in my eyes. This post is outstanding.
Can I link on FB?

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Laura February 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Of course you can! he person who redesigned by blog even put a FB button on each post. :) Thank you so much for the complement.

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Terry February 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I am so proud of you, not that you need me to be, but I am. Keep holding that beautiful head high!!!

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Laura February 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Thank you, Mom. You know more than anyone that this was a first for me. :)

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Laura M. February 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Wow! I never even knew people like that existed. Well done for taking the high road. It takes a very strong mama to do that. Love you and your kiddos!! XOXO

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Laura February 7, 2011 at 7:02 pm

They are everywhere, Laura. We don’t usually go anywhere without hearing or overhearing something. I’m usually not so infuriated…this one was just on the wrong day, at the wrong time. Thank you for such a nice complement, but it could have been a totally beatdown mama, too. :) It was our first time out in a while and I was doing my best to be there with my kids. xoxo

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Bruna February 7, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I was so angry reading this post. Angry at that ignorant mother who didn’t stop asking you the same questioin over and over again. You are strong my friend. I was losing it while reading. I don’t know what I’d say if I were in your shoes. You chose well because, after all, you want to set a good example for your kids AND yes, you are so much better than that woman. Your kids are so darn lucky they got you and your hubby as parents:))))

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Laura February 7, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Thanks, Bruna! What a nice comment. In the interest of honesty, I’ll tell you that I’m usually not silent. Sadly, this kind of stupidity wasn’t an isolated incident. But my ability to handle it was different than usual, given our situation lately, and so I didn’t handle it at all! Hubby and I are the lucky ones…I have the most incredible kids!

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Hiking Mama February 7, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I can so relate to this post. I used to think it was bad with just River, but then we brought home a 4 year old that looks every bit of 4 but acts as a 1-2 year old. Throw on top of that the fact that he is of a different race than us, doesn’t speak and doesn’t understand social norms…and well, we have had some horrible experiences that have led me to believe that mean people are more numerous than I had previously thought. I understand curiosity and the desire for people to ask what *we* feel are silly questions, but there is no excuse for people being mean and nasty. Good for you for walking away. Some comments are not worthy of a response.

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Laura February 8, 2011 at 3:49 am

I’m so sorry you’ve been experiencing mean people, L. I completely understand curiosity as well and looking twice. We wonder about that which is different. But just as you said, there is no excuse for meanness and nastiness. Hugs, girl.

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Michelle February 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Whoa…Wait…What? People actually do this?!?! People approach strangers just to say something ignorant and mean spirited?!?! I didn’t think I could be surprised by people’s bad behavior anymore, but I truly am! Good for you, Laura! I really don’t know what I would have done in your shoes, but what you did was just graceful and perfect.

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:41 am

I know, right? I never knew what people were capable of before the kids. I shouldn’t be surprised, either, but I am.

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Jen February 8, 2011 at 12:10 am

Hey! We moved today as well, I am now at seemommycook.com

I hate that people are so ignorant and rude. You have a beautiful family–it just sucks that there are still people in this world that need to be hateful. Just know that your life is probably a thousand times better than hers and that you were the classy person in that encounter.

We were out for breakfast the other day when I caught this older man giving my children pointed looks and then giving me a pointed look. I stared him down. Fortunately he kept his hillbilly mouth SHUT.

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Laura February 8, 2011 at 3:52 am

Yay! Excited to check out your new home! I need to see someone cook so I can learn. ;-)

Thank you for your kind words. I love my little family so much.

I sometimes stare back, too, and I guess and I can look pretty nasty people look away. :)

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Carolyn February 8, 2011 at 2:02 am

The new space looks great.

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Laura February 8, 2011 at 3:53 am

Thank you so much!

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Libby February 8, 2011 at 2:58 am

It is so hard not to use sarcasm in a moment like that. I remember when people would ask where we “got” our daughter. I always wanted to snap back with “at Target.” Instead I would just smile and say “she was born here,” and walk away as fast as possible, biting my tongue in half.

Glad you are feeling better.

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Laura February 8, 2011 at 3:57 am

Thanks, Libby. I’m getting better every day!

I use sarcasm a lot. I say things like that. I ask people how much money they make when they ask my how much my kids cost. I ask where they learned to be rude when they ask where I “got them.” I’ve told people that congrats for outdoing the last dumb person. My husband and I often laugh at people among ourselves, but I know they can hear us.

Basically, you’re a better person than I am. This walking away thing was new for me. I’m unsure about it, but it was the best I could do in the situation and I’m glad I did. Some people aren’t even worth my breath.

Thanks for the comment!!

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Nicole@MTDLBlog February 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I struggle with confrontation like that. How frustrating for you to have to go through things like this. It would be obvious to me that your children were not twins and that they were likely adopted – which is not a weird, uncommon thing. I don’t understand why people are so shocked, especially in modern days to see different ethnicities within in a family. It’s unfortunate that there is that kind of ignorance our there still. You did the right thing. Don’t let them steal your moments with them! Good for you for getting out of the house with the kids. I actually have twins – who are a year (God help me – haha) and so I don’t get out much either. Not because they are bad, but it’s just a lot of work and energy to take two small children out. At home, it’s safe and they are familiar with what they can and can’t do. I know I need to just bite the bullet too and get out though…..
Hang in there! You are an outstanding Mother and person for handling those situations with grace and maturity.

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:43 am

It is SO hard to get out of the house with two little ones! I didn’t even have twins and didn’t have an easy time when my daughter was a baby and my son a toddler. If it helps, it will get easier. :)

Thanks so much for the complement. I really appreciate that.

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Jules February 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I’m completely dumbfounded by the remarks/questions you’ve received. I’ve had a couple folks awkwardly ask about Josie’s adoption-but I could tell it was just a poor choice of words and they were genuinely interested in the adoption process. I’ve tried to educate people about the use of the word “Oriental”-SHE’S NOT A RUG! ;)

I did have my mind blown this week and I can’t talk about it on my blog or FB-because it was my Grandma. I’ve tried to be understanding that she grew up in a different era, but dang, she is RACIST. Blacks (or coloured, as she puts it), Mexicans, and now Asians seem to all be on her list. So-she was telling me about one of the home health aides that came to the house-”She’s Japanese. But she doesn’t have the really slanty eyes. You know-how some of them have those really slanty eyes?”

Me: uhhh .. . . .(mouth hanging open-looking at my mom who is giving me the “eye” that means “don’t you dare say anything!”)

The kicker for me is that she has a huge prejudice against Mexicans. But her daughter married a Mexican and her grandchildren are 1/2 Mexican. Also-my SIL is half-Mexican so her great-grandchildren are 1/4 Mexican. When reminded of this, she says, “Oh it’s not the same. They’re Hispanic.” WTH???? The word “mexican” is a slur in her mind. Drives me nuts. Dude-if you type the word “mexican” a million times in one paragraph it starts to look really weird. ;)

I don’t really know what to do-I try to just keep quiet because, quite frankly, i think she’s a lost cause at her age. But then again-a person can always keep learning and changing no matter how old they are. And I’m concerned that one day she’s going to say something that will hurt Josie. The slanty eyes conversation happened right in front of her though she paid zero attention to what was being said. But one day she will . . . . sigh.

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:45 am

That is so hard about your grandma, Jules. I firmly believe that people *can* learn at any age — as she said — but being capable and wanting to are two different things. You’re in a hard position, girl.

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Sandra February 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm

She engaged you to provoke you and you frustrated her, way to go! People like that deserve to stew in their own venom. Disgusting. I’m terrible with sarcastic comebacks, prey to overexplaining to “well-meaning” strangers who “don’t mean to” pry, pleasantly surprised when someone is tactful, and/or gets it right, or better yet is just plain normal and nice (too rare sometimes). I like the reaffirmation this post gives me to just take the high road and walk away from ignorance. Thanks.

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:46 am

I often have trouble walking away from ignorance and so this was a good lesson (and change) for me! :) But I agree with what you said — people like that do deserve to stew. Completely agree.

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katherine February 8, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Laura,

You are an amazing mama. You taught me a lesson… sometimes it takes strength to walk away. Sometimes, the other person just isn’t worth setting straight. Seriously, I had one of those moments while reading this where the clouds parted, I could see the sun… you know what I mean…

In all seriousness, I think you are fabulous. I am sorry you had to deal with that again. Your kids look adorable… Molley’s lips are killing me! Seriously, you and Ed are going to be in so much trouble when she gets older.
Hugs,
K.

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:47 am

Hey you!!!! We need to catch up, like, two months ago.

Ed and I are screwed. Totally.

I guess the trick is for me to only leave the house when I’m exhausted and coming off of being sick so that I don’t have the energy to get into it with strangers. :) I’m only half kidding…

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Allison February 9, 2011 at 12:39 am

Laura, I am so sorry for her ignorance but so proud of your response! I have not been faced with the nastiness yet, but have had to correct several poorly worded questions. I wish I could say I educate people on preferred terminology, but I’m usually not that subtle about it!! Even when I’m pretty sure the questions are coming from someone with a sincere interest I have a hard time not telling them off with the look in my eyes. I should probably work on that because Chloe’s getting pretty good at “the look” come to think of it!!

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:48 am

There’s nothing wrong with The Look!!!!! Thank you so much, Allison. It’s sad that this was a first for me in three years, but I suppose it’s a good lesson to learn. No promises for the same response every time, but I’ve definitely learned that sometimes, it’s the right one.

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Galit Breen February 9, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Girlfriend, you nailed this one. It was perfect.

Your children are gorgeous. Are they twins? KIDDING!

You described your moment perfectly. I cringed and sighed right-alongside you all the way through.

Thank you for this post- it’s an important one.

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:49 am

Thanks, girl! I really appreciate it!

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Krista February 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm

So proud of you! You have such a beautiful family. Twins? Seriously? Gesh.

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:49 am

Thank you. xoxo

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kerryanne February 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm

The twin thing again? Really?? Good Lord. You handled it with grace, Laura. It can be tough to take the high road sometimes, but now that M is getting bigger and understands so much of what is said around him. Good post.

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:50 am

I know, Kerryanne. I keep wondering when the stupidity on that one will cease. I’m convinced that not everyone who asks genuinely thinks that, but rather are looking for a way to be intrusive. This lady sort of proved it to me. Thank you. xo

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Shelby February 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm

We get the twins question/comment all.the.time. The strange thing is that it doesn’t bother me as much when it’s the racist idiots asking/trying to push my buttons. I do get angry, though, when I’m approached by the truly stupid people who cannot see that my kids are Vietnamese and Ethiopian (or failing that, Asian and African, or failing THAT, almost four and only around 15 months old). Come on, how can you even function in this world, people?

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:51 am

Don’t you wonder how people like that function in the world — the ones who might actually think that??? We first started getting it back when the kids were nine inches apart in size. Moll was a BABY – couldn’t even walk – and Matty was a fully running toddler. Just wow, huh?

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JustMom420zaks February 10, 2011 at 7:03 am

I’ve never thought about this… I placed a son for adoption 8 years ago. He’s caucasian, but his older sister is South American and his younger brother is some kind of South East Asian (I never asked “where they got him” *sorry, just had to use that*)
I never realized what my friend (the adoptive mother of my son) had to go through from rude people.

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:55 am

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! It’s pretty amazing what people will do and say. I truly never appreciated the depth of ignorance, rudeness or stupidity that exists until I had my kids. There are so many amazing people in the world and I don’t want to ignore that, but there are also others who are…just…not. I’m a big girl and can handle a lot, but it’s upsetting because the older my kids get, the more they understand.

Laughing at the “got him” thing. That’s always a classic!!! :)

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LIsa February 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Holy #$(*#@ – I don’t get the twin question. You completely rocked how you handled it! I can’t believe how rude and ignorant people can be. How many times did she have to be told they are not twins? Open your damn eyes and it’s pretty obvious.

