As a mom of five children, ages 11, 8, 4, 2, and 11 months, I often receive the comment “my you have your hands full,” and although it is a true statement I cringe when I hear it.   In general I receive more than my share of non-solicited advice, ill-humored comments, and birth control pamphlets.  I must confess that their words, no matter how well-meaning they are, still makes me feel as if I am a bad mom or that I don’t have control over my children, which at times is also true, but for the most part I think I’m doing alright and that they will become contributing members to society one day.

I sometimes wonder what effects the words and looks of strangers have on my children, what the kids think when hearing the beautifully dressed and put together mother of one or the grumpy old woman say the “handful” comment with a look of disdain.   Not so much the younger three – oblivion is their friend, but the older children hear it so often that I don’t want it to become a self-fulfilling prophecy and for them to think they overwhelm me.  So one night while lying in bed after a trip to the grocery store with all five that ended with us exiting the building with a harried looking mother, a tantrum throwing toddler, a baby crying for a nap, an oblivious skipping four-year-old in tap shoes, two quarreling older siblings and the cashier sharing the dreaded observation; I decided that every time someone said “my you have your hands full” to me I would respond with, “I do but, they’re a handful of blessings.”  It hasn’t been as easy as I had anticipated to reply with my new catch phrase, mainly because every time I think about it I think it sounds completely hokey, true but hokey, and I have not been able to muster the nerve or the ability to stifle my snickers, so until then a nod and a smile will have to do.


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