Just a lil' tip...

There is a haunting phrase that has been following me since I went from just one child to two. Now that I am a mother of three children age 4 and under, this grating phrase is the most common comment I hear when out and about with my beautiful cherubs. In all number of public places I have heard it. It has been uttered in varying tones from disgust to that all too familiar high pitched Texan tone that people use when they say "bless his heart" and really mean, "what a poor stupid soul". Some of you mommies reading this are already seething, knowing fully the provocative and boringly common phrase. For those of you still in the dark, scratching your head and wondering, here it is:

"Wow....you've got your hands full!"

So, what do I say to that? Literally speaking, with just ONE child both of your hands are full. So, are we not to have more than one child and go out in public? How am I to respond to a question like that without correcting them by saying that my hands are FULL of blessing and thus creating an awkward interaction? That's like telling a disgruntled teenage that he/she has a pimple on their nose. Don't do it--it's an obvious statement and is unhelpful to the receiver's state of mind!

Now, I know that my little family has crossed the normal threshold in more ways than one--particularly in how many kids we have and how close they are in age--but it is not like I am Mrs. Duggar--with my 19 kids trailing behind me at the grocery store (and even if I was, so what!!) Although, if you were in my shoes today, you would have thought that was the case. Almost every person who spoke to my children and I made a comment about my full hands and if they didn't say it, they thought it as they shook their head at me or glared in confusion as to my reality of a cartful of children who were less than happy to be confined to a shopping cart. I will admit that my little angels were acting more like little devils so I understand how I was ruining their grocery shopping experience. However, saying "Wow, you've got your hands full" is just a polite, unhelpful, passive aggressive way of telling someone that they have one too many kids. If that's not what the sender means to communicate then I suggest they come up with a better phrase. If engagement with a young mom and her many kids at the grocery store is what is intended, then how about this alternative phrase, "Wow...your children are (insert any positive superlative)!"

Whew! Glad to get that off my chest. To end on a more uplifting note, read over the beautiful, life-giving lyrics to the song copied below:

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o'er life's finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.

All I owe you paid for me
From all I owe I’ve been set free
And all I owe proves your great mercy to me

When I stand before your throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see you as you are
Love you with unsinning heart,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.

All I owe you paid for me
From all I owe I’ve been set free
And all I owe proves your great mercy to me

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Savior's side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe.

All I owe you paid for me
From all I owe I’ve been set free
And all I owe proves your great mercy to me

All I Owe, by Matthew Smith


arbuckle said…
I encourage the act of exacerbating awkward situations and making the would be offender the offended. It brings me devilish delight . . . I guess I should repent of that . . . ahem.
Becky said…
Girl, you know that even with two kids you hear it all the time. Now with three it's like we are a whole other world. It really bothers me that 3 kids is "so many" to some people. I'm like, "it's three....seriously, only three." And a lot of their comments suggest that even the thought that you may have more is crazy. It's really sad in a way b/c children are such a blessing and we need to populate the world with some Christ centered kids, and what better way than to have more than one or two of our own. My second thought, is that I feel like we have entered into a secret club now...it's the "big family" club. Like all of a sudden any mom with 3 or more kids includes me in their discussion like I am a part of their secret "hands full" club. :) So funny. I usually respond with, "yes, my hands are full of many blessings." And I find that most people say, "yes, they are a blessing indeed" (even when they don't mean it) But if they are throwing a fit I usually respond, "ha, ya" and that's it. I really think some people say it as a way to say, "hey, I recognize that what you are doing here...grocery shopping with three little kids, is hard and not easy." I guess I should convert this super sized comment into an e-mail but my hands are so full I just don't have the time ;) Love you girl. B
Janette said…
I've already been hearing it, just being due-any-day-now-pregnant and having an 18 month old. Sometimes its more like a warning..."Wow, your hands are GOING to be full," or a declaration of insight...."Things are going to get REALLY busy." I think its the closeness in ages that get people in my case...what poor planning we did! ;) I can only imagine what it will be like with three or more children actually here. Kyrsten, once you come up with a good response, post it here so I can know how to respond!
Tammy said…
okay, I guess I obviously have not checked this in quite a while, but this grandmother is irritated that anyone would consider it a negative thing to have more than one child! I wish that I had been able to have more, but God blessed me w/two to raise and two more who are blessings to my children. I, too would like to see you answer, "yes, I feel that my hands are full of blessings, thank you" smile and go on about your business. I'm so very proud of the wonderful Mommy that you are!!

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