"You've got your hands full!"
It's what every new person we meet says anytime we leave our house with all three kids.
In fact, I'm willing to bet a few of you have said the same thing to a mom at one point or another. I know I have.
I saw a mom at Walmart the other day with desperately trying to keep up with the five little monkeys surrounding her cart. She had her hands full!
Then there was the mom with crying 2 year old twins who were desperately reaching for the bananas and a very "helpful" 5 year old who was dumping an arm full of oranges in the cart behind her mother's back. She had her hands full as well.
Oh and there was the mom who had a newborn strapped to her chest, and a toddler who was yelling at the top of her lungs that she would NOT sit in the buggy because it made her bottom hurt. Yep, she had her hands full, too.
In those moments, as I stood smiling at each of those precious families, I really wanted to say something. I wanted to acknowledge that what they are doing is hard. I wanted to encourage them, but saying, "My kids throw tantrums all the time too. Your kids are perfectly normal, and they aren't really bothering anybody. I bet they are super cute when they've had a nap," just didn't seem appropriate.
So instead, I smile and say, "You've got your hands full."
I don't know why it seems like the most appropriate thing to say, but it does. Sometimes it leads to a longer conversation, sometimes not. However, as I'm walking away I usually kick myself for not being able to think of something else a little more creative! I'm sure it wasn't the BEST thing to say, but it always seems to be the first thing that comes out.
I think that's how most people feel when they seem my three little ducks all in a row. Having little stair steppers (ages 3-2-1) is unusual in our culture. Couple that with the noise and moderate amount of chaos we bring with us, I know people just can't help but notice us, and they want to say something.
Maybe they are thinking...
"Look at all those kids. You really got yourself in a pickle, didn't you?!?!"
"What a precious family! Reminds me of when my kids were little."
"I know how you feel! Busy, tired, stressed. Solidarity, sister!!!"
"I really wish I had so many beautiful children. Lord, what I would do for just one..."
And yet they say, "Wow, you've got your hands full."
I know that you'll see many blog posts railing on people for making rude comments about people's family size. I get it. Some people truly have no filter!
But when it comes to the routine, "You've got your hands full," comment. I'm going to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
And rather they scrutinize their words, I'm going to look for a smile, a nod, or a suppressed laugh. Those are the things that really communicate what someone else is thinking.
And good or bad, I'm going to smile back and say, "Yes, I do, but we wouldn't have it any other way."