Too many mothers have banded together to take offense at the phrase “Looks like you have got your hands full.” Let’s start a new movement.
By Katie, Contributing Writer
Today at Target I strode up to the dressing room with a 4-week-old baby strapped to my body, a 2-year-old strapped in the cart whining, and a 4-year-old running in and out of clothing racks and seemingly not comprehending the immediacy with which I was directing her (repeatedly) to come over by me.
A sweet Target employee took extra care to help me back to my room, with all my garments (making an exception to the minimum allowed) and my kid-carrying cart in tow.
She smiled as she cleared the way for me and said, “let’s get you the big dressing room, looks like you have your ha– (faltering, awkward pause), …a full load there.”
She had begun to observe that I had my hands full, but she had stopped short. I instantly imagined what was going on in her mind.
I too had read the blog posts and seen the rally of offended online mothers against this phrase.
But my hands were full.
She then gave me an uncertain glance of apology, to which I responded with a beaming smile of reassurance, letting her know I wasn’t in any way offended by her “near slip” of this obscure statement. Nor was I going to go home to write a ranting blog post that would spread across social media and make more well-meaning strangers insecure about what they can say to young mothers.
As I drove home, the experience stayed with me. It made me sad.
I have now read multiple posts by moms who truly do take offense to this statement. I’ve read lists of tart responses I can rehearse so I’ll know exactly how to put those strangers in their place. Some articles have been harsher than others, but none of them have sat well with me.
I have more kids than hands, so “hands full” is exactly how I feel. And I do appreciate the extra help.
I say, thank you for noticing that what I’m doing here is not easy. Thank you for your smile and friendly comments. I’d like to talk to you about my children. They are my favorite things to talk about, in fact.
I say, I wish you didn’t feel you had to walk on eggshells around me, kind stranger, but the fact is, you probably do —and all because too many women have banded together around the idea that they too should be offended by this age-old and almost-always innocent, saying.
Whatever happened to the idea of not being easily offended??
That’s the one I want to rally around.
What happened to the idea of laying aside our own interests and opinions to love others?
What happened to the idea of seeing and appreciating the intentions of these strangers, no matter how their comments might first strike us? And if there’s doubt about those intentions, to give them the benefit in it, rather than assume the worst?
Or what if their tone is truly snide? Even then, should we not extend grace and offer a kind reply?
What happened to the idea of living 1 Corinthians 13?
Or to living with an eternal perspective?
I don’t do this perfectly. Please hear me on that. But this is the message I will choose to spread:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)
We’ve heard from the offended mothers. This is me standing up for the well-meaning strangers.