"You must have your hands full..."


#1

As a new Catholic who is simply overjoyed to be freed from secular thinking about family size and parenting, and exhilarated to be so close to the birth of my third child, I've still been a bit surprised at how often I hear this: "You must have your hands full!" People see me out with my two children, with a belly ready to pop, and when they want to be kind, that is the phrase I hear (sometimes several times a day). That is what the kind and friendly ones say, of course. The judgemental folks who have something against us "breeders" will behave atrociously, but I am learning to ignore them. But honestly, I just want to answer back, "But I only have three, including the babe not yet born! How is it that I have my hands full? And is that really a bad thing?" I am so flabbergasted to hear that when I know many, many Catholic families and Quiverfull families have so many more children than what God has currently blessed us with. :shrug:
Anyway, I have quickly learned to answer back with a comment that expresses my joy in my children, to help others see how wonderful family and children can be (it seems so many in our society haven't seen that). My stock answer now is "Yes, thank God, because it makes me happy to be busy with my crazy, happy family!"
Then, today, a woman responded to my comment in a surprising way. She said "Well, then you are the perfect mother, especially for such a family." That really took me aback. I fail everyday, I lose my temper, I get a bit lazy, I still haven't started a daily devotion with my children, and so on. But I DO enjoy my family so much. As I stood there in shock at her remark, my son suddenly needed my attention, so I rushed off to him and forgot all about her comment until later. Then, it just seemed so funny and ironic.
I wanted to share this experience here, and ask how others respond to comments like the one in the title.


#2

"You have your hands full." I take it as a compliment, and as far as I can tell, it usually is meant as one. So I usually just reply "yes they are" and return the smile that usually came with the first comment.

And as we all know from when we had one child, one child filled our hands. And each time we have another, we wonder why one less was so hard, because now our hands are even more full. Just because there are families with 12, doesn't mean that a preggers mom of two littles doesn't have her hands full. I think it's nice to let the world see that whatever it is that is causing our hands to be full, is also causing us to be joyful. Thus my preference for matter of fact, friendly agreement.


#3

This thread caught my eye as I hear this every time I go out. I have 3 children under the age of 7 and certainly don't feel like I have my hands full.:shrug: My reaction is different then yours..I always feel embarrassed. I mean, I only have THREE?? My grandma had THIRTEEN! Now, she had her hands full, lol!


#4

[quote="dailey, post:3, topic:214527"]
This thread caught my eye as I hear this every time I go out. I have 3 children under the age of 7 and certainly don't feel like I have my hands full.:shrug: My reaction is different then yours..I always feel embarrassed. I mean, I only have THREE?? My grandma had THIRTEEN! Now, she had her hands full, lol!

[/quote]

See, this is how I react internally. I think "Really? Do I act like I have my hands full? I only have two (with one to grow one)." But I try to give a gracious response, because I know that the comments are made good-naturedly, and the reality nowadays is that most families (at least in my area and demographics) are having only one or two. So maybe to others, it would seem that I have my hands full, but I still have so much time to relax and enjoy my family, that it doesn't seem overwhelming. I also still have plenty of time to spend alone with my husband. But I think the best way for me to handle such a comment is to remember that having one's hands full can mean full of blessings, not just full of responsibilities and duties. :)


#5

We have four children, ages 8, 6, 4, and 2. My wife hears the same thing all the time. Tell them your heart is even fuller.


#6

Well, I only had one. You will have three. In my estimation you have three times as much to do than me.

Yea, you have your hands full. ;)


#7

[quote="johnbaer, post:5, topic:214527"]
We have four children, ages 8, 6, 4, and 2. My wife hears the same thing all the time. Tell them your heart is even fuller.

[/quote]

What a beautiful response! This is what I was trying to say when I responded as just loving my crazy happy family, but I like how succinct and gracious your wife's response is. I think I will borrow that one!


#8

[quote="horselvr, post:6, topic:214527"]
Well, I only had one. You will have three. In my estimation you have three times as much to do than me.

Yea, you have your hands full. ;)

[/quote]

Okay, you!!! :D


#9

"Okay, you!!!" :D

If I had had the wonderful husband that so many of you have I would have had as many kids as God gave me.

Kids are absolutely the very best!


