Post Script to Yesterday’s Post

Is that the right term?

Whatever.  You guys know what I mean.

So yesterday, I wrote out this whole rant about some comments I felt were rude by a few of the patrons during a local grocery trip.

And as I’ve had time to cool off, and think, and read your comments, I felt like it needed some additional words.

(Go read the post if you haven’t or else this one won’t make a lick of sense.)

“Homeschool” Lady:

You know, as the day wore on, and my blood pressure came down, I started to feel really really convicted that I posted about her so angrily.  After all, I truly had absolutely NO IDEA why she asked me if I homeschooled.  Could she have been making some kind of rude assumption based on preconceived notions about families with “many” children?  (And by the way, I don’t really think 4 is “many”, but I’m finding that much of society does).  She could have been making a veiled rude assumption.  But she also could have been asking because it was the middle of the day and I had all of them with me (except that my kids are 4, 2, and 2 so they wouldn’t be in school anyway).  Maybe she was a homeschooler when her kids were young and she was going to say more and didn’t because I was clearly moving right along with my day and didn’t intend to chat?

All of those are very possible.  And I didn’t ask her.  I didn’t engage her to find out more.  And I assumed the worst.  And that’s yucky.  And just as judgmental on my part.  Blah.

So, I come to you, reader…hat in hand to tell you that my angry rant was inappropriate and certainly not God glorifying.  Part of me wants to delete the whole thing, but really…I won’t.  Because I’m not perfect.  And I never ever ever want to paint a portrait on this blog of that being the case.  So it will stay.

Now, onto the next…

Tsk Lady:

Some of you commented that simply because someone says “You have your hands full!”, it isn’t place to be offended and get all upset.

AND I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU.

What I suppose I should have included in my colorful storytelling of yesterday’s adventures, was of the FOUR other people in the store who DID in fact say the same exact words…and I wasn’t in the least bit offended by it.  (apparently we were really popular that day…we don’t quite get that much attention regularly).

Freezer section, two middle aged women chatting.  “Are they all yours?”  “Yes, they are.”  Smiles all around.  The tone was kind hearted and warm.  “How old are they?”  “4, 2, and 2.  The girls are twins.”  “Oh!  I had twins, but they’re in high school now…” and on went a few minute conversation with both of these random women who started out with the proverbial hands full comment.  It was pleasant and sweet and I loved the interaction.  No big deal.

Pasta aisle, elderly man and woman: “Are they all yours?”  “Yes, m’am.”  “Well enjoy this time, it goes by so fast!  Our girls are now 67!”  Smiles.

Please know that there was a vast difference in the tone of voice, the way a smile was replaced with a furrowed brow…and quite possibly a sneer.  When you get comments from strangers on a regular basis, you see every version of tone out there.

In the same way someone can say “Are you going to eat that?” and it’s a simple question…and they can say “Are you going to eat that?!” in a way that implies you really shouldn’t be for whatever reason.  I can say “Oh wow!” or “Oh.  Wow!“  Same words, vastly different meaning behind them.  Add to that body language and facial expressions and the recipient of said words can fairly well tell what your intentions were.  And you know what?  Maybe the deliverer was having a bad day.  Maybe it came out bad and they didn’t mean it.  I get it.  After all, I’ve made comments before and my husband has asked “What’s wrong?  Are you in a bad mood?”  and I kinda jump in surprise.  “What?  No.  Sorry, I didn’t mean for it to come out that way!  I’m fine!”  So I’m not suggesting there isn’t room for miscommunication (um, I mean, it is a 45 second exchange next to Jalapeno Cheese Dip…not exactly in-depth discussion here).  But I will say that as a mama who quite regularly interacts with random strangers (I’m not a shy violet…and neither are any of my kids), we get both sides of the coin often.

And I think that many a mama to “many” children will tell you that they have had similar experiences.  Perhaps we’re all overly sensitive and overreacting.  Every last one of us.  After all, we are tired.  But I find it hard to believe that we’re all incapable of sensing intonation.  The fact that so many readers can relate to my experience hints at it being an unfortunate reality.

If I had a nickel for every time someone said “Your hands are full!”, I’d probably be rich.  Well, a nickel isn’t much, so maybe I’d at least go shopping at Anthro regularly.  And really, that comment in and of itself is harmless.  A vast majority of the time.  I also even get the “You’re brave!” a lot.  And you know what?  9 times out of 10 comments such as these are paired with a smile and maybe even a chuckle.  Or a follow up of “Well, they are all super cute.”  Or something.  And I just grin and my kids wave and I move along undisturbed.  I don’t blog about those interactions.  Maybe I should.

