Yesterday I took my daughter to her weekly medical appointment for a chronic condition. This is nothing new for us but something occurred twice in our trip that I have heard happen to other mothers, I received the “you have your hands full” comment. Apparently this is a right of passage for mothers but something about it made me cringe.
My children are still hand holders in public places. They are both young and can be busy. While entering the medical facility a man stopped and said, “Boy, you got your hands full.” It wasn’t said with appreciation or with any sort of fondness. It was said in a tone of pity. It was my first time experiencing this “you got your hands full phenomenon.” I only have two children, so I thought I would earn that (beautiful) right if we ever became the Duggars.
I took my daughter to her appointment and I sat with my son in the waiting room. It gave me a little time to ponder what that man had said. He said it like he had said it a thousand times before, as did many others like him. Why would this man pity me mothering my children?
The appointment was over, we raced to the elevator to see who could get there first. The winner got to push the button to the first floor. When we got off the elevator, we were a moving unit of energy and excitement. Not one of us had spoken a word, yet the voice of a different stranger spoke up.
“You’ve got your hands full.” This time with mixed tones, personal dread and disdain. “I knew I was done after one” She said flatly.
I went through so many emotions because quite honestly her response isn’t anything new. It is common to view children or motherhood in such a way. This is a worldview that demoralizes our children. From a perspective that views them almost less than an adult, less than human.
After all, we are a society that aborts our unborn and refer to babies early in the womb as “tissues” or “clumps of cells.” We create these terms in order to build a barrier between the fact that, the clump of cells are a actual human baby.
I felt angry, my children could hear her.
See I believe children are whole persons, that God gives us as a gift. Children deserve our unconditional love. Children are not burdens, they are truly blessings. Now I have an idea as to why these two people responded the way they did and maybe you think I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but I don’t. I know this won’t be the last time I hear “you’ve got your hands full” in a negative intonation nor will I be the last mother to experience it. You’ve got your hands full, is an ugly phrase, with no good intentions towards parents. It needs to go.
I felt my anger melt away, my children were watching for my response.
My children were watching.
My children had been listening.
I want them to know that they are fully human and loved unconditionally. I also want to set a Christ-like example. Their little eyes were on me as this stranger rattled on about the burdens of having children.
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I looked that women in the eyes and held her stare. I squeezed my children against me and softly said, “My hands are full of love.” My littles giggled. The women’s face went slack and her eyes cleared of the disdain as she said, “My son is 8.” She paused as I proceeded with confidence, “Then you have been given a gift.” I gave her a pleasant smile and chased my littles out the door.
I looked back over my shoulder to see her still watching, with a new expression an awareness, a dawning of sorts. Our eyes caught one last time and we shared a knowing smile.
Mothers please hold true to your mothers heart and your God given calling as their mother. You have been blessed with the gift of motherhood, always remember that.
Have you ever experienced the, your hands are full phenomenon, what have you said?