#10

When going from 2 to 3 children, a friend of mine would tell people that they were going from a man-to-man defense to a zone defense! ;)


#11

I usually smile and answer "A good kind of full" :) I haven't been able to come up with anything better that shows that its a good thing, without sounding presumptuous or something like that to me...


#12

I say it to other mothers that have more than the only I have. But my intent is to acknowledge that the signficance of a mother's job in our society is often ridiculed. People think especially being a stay at home mom is a very unfulfilling and tedious. When I've said it to other mothers, I'm usually saying it to recognize there is way more to being a mother than ones with multiples are given credit for. Usually I say it when a mom looks frazzled and I'm pointing out that I see them for the tremendous job they are doing instead of the stares they may be getting.


#13

I apologize because that is a comment I often make to moms. I have three myself but they are spread far apart in age. I do not mean it in any sort of negative way at all. I just know that I often felt that my hands were full with having only one little one at a time so I assume having more than one would really keep a mom busy. I, personally, LOVE having my hands full with enjoying the trials, stuggles and fun of my children. I just wish mine could be a little “more” full.

I would love to have had a larger family and many of my friends have families of 6, 7 and 10 children. Unfortunately between my husband’s mental health issues and the fact that pregnancy destroys my body and nearly kills both me and baby we have only three.

I will try to remember next time that my comment may be taken in the wrong manner and say something different instead.


#14

God must have known (of course He did!) that I could only handle one child, so I'm in awe of mothers of large families. I try to encourage them with a comment that does not make the size of the family seem outrageous. Mostly, I just say, "What a beautiful family!"

Betsy


#15

[quote="mrsbigdog, post:13, topic:214527"]
I apologize because that is a comment I often make to moms. I have three myself but they are spread far apart in age. I do not mean it in any sort of negative way at all. I just know that I often felt that my hands were full with having only one little one at a time so I assume having more than one would really keep a mom busy. I, personally, LOVE having my hands full with enjoying the trials, stuggles and fun of my children. I just wish mine could be a little "more" full.

I would love to have had a larger family and many of my friends have families of 6, 7 and 10 children. Unfortunately between my husband's mental health issues and the fact that pregnancy destroys my body and nearly kills both me and baby we have only three.

I will try to remember next time that my comment may be taken in the wrong manner and say something different instead.

[/quote]

That is not the point of my posts, so please don't worry about it!!! :) I made the point that the people who say such things are the kindhearted folks, but it has just been such a surprise to start hearing such remarks now that I am pregnant with baby#3. I just keep thinking about all those other parents who have their hands a LOT fuller than mine are right now, and wondering why so many people make the exact same comment every day that I go out with my children. It is almost to the point of hilarity, because I can even pinpoint the people who are about to say such a comment to me. :p
I am not offended by it, just really surprised, because although I am busy, and I do struggle sometimes, I enjoy reading Catholic moms' blogs about their VERY large families and I just think "Wow, I really have it so easy!" :)
I have probably made the very same comments to other parents before, without realizing just how often they hear the exact same comment from the last five people they just passed. It is so crazy! But I know it is all meant goodnaturedly, and that is why I started this thread, so that I could learn some really great ways to respond and to mentally process those comments, expected or unexpected, in ways that would be gracious and Christ-like.

ETA: I am sorry about the trials and dangers you have experienced during pregnancy. Now I am feeling awe at your experiences, because I only deal with hyperemesis and sciatica, not being in danger of losing one's life. It is amazing how sharing stories from our own lives can lead us to wonder at "how they do it?", which is really the underlying point being made by comments such as "You must have your hands full...". It is good to be able to sympathize and empathize with each other.


#16

Mommamaree, thanks for your response.

I found it humorous that you "only" suffer from hyperemesis and sciatica. Hyperemesis is what nearly kills me. I have very severe hyperemesis that has gotten progressively worse with each pregnancy. During the last pregnancy I did nearly die. To stay alive I was one home health care with a PICC line for over half of the pregnancy. I was unable to eat or drink anything for over two months. I was kept alive with IV fluids filled with vitamins and a drug cocktail. Even my doctor was concerned about my chance of surviving for about two weeks and I remember one day in particular when I truly believed I would die that night. Even now, three years later, I am still suffering from problems caused by my last fight with hyperemesis. My doctor has advised me that another pregnancy will very likely kill me.

