Thursday, January 9, 2014

In Defense of Those Who Say "You've Got Your Hands Full"

I think lots of these people remember so vividly these days with young ones. After chatting with them for a moment, I usually end up hearing about how they had 4, 5 or 6 kids and how they remember it like it was yesterday. They tell me they just wish they could go back, even with all the craziness that comes with having a bunch of young ones. They want to relive those days and just hold those little babies that are now all grown and out of their homes. They tell me that their house is too quiet and they just wish they would have known how much they'd miss this.

See, I think a lot of us Moms interpret the "You've really got your hands full" as "You don't know where babies come from and you stink at Mothering". But, I don't think that's it. They aren't telling us that we don't know how these children were made, that we're horrible Mothers, that our kids are out of control or that we stink at parenting. What I believe they're wanting us to know is that they remember it all so well, that they survived and that their kids too, sometimes acted slightly crazy in the store.

I purposefully smile and search for eye contact with elderly people when I'm grocery shopping now. I want to talk to them. Their stories sometimes make my whole shopping trip. For Pete's sake, someday, I'm going to be that old lady wandering around the store, looking at the Mamas carrying babies, toddlers asking for cookies and preschoolers holding onto the carts. I'm going to wish it was me. Someday, I'm most likely going to feel like I'd give anything to shop with all of my kids again. I'm going to wish that I had a reason to stop by the bakery and I'm going to wish that I had kids in the cart that I rehearsed "please and thank you" with, as we walked up for that cookie.

I'll probably be that annoying old lady who talks about my son who had that red curly hair and hopefully the Moms that I bump into will take it the right way. Hopefully they'll know that I'm not telling them that they're doing it wrong, but that I remember.

I'll never forget a conversation I recently had in the produce section with an elderly man. He started the conversation by asking how old my kids are and telling me that he used to have 3 little ones of his own. He shared with me that way back in the day, he used to take his family hiking and that he wore their baby on his back. Come on, really? I didn't know that 30+ years ago, families were going hiking and that the Dads were baby wearing. I shared with him that our family too, loves being outside and that we feel like it's never too early to take your kids out and find adventure.

I think a big thing that we need to remember is that when we're in the store shopping, we're often just trying to get it done, but the people we bump into who try to talk about our kids with us, have no where else to be. Lots of times, they get out only a few times a week and going to the grocery store can be a big deal for them. A lot of them are lonely. Like, really lonely and a conversation with a friendly Mom and a few cute kids can really brighten their day.

I remember when I was pregnant with Judah and my Grandma called me to confess that she'd been following Moms and kids around  Bartells, because she was just so excited that her first grand baby was on his way. I imagine that sometimes, those Moms thought she was really strange, but if someone would have stopped and kindly chatted with my 82 year old Grandma, it would have made her so happy.

I'd hate to be part of a generation of women that is in such a hurry that we don't feel like we can stop to chat. Or I'd hate to respond defensively to a comment that was just meant to start conversation. These folks that ask about the kids, just share a smile or sometimes say really wacky things, have lived so much more life than I have. I believe that most of the time, they mean nothing bad. When they say my hands are full, they're just trying to acknowledge us and tell me that they too, have been there. And they're right. My hands ARE full. I'm usually a bit of a disaster, dropping my list, lugging around a baby, grabbing hands in the parking lot. I don't have it all together and I'm not cool as a cucumber.

So, here's my confession for Thursday. I love talking with old folks in the store, I just do.


  1. Oh Angela, I was very blessed with this writing. I remember when your Grandma did follow little children least with her eyes and with her heart. And how totally thrilled she was at the birth of her first grand child. I love how the young and "older" generations communicate...with a special fascination for each other. I think that, sometimes, when we older folks say you have your hands full we mean that we admire what you are doing and realize that we no longer have the stamina of our younger years! So, thanks for sharing!!

  2. I have been finding more old men stopping to chat than woman! When I was shopping yesterday I watched an old man pushing his cart a few feet them stopping to look at a magazine for about 30 seconds, then back to pushing the cart!! I imagine his wife was somewhere with a handful of groceries ready to be put in the cart! That could be us someday except that magazine will be an old outdated tablet!!

  3. I. just. love. this. What a great attitude and response to have. :)

  4. Another delightful post, Angela. Thank you for your openness, and for reminding folks that it's OK to talk to strangers. :-)


Thank you for your comments. I read every single one of them and they always make me smile.


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