I am so thankful that my last post, Raise Your Hand if Your Hands are Full has spoken to so many of you. Thank you so much for reading my post and taking a minute to comment or share. To be honest, I felt like I was ranting and raving a bit over something that really should not be such a big deal. It shouldn’t work me up so much, right? There are times that it doesn’t, to be sure. When it is said with a smile, or a tone that does not imply shock, or horror, or give the feeling that the person would rather have any life but yours…. The nice ones are not the norm.
I was asked by a couple of people today why this statement is so offensive to moms, when it seems so well meaning. Over dinner with my family, fighting over who got the most delicious looking nachos, I took a step back to think through my reactions and process what the statement of “You have your hands full” implies and why it feels like a very big deal. So the truth is that it many times is not offensive. But we all know that some-kind-percentage-that-is-a-lot of speech is body language and tone. THAT is what this is about.
1. A child who is often badly behaved is called “a handful”. I have 4 children. The statement of “You have your hands full.” has a pretty close correlation and it’s easy to conclude that they two go together. If I have my hands full, it sounds like my children must be a handful. They are not. They are friggin’ AWESOME!
2. I get the hands full comment at least once a week. This was the 4th time in 2 weeks. I’m sure moms of more children get it even more often. It just gets old… Like a good friend of mine who’s last name is Scheidt (pronounced Shite). Do you really think he needs to hear someone comment on it? AGAIN?!?!?
3. I have never had someone say it with a look or tone that implies they admire my position. I DO get comments that are wonderful and encouraging. When people complement my children or myself, it has never been with such a knee jerk statement. They typically use their own words or something about how they miss theirs, wish they had had more, etc.
4. In other instances in life where we see someone with their “hands full”, we assume that they need help. Maybe they are about to drop something. A picture of a lone woman with arms full of groceries in the rain comes to mind. They must be overloaded. And that the “full hands” certainly can’t hold anything else, so what else is there to me? I am not overloaded. In fact I am sure we will have at least 2 more children.
5. It is always an unsolicited comment. Typically by someone who is watching you with so many kids, and then accidentally makes eye contact and can’t think of anything to say. They’re uncomfortable. They realize that they were gawking and assume that you really give a hoot about it. It’s like the southern habit of saying “Well, bless your heart.”. Which is really the same as calling someone a fool in need of pity. Well, To quote my childhood crush, Mr. T, I pity the fool who doesn’t understand how rocking fun my life is.
6. For a busy mother who loves her life with her kids (even if she looks haggard) it gives us the same feeling that it gives a single woman when she is patronized for being alone. “You’re such a LOVELY girl. I just can’t believe some nice man has not snatched you up yet.” That single girl may love the way her life is, or she may want a man in it. Whichever way she feels, the comment just kinda sucks. It’s not doing anything for her, and just makes the person speaking feel good about saying something.
7. Ultimately, it often unintentionally implies that this is all work. Mothering more than 2 is just so, so much that it is astonishing. The person making the statement is looking at me and what I must have to do and how much it is to deal with. The statement never accounts for the 4 little people standing before them, or acknowledges them as the amazing individuals that they each are. It is a comment that focuses on what appears to be overwhelming, without mention of the overwhelming wonder that each and every child is.
It never would have bothered me before I had kids, so I can understand why it doesn’t make sense to some. And maybe we as moms of more than 2 kids are too sensitive. Every now and then someone says it with such a smile that I know they mean well. It’s rare, and those cases don’t bother me a bit. But that is not the norm, I assure you. I don’t know many moms who take the hands full statement as a compliment. I feel like that is saying something about what it implies to us?
We love our kids. We love using our hands. We hold them and care for them daily.
Yes, our hands are full. Wanna give us a hand?
Reblogged from Your Momstinct.