BECAUSE MY HANDS ARE FULL.  Ohmygoodness.  It can be overwhelming to have a four year old boy…a precocious 2 year old…a two year old, getting heavier by the day, who can’t walk…and a 6 month pregnant belly that frankly, looks more like 8 months.  Oh, and a purse filled with a wallet, cell phone, extra diapers, wipes, emergency seizure meds, a rogue shoe, and crumbled pretzels.  It IS a lot.  Honestly.  Somedays I fight back tears.  Somedays I don’t leave the house…not because I don’t want to but because I know it would be an utter disaster if I did.  Somedays I could use a break.  Not most days.  But somedays.

So please don’t feel like you can’t say that a mama’s hands are full.  It’s fine.  And frankly, she could probably use some adult interaction.  So do it!  Tell her she has her hands full.  And SMILE.  Maybe tell her she looks like she’s doing a fantastic job at it (even if she looks frazzled…especially if she looks frazzled).  Or that her kids are darling.  Or that you remember those days fondly.  Or just SMILE in her general direction.

So here’s what we’re going to do this week.  All of us.  You in?

This week, when you see a mama, no matter how many kids she has…go out of your way to say something nice to her.  I know, I know…some of you are all shy and such, but that’s okay.  Your comfort zone is irrelevant in this task.  Say anything at all.  It doesn’t have to be rehearsed.  Just say it warmly and kindly.

Bonus points if you come across a mom who’s kid is LOSING it.  Like, absolutely looney massive temper tantrum style.  Is her kid a terror that needs discipline?  Maybe.  Or has he been couped up for five days and just had heart surgery and he’s out of sorts?  Maybe.  No matter.  I make it a point to look over and say “It’s hard somedays, huh?  You’re doing fine.”  And then I’ll smile.  Because it IS hard.  And she does have her hands full.  And she’s probably about to cry right next to her kid.

And it’s life.  We’ve all been there.

My overall lesson in this exercise: just as they say in college to not “drunk dial”…nor should I “angry post”…because it’s ugly and doesn’t extend grace and then I have to write follow up posts.  ;)

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jeannett
I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.
jeannett
jeannett

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Comments

  1. 1

    You are AMAZING. What a way to turn something negative into something positive. You brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for your honesty. We all need a lesson like this once in awhile.

  2. 3
    Mary Kay says:

    You hit the nail on the head with the tone of voice and body language. My parents drilled into us, “It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it.” No amount of excuses and rationalizations can cover up real intentions when you speak words that can be taken multiple ways. That’s the part that can’t come through in the written word. But I trust your instinct, and you wouldn’t have posted it, had it been innocent, kind words.

    I love your transparency, and you are a good momma for sure!

  3. 4

    Hey, I love this! You are keeping it real.

    We are human, you know? I think it’s natural to get upset and offended, it’s how we react that really is the kicker. I recently forgave an old roommate who deeply, deeply betrayed and hurt me. This was a long time in the coming. It has completely liberated me, spiritually and emotionally.

    I love that you are asking us to do something good. I try to be kind to everyone I meet, see them as the daughter or son of God that they are. It is so hard, a daily battle, but I am trying.
    creole wisdom´s last blog post ..senior portraits, or cool old car

  4. 5

    This post totally blesses me. I appreciate your honesty and humility here and more so I love that you ask us to step outside of our comfort to give someone else comfort and encouragement. As a total introvert I’m going to take your challenge and do it anyway. ;)
    michelle s.´s last blog post ..Happy Anniversary

  5. 6

    yes, but if that’s what it takes to get a beautiful follow up post with so much encouragement for us and for us to share, it was worth it!! Bless you! It’s hard some days, but, mama, you are doing fine! :)

