Today I got a compliment from a stranger. He said, You have three, beautiful children. I grabbed that little gem and held on tight. It made me beam. Just a few days ago, a woman approached us and took a seat next to me while we were out at a restaurant. She told me she had been watching us and wanted to tell me how good my children were behaving. That one little word made me want to dance around the room.
But I have to admit, in both cases, as they approached me, I started to cringe and put on my very fake smile. If you know me, you'd know it's fake. I don't show my teeth, my eyes don't crinkle with happiness, in fact, I'm sure my 'fake smile' looks more like I was just punched in the stomach.
Back to the first stranger. As he approached, I plastered on my tight-lipped smile because I was putting on my suit of armor, a way to protect my feelings. Why? Because the comment I get on a daily basis, multiple times a day is: Wow, you have your hands full!! It's amazing how words can lift you up or bring you down.
I'm sure the hundreds (I'm guessing it's much more than this and for once I'm not exaggerating because it gets said multiple times a day) of people who have stopped, no, gone out of their way to approach me and tell me you have your hands full (cringing as I type it!), didn't think twice about what these words would mean to me. They were being harmless. Just a comment they made in passing. But to me, these words are deflating. It's not a positive comment and whatever joy I was experiencing at the moment I was with my children was snatched away by one little sentence.
I wish I didn't have to hear it on a daily basis. I have a running list of things I wish I could say to these people that I keep to myself...instead, I'll say it here:
I wish you could see my three children jumping up and down in the morning, just because I walked into the room; their energy feeds my very soul. If you could only be so lucky to have your hands full in this way.
I wish you could hear three little voices laughing as they play chase; their eyes shining like stars in the night sky. If you could only be so lucky to have your hands full in this way.
I wish you could hear two toddlers learn how to say "Love You!" on the same day; more musical than any song one could ever hear. If you could only be so lucky to have your hands full in this way.
I wish you could feel what it's like to have three children listening in awe as you read Good Night Moon for the hundredth time; it's an honor to be their mother. If you could only be so lucky to have your hands full in this way.
One time, my husband saw I was reaching a breaking point. We went away for a weekend trip and after the 4th person came up to us on our 'vacation' to tell us we had our hands full, Chris' response was; Yes, but in a very good way. The stranger paused, looked a little stunned and then looked down into the eyes of my bright eyed children who were looking up at him. The stranger finally replied; Well, yes, I think you are right about that.
Yes, I do have my hands full. And I wouldn't change a thing.