Today I managed to survive a conference call, take my tribe to the homeschool park day and also to Orchestra. Doesn’t sound impressive? Keep in mind that orchestra requires 5 music stands and 5 violins to be taken to the car, transported, and relocated to a classroom through hallways lined with the distraction of friends! It also includes assisting my 5-year-old non-reader and 8-year-old autistic son through the hour. I signed up to learn alongside them, but my own violin has still never made it out of the case. Continue reading “OOTD: Iron Chef Prairie Girl Meets Her Inner Yoda”
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.
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.
Last week was one of those. A week that sapped us of sleep, and strength. Of two cars with issues that drained the bank, just like they did last month. Of many things broken in this house.
My mug, known by all as an extension of my arm and used every day.
My mug, this week. Followed by my favorite tea cup and my grandmother’s porcelain ash tray. All in a week.
I sighed, I felt disappointment… deeply struggled with the inner beast… but no children were broken and that is something, if you consider how close I was to edge of my walk in grace. That fine line where the sidewalk ends in this walk with my Guide. Sometimes, he’s just gonna have to carry me, because I can’t take a step.
I teetered on the edge for a minute there, but I took a deep breath. I’ve been here before more times than I could ever recall enough detail to relate to you. It’s that often. I can scream with the best of them. I can stomp and slam doors and rage to high heaven. I have, and sometimes I do, but I’m finding that it’s not as often anymore and that this grace that is said to be sufficient… it actually is if you let it be. I wonder how I got to the place where suddenly I’m choosing grace over rage more often than not. Especially when current circumstances would predict otherwise, based on past experiences and outbursts from my inner godzilla.
I suppose it could be a phase. It could be my constant expose to the need for it, and the scarred knees from falling over and getting back up, over, and over, and over, and…
I think, like many of my other blog posts will tell you, God likes to teach me how not to lose my **IT** by giving me many opportunities. Hundreds of them. Could it be that I’m finally getting the message?
Here are a few things I’ve learned in my battle between choosing a saving of Grace or a losing of **IT**.
1. WHEN I RAGE AGAINST THE GRACE. The rage does not heal and it does not put back together my pieces of broken things…the mug I love and the heirloom that I never used anyway. It was beautiful and special, but what need to I REALLY have for my grandmother’s ash tray? No, crossing the line won’t bring the things back. Any of the things. It simply breaks and bends more things around me, and the next in line tends to be my children.
2. BE PREPARED, IT WILL KEEP HAPPENING. I, alone, choose my focus, to be aware of where I am and who I am to them. To accept the truth that it is not a question of IF I will ever be on the edge of losing it again, but WHEN. We have to stop crossing our fingers and hoping for days where we are not tested. Let’s simply agree to accept as fact that we will be. We should even PREDICT that today we will be, and the real question is which way we will step. After it all, I know what happens when I cross over from this field of grace to the release of anger. The grass is not greener on the other side. Sure, there is some bizarre feeling of release in that short moment of Losing **IT** that I can try to convince myself feels “good” to let go of. It’s not good. It creates a wasteland in tiny hearts around me. Angry, selfish parenting…making our children’s mistakes and struggles about US and our day is self-centered and excludes their needs. This is THEIR day, too. I do not own it.
3. I CAN’T CHOOSE THEIR OUTCOME. My kids are individuals, who also choose their own opinion and response to my behavior. I can not guarantee that they will not reach adulthood feeling cracked and warped from being in our care. I do not choose to parent with Grace in hopes of creating perfectly behaved little people and adults that will give me a great reputation. I do it to give them an example of giving in, of choosing grace even when you don’t want to. Their perception of their childhood is their own and I can’t control how they process our moments together, the good or the bad. Many a child has felt wounds from parents who struggled to be their best but all are human and all fail. I can’t choose their reaction to us. That is theirs. I just want to be by their side in their life, which is where God has put me. Just what I asked for!!! And how I treat them will dictate how these children will trust me and want me beside them in the future, when it become THIER choice to call me…or not. Their future decisions about me start with how I care for them now. Their future decisions on when to run to grace and when to lose their own **IT** will conjure up memories of a mom. What do I want them to remember?
