What to Say Besides "Your Hands Are Full"

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A few weeks ago I got it into my head that it was time to attempt the grocery store with all 5 kids in tow.  After all, most of the snow on the ground had melted, everyone had been reasonably well-behaved lately, and I had promised John Paul we could make subs for dinner one night rather than spend a heck of a lot more money going to that fast food establishment.

This is what they look like when I don't get them dressed myself...
Of course, by the time I actually had everyone up from naps, diapered, dressed in clean clothing, and shod?  Well, it was 4 o'clock.  But by golly, we were GOING!

Mistake #1: Assuming the sunny sky indicated warm temperatures and that I could ditch the leggings under my dress.

This mistake was made abundantly clear in the parking lot as I wore the baby on my chest, held a twin's hand in each of mine, and had older siblings clinging to the straps of my purse.  The gusty winds of which I had been unaware made their presence known by attempting to blow up my light dress repeatedly, as I staggered to the front of the grocery store while clutching my arms to my sides and encouraging the kids to walk faster!!!

HA is right - why would anyone walk faster when instead you could carefully use the crosswalk as a pretend balance beam and attempt to trip all your siblings in the process?

Mistake #2: Attempting to buckle toddlers into the cart before being well inside the store.

The wind continued its frigid gusting as I attempted the straps on one of those massive megacarts.  Meanwhile John Paul and Cecilia were already in the store and had discovered the bane of every parent's existence: little carts.

I pushed the cart inside the automatic door, only to get rather stuck in the cart corral - I tried to buckle the twins quickly but that darned automatic door kept opening and blowing icy winds at us, eliciting more and more cries of "COLD!!!  I'm COLD!!!" from both twins.

By the time everybody was in seats and the big kids were reminded of proper "little cart" etiquette (Stay right behind Mom, do not push your cart into Mom, stay where I can see you.), we had attracted quite an audience.

Is there a BABY in there???

You know, the typical "You've got your hands full!" and "Are they all yours?" and the always hesitant "...Twins?" comments.  Even one rather funny, "Wow!  That's not something you see every day - I wish I could take a picture!"  Truly, they don't bother me anymore because really, my hands are full!

Although I've still never gotten the famous "Are your twins natural?" comment and I want someone to ask me that because I'm going to look at them with a straight face and just say, "Nope. Robots." and walk away.

Anyway, they were all very well-intentioned comments, and more than anything else I was just amused by how very many of the same comment we managed to attract in just one shopping trip!  Probably more than any other shopping trip I've ever taken with kids in tow, combined...

We made our way to the deli counter for the very, very big treat of freshly sliced meat.  And the very kind man at the counter made his share of the exact same comment every other shopper had treated us to, with the addition of "What does your husband do?"

That one is probably the only one that comes close to bothering me, because everybody always gets much kinder when they find out that he's a lawyer, and they can assume we're "rich enough" to afford all these kids (never mind the fact that being a lawyer does not guarantee a high salary - what if he were a public defender?).

He also called over another worker to come look at the spectacle we are, which I thought was REALLY funny.  And then he gave the kids all giant samples of the deli meat we were getting, so all was forgiven ;)

All things said and done, we got through our trip relatively unscathed, which was shocking to me. But I suppose it's to be expected that by the time any mom has 5 kids, she has to have gotten halfway decent at getting out of the house!

So why do you never actually see any parents with large families out in public?  I'd say that one of the number one things I hear about large families is that they don't exist anymore, because people just never see them.  Which makes sense to a point - when you have more than a few kids, it just becomes easier to save grocery outings for after the kids are in bed.  Or the older kids are in school (or *gasp* even old enough to stay home/watch some of the younger kids!), so you don't see the entire family at once. But they do exist, I promise!

We just go into hibernation in the winter...

And the fact that I never ever see other big(ish) families when we're out makes me think...  Maybe it would be a good idea to get out more often and be that witness to the world that these mythical big families do exist? And maybe if we get out, I should put forth that extra effort to make sure that faces are clean and hair is combed so we're not presenting ourselves as that slovenly, silly family where the mom can't possibly keep her kids looking presentable...

To a point - kids have minds of their own, and I did let Elizabeth leave the house in a tutu and a cupcake hat today because I pick my battles.

But if I make an effort to get out in public and be that witness more often, I promise that if you see me I don't need a pat on the back for it, because all my brood proves is that I'm rather fertile and we probably need cheese sticks. And you probably can also skip the "Gee, your hands sure are full!" comment because, while I don't mind, we've all heard it before.

I know we're under more scrutiny than most, because our life choices fall outside the norm. And I won't be offended if you stick your foot in your mouth.

But all you really need to do is smile and say, "What a beautiful family! Why don't I buy you a bottle of wine, Mom!"

And we will be best friends forever.


  1. Im a mom of 5 as well. The comments people give us keeps me laughing. I let them roll right off. When we go out people stare at us like were celebrities or a freak show. My husband and i are proud of our big family. Our kids are 12,10,7,5 and 2. Great blog thank you for sharing!!!

    1. I definitely used to get offended, but at this point I'd be miserable if I let the comments get to me! Generally I think we can all assume that everybody's intentions are the best :)

  2. I'm also a Mum of 5 (10, 7.5, 6, 4 & 18mths) and I try not to go grocery shopping with all in tow. School holidays make shopping difficult, save for an amazing friend who will happily take my crew so I can shop in peace at least once in the holidays.
    But I'm also one of 6, my youngest brother and sister being twins. When they were little my mum would get questioned if the twins were identical (ah one's a boy and one's a girl, no they're not identical!). And my parents had a few times when they were out for work functions, with people who didn't know them, when people asked if they were all theirs together, cos surely if you've six kids you must be a "blended family"!
    People ask if we are done with 5, I say "We'll see if God wants to give us any more". My husband likes to say "We're still married and I love my wife so we still have sex!" Funny thing is that at the moment during our morning prayers on the way to school all 4 older kids are praying respectively to have a brother or sister. The eldest boy even added, brother not sister to the prayers couple of days ago!

    1. It's amazing how kids are always happy to welcome more babies! They definitely soften my hard heart :)


I *love* reading your kind comments and will always try my best to reply right here in the comment box so we can keep the conversation going! If you have a blog of your own, please do link to it so I can visit back :)

CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan