We spent the weekend in the big city this week. We were in a small sub shop, our family and another, which made for a group of four white parents, and 14 children of color that look nothing like us. In this situation, people usually bend over backwards to help us. This time was no exception. The staff were overwhelmingly kind. I am grateful for that.
Eating dinner with the FullPlateFamily involves watching me float from child to child, opening containers, mopping up spills, giving one meal from a child who is all done after about three bites to their ever-starving, near teen sibling who is always up for consuming leftovers. I rarely sit down. This meal was no exception. At one point, a lady who had been watching us from the window, where she was sitting outside with an oversized backpack and various other bags of belongings, came in to order a drink. She was obviously homeless. We were in a large, urban, downtown neighborhood. It’s not shocking, and she seemed kind. She walked up to me.
“These all your kids?” She indicated to the tables and booths that the kids all occupied.
“Just these ones.” I pointed out mine.
“Ooooo.” She shook her head as if commiserating with what she must have assumed is a hard life. That struck me as ironic. “Even the black ones?” She asked it with no remorse, not even a stutter. The question was, all of the sudden, just out there.
I chuckled. She was black too. I guess my choosing to be a parent of black children was different to her.
“Yes, all the black ones. And a few Chinese ones too.”
“They adopted or you a foster mom?”
“They’re all adopted.”
This seemed to surprise her too.
“You’re not a foster mom?”
“You can’t have your own babies?”
“These are my babies.”
She paused for a moment, eyeing me up. I assume she wondered if I didn’t understand her. But, unlike most people who I have exchanged these words with, she didn’t seem at all uncomfortable with this conversation. She wasn’t afraid of insulting me. There was no awkward explanation of what was motivating her to ask these questions. She just seemed determined to understand my motivation for being mom of these kids.
“Yeah, but you didn’t want babies…from you?”
“I wanted THESE babies.” This time, my answer was more firm. I didn’t look away, and neither did she. I don’t owe anyone any explanations. Neither does she.
There was a pause.
“Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.” And on she walked.
No, no there isn’t.
–FullPlateMom, who will want, and love, these babies for the rest of time.