4. I CAN’T CHOSE CIRCUMSTANCES, BUT MY RESPONSE IS MY CHOICE. And that’s good because some of our current circumstances are much less than I had hoped. I still have my choice. I choose my actions, right now. I can refuse to cross over when I know I’m there at the edge of control, the steam rising before my eyes. When I have that split second of awareness, that moment of saving grace or losing my **IT**. A still small voice says “breathe”, but do I want to stomp my foot and scream “No!”? That point of no return where I either “Hulk” their mom before their eyes and turn green in the face, or fall back onto grace that will save me from myself and what that ability to rage inside me is capable of. Dear God, why did you have to make it so easy to go green? Moms would be so much better with your kids if you made us a little more Stepford. Just kidding. Thank you SO MUCH for not making me a Stepford!
5. I AM NOT THE **IT**, IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME. Last week wore on more than just me. Each day had it’s something for him. Husband flew away and flew back. Locked keys in the car and had to walk miles. He worked late every night except for the night that his car gave us fits and I had to drive across town to get him. That was his only “early” night at 9:30pm. Then the weekend came with no rest but side jobs to fill in for those ends that aren’t meeting at the end of this month. Then the man had hours upon hours of working on the cars and fixing his wife’s laptop so that she can write and share our the innermost whatever of our lives. This man is amazing. How did he happen to me? He wears shoes like this to work on the cars. I find myself in a lack of content because I haven’t got the color I want my shoes to be. Dumb woman. I want my eyes open. I’m only alone in this when I close them to these things.
And after all of that, a week filled with so much struggle, it was also the most filled with grace and a surrounding of prayer and precious moments with children. I was filled with utter shock, to be honest, and then joy at how often I found myself turning away from the edge of hysteria and losing of **IT**. I did it! I found it! I may not always, but I feel strength for tomorrow from what I accomplished in my heart last week. Looking back, I wonder, did I really make it through without one outburst?
I’ll take it, but I’m not applying for any awards ceremonies. Because that was just one week. Now there’s this one and I’m not one to take bets on the future. Just taking each day as it comes, thank you very much.
This morning, things were sailing along smoothly, for a Monday. All were fed and dressed with bags packed and lunches made for our two out-of-home-schoolers. The homeschoolers were ready to begin. It’s a new week and the last one is behind me. Then after we settle in, husband walks back in the front door with the 7 year old. Ladies, toddlers aren’t the only ones who wait until the last minute to go in their diaper and make you late. For those of us who are still in this diaper business with older kids….**IT** still happens. So, there I stood once again. He will be late for school, again. So will his sister. Because of a load of **IT**. And I’m not feeling the extreme edge of anger that I could, but I know this is another of those crossover moments. Mondays are already hard days, do we really have to start with **IT**? Yes, apparently we do and I don’t get a choice about that. **IT** already happened.
My choice now is in how I respond. So I walk my big boy to the bathroom trying to convince him that he DID go, but he doesn’t believe me because he doesn’t feel it or smell it. He doesn’t understand. We go through the routine, again. And I know my words, my expression and my choices will affect how this guy feels about himself as time marches on and he is still in diapers in a year… maybe even two. Third grade? Fourth? He’s the one who has to process this. I’m helping HIM. I can’t feel sorry for myself to still be dealing with diapers. This is not about me.
And he’s off to school. All taken care of. Not yelled at or shamed..whew. I made it through another change.
I’ve washed my hands 8 times. I still smell like **IT**. Now I don’t want to drink my coffee. Gets my hands too close to my face and ruins it all for me. Sigh…
I remember complaining when he was 4, unaware that the issue was not stubbornness or laziness. I did thinks like the Extreme Potty Training Makeover. Why would this kid not potty train!?!? Now, as he nears the age of 8, and we understand what he faces ( Read: A Boy And His Poop, Getting To Know Asperger Syndrome) I have to tell you. I am thankful for his issue with **IT**. Every time I change him is another chance to exercise my soul. Will I go for saving grace or for losing **IT**.
And here’s the deal. God is so into hilarity. He absolutely knows my sense of humor well and my love for a bit of irony. He has quite literally used almost 8 years of actual feces to teach me how to not to lose my **IT**. You’ve gotta admit it. That is pretty much awesome. (Want more hilarity? Read: A Pathetic Tale of Miserable Hilarity, And The Quest For A Shower)
So for those of you who have asked “How I do it”, who seem to think that I have something you don’t, be aware that I spent my time Waiting For Supermom. She doesn’t exist. I, of all people, will never reach a stake of being some kinda Mama Yoda. And let us not forget, Yoda was 900 years old!!! That’s way more practice than any of us will ever have. And there’s something else to consider…..