  6. 7

    I think it’s great that you angry post and then recognize it and fix it. That’s real life. In my comment yesterday I mentioned I got comments about my 5 three times in one store. I could tell the difference between the older couple who was entertained and encouraging and the woman who was horrified. I’ve learned to just smile either way because, like you said – IT IS HARD! I happen to see the hard as an enormous blessing. I can’t help it if the lady checking us out at the grocery store doesn’t see it that way.
    I’ve shared this story with so many people and I just have to share it here, even if my comment is getting too long :)
    Several years ago I was about 7 months pregnant and took the oldest 3 to Costco. It was a horrible experience. The kids were so, so bad and I was the mom who was about to lose it. I wanted to just sit on the floor and cry. We finally made it out of the store and I was loading kids and groceries into my car, another mom, a little older than me, came up to me and said she had noticed I was a bit frazzled in the store…and then she asked me if she could pray with me. Of course I said yes! She prayed some of the most beautiful, sincere words I’ve ever heard. She had absolutely no way of knowing I’m a believer but she was brave enough to ask me if she could pray with me. That was an enormous blessing to me! I will never, ever forget it and I hope I get to thank her someday. I don’t know that I’m brave enough to approach someone in the same way, and let’s be honest, me approaching someone with 4 or 5 kids in tow will most likely not be a peaceful situation, but as I smile at the mom in the store who I can tell is about to lose it, I also say a prayer for her because I know how much it helped me that day.
    This mom gig is hard. I think it would be a little easier if we helped each other out with a kind smile and encouraging word. Thanks for sharing your heart today!
    Kelly´s last blog post ..We Mustache You A Question

    • 8

      what an amazing story… what courage it must have taken for her to approach you and yet she did. it must have taken you by surprise to have a stranger pray for you out loud by your car. i bet it really changed your outlook and your day.
      sandi´s last blog post ..snow skiing with mommy

  7. 9

    I believe each comment is judged by its delivery. I am much like you and smile at people in the store just to be nice. Yesterday in line at the drugstore to get medication for my sick hubby a girl about 10 turned around to talk to me about my phone. I am sure that her mother didn’t like the fact that she was talking to a stranger so I politely answered her questions about my new phone app. After they checked out the girl waived and said good bye. It was such a sweet interaction.

  8. 10

    Wah! What you said about the “homeschool” lady asking in the middle of the day made me remember something…and now I am almost choked up. It’s the whole out-of-touch thing. I recall people of an older generation asking why the kids aren’t in school, etc. even though the children are obvious Littles to us. What a silly question! Why would my 2 year old be in school anyway??? But they’ve lost touch. I pray I never will…but I already have. I had to wrack my brain on the kind of baby gift I felt my sis-in-law could not live without, and Marissa is only five! Wah! I want to be there for the Mamas, even when I’m in between Littles and grandkids. I don’t want to forget what it was like! Even the hard days, which I know I’m blocking right now – I hope I don’t block them enough that I can’t knowingly smile when I see someone with her babies just making it through.

    And though you feel like you ranted, I really am grateful that you let us know what some people do when they see bigger families. It’s good to have awareness of it, because I like to do the opposite and proclaim how lovely it is to have a big, joyful, noisy family. I would have had more if my husband had been on board. He wasn’t. I grieved and moved on, but the two-kid family is overrated and it is just one more reason why I worry about society in America. (But I know I just have to give it to God!)

    And don’t even get me started on the reasons why our hormones go Baby-crazy when our children are 3 months, 12 months and 2…it would seem that God has no problem at all with closer spacing!

  9. 11

    Great follow-up post! I felt sort of bad disagreeing with your take on these interactions in my comment yesterday but I really felt that you were being a little negative/sensitive. I agree with everything you have said here. And I don’t know what it’s like to get sneers about having many children (even though that would be a blessing to an infertile like me!). I guess I just don’t understand why someone would do that (tsk at you having 3-4 kids).
    Cindy´s last blog post ..Church

  10. 12

    thanks for being real….. I liked your post yesterday and I liked your post today! and personally I feel like “you have your hands full” generally has a negative connotation… I dont usually think of happy smiley, encouraging people using that line. whatevs….. with that being said I hope my hands are really full someday!!

  11. 13

    I have several mom friends who’ve been through those kinds of comments, so I think your emotions are totally normal.
    Plus, my brother and his wife homeschool all my neices (ages 6, 10 and 12) and have heard it all! (they started at the charter school this last fall and love it – probably the same one you guys are thinking of – only theirs is the AG one)
    Kirsten´s last blog post ..Inside…work in progress

  12. 14
    Jennifer says:

    I love your heart Jeannette. Thanks for being willing to share it with all of us.

