If you’re a mom, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “Oh, you have your hands full!” from someone at some point in time. Sometimes, it’s meant to be supportive. But often it makes no sense and can actually be downright offensive. For Courtney Lester, a 23-year-old stay-at-home Kentucky mom of three, the “hands full” commented was directed towards her in a hurtful way that prompted her to speak out about her experience.
Lester explains that she was shopping at a local Wal-Mart last month with her kids and husband Zach when a stranger stopped her and said: “Ma’am, I sure feel sorry for you. You have your hands full with all those kids!”
In a post that has now gone viral with over 22K likes, Lester let the man have a piece of her mind. She explains that not only did she not have her hands full at all (she was baby-wearing with her other two children in the cart), but after the loss of two babies she doesn’t see her children as a burden but as a blessing.
Lester tells Babble that as a mom of three, she’s used to getting the ol’ “hands full” comment and normally she simply laughs it off, not necessarily assuming the commenter meant it in a malicious way. This time, because the man went out of his way to stop her and offer his sympathies, Lester decided she had to speak up. She notes that she had never had anyone tell her that they felt sorry for her and it really bothered her.
“I was upset because it’s NEVER OK to tell a parent you feel sorry for them because of their children/having their hands full, especially when you don’t know their situation or what they went through to have their children,” she tells Babble.
The fact that this man knew nothing about her story was what hurt Lester the most — and it serves as a good reminder why you should never comment on the size of anyone’s family. Because you truly never know the whole story. As it turns out, after going through two miscarriages and being told by doctors that she would most likely never carry another pregnancy to term, Lester and her husband had resigned themselves to the idea that they may never have any more children.
A few months after their anniversary however, she found out that she was pregnant with her daughter, now 2, and went on to have a third child, a son who is now three months old.
“We were definitely not expecting to be blessed with another child at all, much less two more,” Lester explains. “My feelings were hurt because I have never looked at my kids as a reason for someone to feel sorry for me but for someone else to look at them that way really hurt.”
In addition to feeling hurt, the man’s comments also “made her a little mad,” so Lester asked her husband — who was also upset by the stranger’s comment — to snap a picture of her with their kids (which she later shared on Facebook). While she was “too shocked to respond” to the man in the moment, she later found the words. She explains that although she’s not easily bothered by things, the fact that this man felt he had the right to stop and tell her that, with her husband right next to her no less, made her realize that other parents have probably dealt with the same thing.
Lester says that in the end, she wants people to know that it’s never OK to make comments about a family’s size and that despite the fact that parenting isn’t always a picnic, it’s no reason to throw a pity party, either.
“You never know what that family has been through,” she adds. “I want them to know that parenting is HARD, but children shouldn’t be viewed as a reason to feel sorry for someone.”