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Becoming a Sherpa is Not An Option

Last week at our music class, Things One and Two and I met a skinny blonde lady who is the mother to five children — which she delivered without drugs — and is preggers with her sixth. Her SIXTH. That’s half-a-dozen, six-to-one, higher-than-Drew-can-count, bottom-wallopin’ SIX. And she was in skinny jeans, the wizardess. Did I mention she was blonde and it looked natural? And that she was MAYBE 30 years old? WEARING EYE SHADOW??

I will go ahead and admit to you now that sometimes we bloggers like to exaggerate things for dramatic or humorous effect. In this case, I am probably underdelivering this most remarkable woman.

Sometimes I want to sell my things and become a Sherpa.  

Then it was weird because in our conversation I found out she used to attend my dad’s church and knows something of my family, which incidentally is also quite large — me being the oldest of five (FIVE, count ‘em FIVE little ducklings all sitting in a row) — which immediately makes me wonder if she automatically assumes I am one of HER kind, the type that would have six kids. Which I’m not. But in a way it makes me feel like preening, standing there talking to her, fiddling with strands of my hair, imagining she thinks me part of the Inner Ring of Super Wombs. That I look as if I belonged and could pull it off and maybe become a committee chair or something. Little does she know I’m barely holding my head above the surface with only just two; that my tired little womb is swooning on the chaise lounge, and that if she saw me at home two hours later I would be surfing Facebook, pining sinfully for the day the kids are old enough to go to school so I can do yoga mid-morning and write my memoirs. But this girl will probably home school, like my mother did, and weave all her children’s clothes from the sustainable cotton she grows behind her award winning organic vegetable garden.

And receive a birthstone-encrusted tiara in Glory from Mother Mary herself, whom she calls “M” affectionately.

And make sustainable organic cotton onesies for all the baby cherubs, which she will insist on breastfeeding with her blessed golden nipple.

All before lunch, which is never from McDonalds.

I’m not saying I can’t be friends with this girl. All of my really close friends are impressive and I kind of like it that way; it’s good to go through life in awe of the people you love. So why should I feel so threatened? Forming female friendships is a little like laying siege to a castle (because we definitely know all about that, right girls? Anybody? Anybody?); you have to find a point of weakness to forge ahead. Usually a point of common weakness, a common vulnerability. Maybe boys or celebrities make friends based on common strengths, but all my most comfortable friends are the broken ones.

And I’m sure if I had spoken with this woman for five minutes longer, I would have found a point of entry. She had the most perfect flaxen ponytail and the milkiest complexion; she was strikingly beautiful really, now that I look back on it, but it was hard to see it in that kind of environment — the harsh basement lighting of the music room, the raucous toddlers. It was like coming face to face with the woman I know I am not but which I would be very satisfied to be (but which I know I never will be), which made we wonder who I am right now and who I might turn out to be. It was like coming face to face with my own mother at the same age and wondering, “Would we have been friends?”

I was in awe. I was in love. I was…mortified. WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?    

Let me just interject here that people who have high standards in life, who value children and large families deeply and have committed themselves to such a calling, should not be subject to cheap pot-shots by jealous bloggers. I hesitate to subject this woman to any form of snarkiness because I remember the tightness in my mother’s face as she defended herself, her large brood and homeschooling to the snippy Hallmark clerk circa 1990 when it appeared my many siblings and I were playing hooky like some backwoods cult who had come to pick out weird greeting cards for new moon celebrations. I didn’t understand at the time that the world is uncomfortable with the extraordinary; that my mother was extraordinary. They have chosen a narrow path, these women, a difficult path — one that requires courage and conviction and all the selflessness one can muster. I should be inspired, not threatened, and should strive to approach my parenting with the same seriousness and reflection, even if my end-of-the-day decisions look very different. Very, very, very, very different.

But did she really have to wear the skinny jeans?