It happened for the 4,356,837 time today. As my four (not 10, not 21, just four) children and I stood in the checkout line at Walmart with their new flip flops in cart, someone behind me decided to say it.
“Wow! You sure have your hands full!”
We moms typically don’t know whether this is a compliment or not when you hear it. Until you see the body language and facial expression that accompany the much over-used line, you are immediately put on guard. We don’t have time to evaluate you. We are with our children.
I turn and look to see a nice thin, tall hippy/earthy looking woman in her fifties who has the look of being happily single her whole life and terrified of kids. She was scowling.
Yes, I looked. No ring.
Only a look of horror on her face as she took in the view of my little brood, looking down her nose with lips pursed tight.
She surely has cats. Lots of ’em.
I put on a smile, so as not to scare her, and rattle of my well-rehearsed standard response. God calls us to be kind, especially to strangers.
“Well, better than empty. At least they’re full of life!”
Don sweetest smile.
Turn back around to my kids.
It was then,
“I just can’t even imagine… WHAT possessed you??”
Yes…she did. I couldn’t make that up.
She said possessed.
I took a deep breath to reel in my inner Madea. I know the hair standing on my neck had to show, and the raising of my right eyebrow couldn’t be helped.
I turned again, using my happiest sarcastic voice…
“What possessed me? As in…demons?
Do my kids look like the product of demon possession to you?
As for possession, these four are the most amazing people in my life and worth more than any other POSSESSIONS that I have.
No demons involved in that.
I actually have REALLY good sex with my husband. And often.
Thanks for asking such an interesting question. That’s a first for me.”
She started to sputter, almost choked even, disclosing her experience with her brother having 5 boys and it just looked like so much work, and she didn’t personally understand “the draw”, but she was sorry.….Oh, goodness.
I looked back one more time.
“It’s really fine. Have a great day.”
And then as it was my turn to check out, and all four were working together to unload the cart very nicely, the poor cashier smiles at me… and says…
“You sure have your hands full!”
Oh. Lord. Help…
Poor innocent, unaware, little Walmart employee.
I put the smile back up.
“Ya know, EVERYONE has their hands full.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
It’s up to you what you choose to fill them with. I choose THEM, every single day.”
She thought it was sweet. I didn’t look back at kid-free-scowler, but I’m sure she had some sort of interesting response.
I DID hear the couple behind her giggle, for the second time.
So in defense of our full hands, moms, let us all remember that not having them would only give us empty hands to fill.
Maybe with a life consuming career. Look up the definition of consumption, will ya? I don’t want life consumed, although I know those who love theirs.
How about 700 cats like this lady. Maybe just one or two cats? Or how about be a lover of dogs so you can approach a mother at Piedmont Park walking her adorable baby in a stroller, with the dog along, and fawn over the K9 while ignoring that there is an adorable little person right there that is actually more valuable. Oh wait, because they aren’t as important to you.
And we have pets. Well loved pets. It’s the section of the childless crowd that values their pet over small PEOPLE that get to me.
Ladies, we could be making bank. Empty hands-not-full could mean fistfuls of money!! If each of our spawn didn’t cost $5,439,345 to raise like all the websites say. We are REALLY missing out on that cha-ching.
You really don’t want to get me started on possession and the American need to fill our lives with stuff instead of… LIVES. Possessions, over people. Because if we had more, we’d never be able to take them aaaallll to Disney!?!?
You could just have empty arms without them, and fill them with whatever man you want. History has shown that does not lead to the most FULL-filling lifestyle.
And, mothers, let us never EVER forget the women who have empty arms not by choice. Who ache to hold the hope and warmth of a unique and precious immortal soul in the shape of a child who calls her Mom.
A disdainful comment of “You sure have your hands full.” is a downright attack on them, the moms who are moms but hands are not full. Those who would give anything and everything they can get their hands on, to fill their arms with the life and chaos we experience every day in our children.
So, rock your full hands, mamas!
Look at them in wonder and awe… see their strength and value.
And I encourage you to come up with a really great response. Memorize it, know it, and own it. Be prepared for the 1,000,001 of times it will be said to you if you have more than the standard two children.
Because until our society values these small people over possession, OUR choice to fill our arms this wide and full will be critiqued and commented on, shocking this possession obsessed culture day in and day out.
For extra evidence to defend my point, here are my parents, with all 10 of us children, 8 children-in-law, and over 20 grandchildren (2 more on the way!). Do they look like they need pity? They made huge sacrifices for us. And I am so, so thankful for it every day.
THIS right here is what blessed looks like. Don’t ever doubt that.
To be fair, I have a career, I love our pets and I absolutely enjoy extra money and shopping.
It’s valuing these possessions over children, when they’re not even your own, that makes fire spew from my ears. There has always been a small portion of the population who disdain children, but it’s growing, my friends. Our children need to hear us respond in confidence, valuing who they are.
Comment with your favorite response to the remark, “You sure have your hands full.” I could use some fresh ideas myself.
UPDATE: After being asked a few times today why the statement “You have your hands full!” is offensive, I spent some time thinking about it and wrote a follow up.