  13. 15

    I feel your pain. I hadn’t read your post yesterday, but went back & read it just now. All of what you said in that post & in this one, describes my interactions when out to a T. Obviously, with having a four year old son & two year old twin girls as well, we get lots of looks of judgment. Doesn’t help that I sometimes look like I could have just graduated high school last year! I am always sure to say “my husband” or mention that I’m a teacher, when talking to people who I feel are judging my age & the age of my kids. Isn’t it horrible that I feel like I have to justify myself to others just so I’m not judged. I also try to do what you said at the end here, give a mom of young kids an encouraging look or even a helping hand. One day last week I was by myself leaving the grocery store when a young mom with a baby on her hip had dropped her cart cover heading in. She had her diaper bag & I ran over & picked it up for her so she wouldn’t have to try to balance the baby & her bag while picking it up. It’s those little acts of kindness I get when out with my “handful of kids” that make my day!
    Heather @ Life as we know it with Two Twinkies & a Tater Tot´s last blog post ..InstaFriday

  14. 16

    I’m a fan of the angry post. Not every day. Not even every month. But once in a great while. Why? Because I get angry, too. Especially as a momma. And then I fume. And then I feel guilty. And like I’m the only momma that has those moments. So thank you for not deleting:)

    I had to take my 2 year old in for an xray the other day and she asked if there was any chance I was pregnant. ‘No’ I replied, ‘but I’m breastfeeding.’ She said (!) ‘Oh, your one of those who breastfeed until they go to kindergarten.’ Wha…????? ‘Not this one’, I said, ‘I’m breastfeeding my two month old!’ I seriously had to laugh that she said that out loud to me!!

    I love your blog- thanks to the millionth for being real and yourself!!

    Jessie Lynn
    Bloom in the Details´s last blog post ..It’s Okay…

  15. 17

    I actually liked your post yesterday, because sometimes we just need to get it out ;) And I know those comments (from a mom of only a 2 & 4 yr old) and I know the tone. What really blew me over was the comment from the tsking lady and I’m glad that you said something back. It’s funny because just a generation or 2 ago, a family of 3/4 was normal or maybe even small, but now you get looks and judgment.

    I like your challenge though, and I’m going to take it!

  16. 18

    Just wanted to let you know that while I was out today, someone asked my son how old he was. He proudly responded, “TWO!” (So he’s 2 1/2, but what toddler says that?!) Then the lady looked at the sleeping baby in the carrier I had just hauled up 2 flights of stairs and asked how old she was. Without thinking, I told her she was one. Then came, THE LOOK. She said, “Wow. Really, WOW!” Then I knew what she was thinking… this lady has a 2 year old AND a 1 year old! But I was still trying not to catch on to what she was getting at until she said, “Well, they are still sweet.” Who says that?! Or at least says that out loud?

    Anyway, not to let my rant get the best of me, your posts yesterday came immediately to mind. So before I walked out the door, I chose not to let her bizarre words get the best of me. I chose, instead, to be thankful for the 3 people on the way up the stairs who stopped, smiled and waved at my son. And I am reminded to pass on graciousness and kindness to others! Thank you for sharing yesterday and letting your difficult moment at Trader Joe’s change my outlook today!

  17. 19

    Well, I guess I’m glad I’m not the only one who has written a post in the thick of frustration/emotions! But we ALL understand. And we all appreciate your honesty, too! You’re just a real person with real emotions – and as Christians, we don’t always think as Jesus thinks…we’re sinners who fall so short.

    Just a heads up – once #4 arrives, you’re going to get a whole LOAD of comments from strangers! Seriously – I don’t consider four “a lot” either, but for some reason society does and they also feel the need to comment! I honestly don’t think there’s a time we’re out in public that we don’t get at least a little comment (one guy this weekend said “Wow, you’ve got a gaggle there!”) Most are sincere and really, you can’t blame them – we’re all curious beings. I know that when I see a mom with a bunch of kiddos, I REALLY want to ask if she’s going to have more. Of course I DON’T, but I WANT to! And up here, if we see a family with a lot of children, people assume we’re Catholic, and just ask us, flat out sometimes – I could take offense to that, but I also consider where people are from and what they are taught…and growing up up here, I was taught that Catholics didn’t use birth control – so what else is there to deduct from that?! Ha!

    Enjoy your family of (almost) six – it’s a wild ride – but a fun, blessed one!
    Lindsay´s last blog post ..Nora {Weeks 45 thru 48}

  18. 20

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