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You Have Your Hands Full! Heinous or Harmless?

I was conducting very important Internet research a while back on Twitter and I came across a tweet that said something like, and I paraphrase:  “If one more person tells me I have my hands full, I’m going to scream.  #momofsix.”

I nodded my head in agreement, “Oh yes,” I thought to myself.  “That really is something to scream about! #HowAnnoying.”  What? You don’t think in hashtags, too?

It’s all over the blogosphere, saying “you have your hands full” is a no-no.  It seems like these offhand statements always come from someone when I’ve been in the midst of attempting-keyword RIGHT THERE- to manage a squalling child.  Other times I’ve gotten that kind of a comment when my rarely angelic children were behaving surprisingly well.  I’ve taken offense both because, HELLO CAPTAIN OBVIOUS, yes, I DO have my hands full, thanks for noticing and because I wonder what they really mean by their statement.

Recently at the grocery store I ran into another mom that I’ve met a few times.  She was wrangling two little, fidgety girls that were a mere 14 months apart, while her older two children were using Pringles cans to wrestle.  Before I could to pull the words out of the air and stuff them back into my mouth I blurted out, “Wow! You sure have your hands full!”

I swear!  I meant nothing by it!  I didn’t mean to imply anything about her parenting skills. I didn’t mean to state the obvious.  I didn’t mean to make any sort of underhanded statement about the size of her family.  I just wanted to empathize-my children are 18 months apart, I know how hard it can be! Really! I was just making conversation.

There are some things that truly are insensitive and rude, things that you should NEVER, EVER, EVER say to a parent, including:  Are they all yours? or Do they have the same father? Seriously, you just CANNOT say those things!

But should we NEVER, EVER, EVER say, “you have your hands full?”  Is that really such a horrible thing to say?  Obviously sometimes there are total jerks out there who do want to look down their nose at you and your parenting, but I don’t think that’s always the case. While I admit that I’ve been highly annoyed when someone has said it to me, I will also admit that sometimes I’m a little (actually, VERY) overly sensitive to criticism, perceived or otherwise.  When I think back to the people who’ve said this to me, I wonder if they were just making conversation?  Was I just too prickly because of my own insecurities and frustrations as a parent that I couldn’t actually tell that they were, in their own way, trying to reach out to me in kindness?

I’m certainly not calling for everyone to start approaching strangers at the supermarket to tell them they have their hands full.  I do think that we could all stand to be a little less sensitive while looking for potential kindness in their words.

What do you think?  Is saying “You have your hands full” heinous or harmless?

(photo source)

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