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.)
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…
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. ;)