At the grocery store, my children enjoy helping me load the belt at check out. They also load the bulging bags back into the silver cart for the stroll to the van.
The middle-aged clerk commented, "You sure have a lot of nice helpers today."
"Yes," I beamed the proud mommy grin, "I have a the best helpers in the world."
She seemed a tad confused by the compliment. Maybe moms aren't supposed to brag on their own children, or maybe it's that we aren't even supposed to like our own children. She furrowed her brow, "Are they yours?"
I gave the simple, "Yes" but I could feel it coming. It happens all the time.
She suspiciously eyed my brood more closely. Our family could enter the Sesame Street "one of things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong, can you guess which thing is not like the others, before we finish this song" contest. And we'd win. One boy does more than tan in the summer sun- he practically glows an unmistakable bronze. All my other children blaze a sunburned red smeared over Lilly white when sunscreen is not applied.
Anyhow, the clerk proceeded, "Are they all yours?"
"Yes, all mine." I proclaim with a gratuitous smile. But I know what she's thinking. It became obvious as she was no longer friendly to my sweet helpers or me.
With strangers there is always the painful scrutiny that I'm probably one of those loose women who has multiple baby daddies, and one man was the wrong color. Or maybe they are thinking something worse about my "poor" children. There's no comfortable way to stop the scorn. While we are proud to be adoptive parents, pointing out his birth circumstances to complete strangers wouldn't bless my son.
I wouldn't trade my life for the world, but I'd like to change the world. For the better. I just so happen to believe change begins with me, so I concluded my grocery store experience with the most sincerity I could muster, "I hope you have a great day. And thank you for your help."