Even if I could survive another pregnancy, we could not afford the cost of fighting another hyperemesis pregnancy since the last one left us financially destroyed. When I look at all of the factors, including my husband's mental health issues I know that it would be very irresponsible for me to even think of more children.

I feel so fortunate that God blessed me with three beautiful, loving daughters and enjoy them daily.

Sorry to have gotten so far off topic but the "only" and hyperemesis made me laugh. Have a great day and may you always enjoy how full your hands are!


#17

[quote="johnbaer, post:5, topic:214527"]
We have four children, ages 8, 6, 4, and 2. My wife hears the same thing all the time. Tell them your heart is even fuller.

[/quote]

This is by far THE BEST response I have ever heard to this comment. I have much experience hearing the "You must have your hands full" comment, so I am definitely going to borrow this! How absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing!


#18

People say rude things to my friend who has triplets. Once we were out and somoene asked were they all hers. She said yes. They said back, well God bless you! She said yes, he sure did! I thought that was as good a response as any.


#19

[quote="mrsbigdog, post:16, topic:214527"]
Mommamaree, thanks for your response.

I found it humorous that you "only" suffer from hyperemesis and sciatica. Hyperemesis is what nearly kills me. I have very severe hyperemesis that has gotten progressively worse with each pregnancy. During the last pregnancy I did nearly die. To stay alive I was one home health care with a PICC line for over half of the pregnancy. I was unable to eat or drink anything for over two months. I was kept alive with IV fluids filled with vitamins and a drug cocktail. Even my doctor was concerned about my chance of surviving for about two weeks and I remember one day in particular when I truly believed I would die that night. Even now, three years later, I am still suffering from problems caused by my last fight with hyperemesis. My doctor has advised me that another pregnancy will very likely kill me.

Even if I could survive another pregnancy, we could not afford the cost of fighting another hyperemesis pregnancy since the last one left us financially destroyed. When I look at all of the factors, including my husband's mental health issues I know that it would be very irresponsible for me to even think of more children.

I feel so fortunate that God blessed me with three beautiful, loving daughters and enjoy them daily.

Sorry to have gotten so far off topic but the "only" and hyperemesis made me laugh. Have a great day and may you always enjoy how full your hands are!

[/quote]

Wow, what a brave woman you must be!!! You have HYPEREMESIS, but I only have hyperemesis. :p My problems usually take the form of projectile vomiting that leaves my face red and bruised with broken capillaries for several days post-vomiting, plus nonstop everyday nausea. I make "The Exorcist" girl look like a healthy little child! :D But I can still eat, and eat I do, because eating is the only time my nausea gives me a rest. But thankfully, that time has passed once again, and with this pregnancy, POOF, NO sciatica, thank the Lord! And now only a few weeks left till this baby arrives.

You are very fortunate to have three daughters. I love the daugther that I have and I find myself hoping that I will have another baby girl this time. I love my son, too, but I really want to have another girl so my oldest child (my daughter) will have a little sister before she gets too much older and would be too old to connect deeply with a sister. Plus, I love dressing up baby girls, so sweet! My daughter is really rooting for a baby sister, too!
Who knows how many children I will be blessed with before God closes my womb? I feel like I am on a grand adventure right now, just waiting to see where the Lord will take me. And I am trying really, really hard to not feel lazy while resting my 'big-as-a-barn' body for the next few weeks before delivery. The OB says I am already beginning to dilate, and am 50% effaced, and he and my midwife both think I might go early, since I did with my first two. We shall see! Then for a while, I really will feel like I have my hands full, as I learn to take care of three instead of two. But that feeling always passes so quickly, once a new sense of normal is established.

I am so glad to hear another parent speak of enjoying their children. I do enjoy my family so much, and I don't often hear other people speaking that way about their spouse and children. My family is my "happy place".


#20

mommamaree:

Concerning sciatica----ouch!!

So glad you do not have it with this pregnancy but if you ever get a little twinge of it please only use cold compresses.

The very first time I had it I sat in a hot tub, wore a heating pad, and then applied Ben Gay.
By the time I got to the hospital they thought they would have to put me in traction and told me NEVER hot for sciatic nerve trouble ONLY cold compresses as it is an inflamation of that nerve. Heat aggraviated it further. Although, I'm sure you know this.

I actually use a frozen bag of peas now. :)


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