Love the new design and M&M are adorable as always!

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:55 am

Thanks, Lisa! xoxo

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Jess@Straight Talk February 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm

You rocked that situation. And I’m sure she felt like the complete jackass she was. What a jerk. But probably? Judging from her lack of tact and normal human manners, she probably didn’t.

The blog looks great! And I’m glad you felt good enough to get out.

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 12:56 am

Thanks so much, Jess. I appreciate that so much.

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margaret February 12, 2011 at 5:12 am

It gets harder as ones kids get older. Today, a cashier in a store asked me in front of my 8 year old daughter, if she (my daughter) is nice because she (the cashier) had heard that “those people” are nice. W.T.F.?!?! “Those people?” Kids? Adopted kids? Asians? Vietnamese? Any one of them is a stupid generalization. I asked my daughter later what she thought of what the woman said, but fortunately, she didn’t notice it. She wanted to know why I was asking so I explained that the woman had made a really stupid generalization and that it made me mad, but that I gave the woman the benefit of the doubt because I figured she was just uneducated/uniformed. I told her that if she ever feels mad because people make stupid comments, it’s okay to feel that way.

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Laura February 14, 2011 at 1:00 am

YES — “those people.” YES. That one….just…argh. I think it’s so great you talked to your daughter about it and handled it so well. At what age did you start doing that? We talk about so much with the kids, but I also want to always keep it age-appropriate and I don’t know when it’s right to start discussing stranger stupidity with them.

I have a “those people” story that really bothered me. I’ll have to share eventually. I wish the world were different.

Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

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Kori Ellis September 7, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I know this post is old but I have to comment on it.

We have three adopted kids. The youngest is blue-eyed with white skin (even though she’s half Puerto Rican). My second daughter is African American and only 2 1/2 months older. And my son is Hispanic and a year older.

I’m white, my husband is Dominican/White… and we confuse the hell out of everyone.

Well when the girls were 7 months and 9 months old we were on a plane. The flight attendant came by and said — oh, which one is yours. I said, “All of them.” She said..”Oh are these two twins (referring to the girls)?” I looked at her like she was crazy. I said, “No, they aren’t.” Five minutes later she came back and said, “Yes, they are twins, right? I mean these two — the curly headed one and the uhmm…uh… (afraid to say black) …. other one.”

I said, “No, they aren’t twins. They are sisters. They are just 2 1/2 months apart.” She looked so confused that her head almost popped off. I offered no further explanation.

Fast forward a year later, I have the three kids at the park… They are 18 months, 21 months and 3 years old at the time. I’m pushing them on the swings and some bubblehead woman walks up and says, “Oh triplets — how cute!”

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Diane November 29, 2011 at 8:39 am

I have a friend who was confronted by one of the ignorant types at work. Thankfully, she’s a 24-year-old adult and handled it well, but it really makes you wonder…

My friend is a fitness instructor and a woman she’d never met in her Zumba class approached her after class. No hello, great class, or smalltalk of any kind. The woman came right out and said to my friend, “So tell me, is it your mom or dad who’s black?” My friend is white. Yeah, she tans a bit and has really curly hair and I guess if you had an imagination and some vision issues you could assume she was biracial. She answered calmly that both her parents are white and the woman goes, “Oh so you’re adopted?” I would have lost it right there. She said that no she’s white and not adopted. But, shit who should have to explain themselves like that at work? And who comes out and says that in the first place?? WHO CARES which parent is black. In her case, neither, but my god, what a ridiculous thing to ask. She told me that’s not an isolated occurrence either.

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Erin February 9, 2014 at 10:10 am

I have had the “twins” question, too, regarding my internationally adopted boys who aren’t even close to the same skin color or age. Obviously, this person is asking the question to get more personal information that is none of their business.

I also get the “yes, but are they *real* brothers?” Very irritating. My answer is “yes, they have the same parents, they just happen not to share genes.” I usually politely refuse any further questions at that point.

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