Notice, you never see them together, just like Miley Crunkis and Justin Blueberry… There may be something to this Yoda vs. Hulk thing. Saving Grace vs. Losing our **IT**.
I think the answer is in finding the grace that is IT, because it IS always available. The question is not whether grace exists in our moments of struggle with **IT**. His grace is present in ALL of the moments.
The ones leading up to **IT**.
The moment **IT** happens.
The second we choose whether Saving or Losing…. Grace or **IT**.
And ultimately, the grace is still there….. even if you chose to lose your **IT** this time.
It’s there. Always. You have to choose to know it, see it, grasp it, cling to it and don’t let go. I pray that it won’t take YOU almost 8 years of daily **IT**… but if that is what it will take, I’m gonna have to pray that you be blessed with lots of **IT**.
Now, while you try to process all of that…. I’m going to go wash my hands again. I really thought I had it gone that last time. But then, I always do and there’s always more…. Thankful for more…again.
I had to come up with something, even if i was just going to share it with myself. Something poetic if only to justify my day to myself.
Ruckus destroyed a project.
The Brainiac and Big Sister had been working on for hours.
This happened while they were both downstairs working on their responsibilities in our home… one ironing and one loading dishes. They were being GOOD, and obedient, pleasantly working without complaint. They didn’t deserve their work destroyed yet here we are.
Same story, different day.
So I go through the routine, but he doesn’t get it today any more than he did yesterday or the day before. There is no remorse because there is no empathy. There is no click in his brain of understanding that he has ruined their work or why they are upset. He needed those legos. Now. That is all that exists to him.
Ruckus is a sensitive kid. He is caring and loving and full or emotions. They just don’t work on the same level of awareness that the majority has. So we work on this. Often.
How do we do it? How do we show the heart of the matter to these little ones who don’t have the capacity to put themselves in the place of others. They don’t “do” outside their own box well. Their box of understanding is as intriguingly limitless and bursting with potential as it is small and restricting, to those of us who can’t see inside of it.
His heart is there.
His feelings are there.
They are boxed up.
He sees what he did. He recognizes that it was not ok. It is done and he has moved on to something else. His logic tells him to do the next thing. The whole incident is outside of his box now. It’s up to me to work it back into his frame of reference.
So we worked through that today. For awhile. I see glimmers of hope and I know we’ll get there. Not today, not next week, but I have seen the amazing other side of these people, the ones who surf a different spectrum of viewing life. I know my son will turn out as a wonderful man. God made him to be. Without a doubt.
It just requires some serious dedication from everyone in our family and everyone around us. To work inside a box, and also nudge him outside of his box.
Still, sometimes as moms of spectrum surfers we need an outlet, if only to blow off some steam in a different direction that doesn’t point toward our kids. Steam can burn. We all no that.
We need to let it go in a way that doesn’t close them in.
Back to my opening sentence. I had to think of something. Something to decompress and let go of this situation and the angry response that well up in me, threatening to ruin any headway we have made with the Ruckus.
It felt good and I’ll share it with you for a little snort and chuckle. Here it is. My garbled attempt at throwing together a few words, with no time for rhyme or reason. Just words. My attempt at being one of those clever wordsmith types who throw together phrases that say something important, but not.
A Meme Artist, if you will.
With snorts and the spitting of coffee and rolling on floors type. I want the time to do that. That may never be me. I’m not that funny, yet here is today’s offering. My 15 minutes of free time:
Teaching empathy to an autism surfer is akin to
Climbing an Eiffel Tower constructed entirely of Legos
One leg glued to the other with a mix of glitter glue and E6000 adhesive
Flopping along like a mermaid out of water,
A weighty sloth on my back.. arms wrapped round my neck twice
Little paws flopped heavily over my eyes.
This would happen, of course, the only way it could,
With my hair bedraggled, no makeup, and teeth unbrushed
Wearing the stained, beat-to-threads kinda dress that is
Only meant to be seen around the house dress,
While suddenly finding my nostrils plugged with the baby wipes
The ones left over
from the last time I changed my 8 year old’s diaper,
Which was a really bad one.
Because as you know, if you know me at all, I always smell poop. Every where I go. I smell it.
Everyone should own some E6000. For realz.