November 5, 2010

"Boy, do you have your hands full..."

When we go out grocery shopping or pretty much anywhere among the general public, we are almost guaranteed to hear today's title at least once as a proclamation from some thoughtless stranger.  Standing in front of four children, people often speak to me about them as though the kids are not there and feel free to label them as burdens in need of juggling.  If some stranger wants to add a little extra punch, they’ll throw in, “At least you finally got your girl.”  This one makes the boys feel just so special.  Of course there are also the twin comments that come up, but we’ll save that for another time.  Those are generally more out of curiosity and ignorance than just simple ignorance, and therefore slightly more tolerable.
When people tell me I have my hands full, I know what image these strangers with offensive comments have in mind:  they see a hausfrau with a messy ponytail that she’s too old for, dressed in her finest sweatshirt and jeans from Walmart, finagling a way to hold hands with three young children across a parking lot while her older son pushes a cart piled high with groceries back to a mini-van that we barely fit in.  They imagine noise and chaos sun-up to sun-down.  They think of me trying to find time to read books that don’t have pictures.  Or of me just trying to remember to brush my teeth.  They see mountains of laundry, an endless supply of dirty dishes, fingerprints on windows, dust bunnies lurking in neglected corners, and sleeplessness.  Tell them we homeschool too, and you’ll send them into a tizzy.
Do I have my hands full?  If by that we mean that I’m busy, sure.  But you can have your hands full without things falling out of them, managing well what you’ve been given to do.  And you can be carrying something precious with your hands full, which is the case with me.  I do not think of my children as a burden to bear.  They are a gift to me.
We have seven children, not four.  Our first two, twins Alison and Paul, went to be with the Lord after being born too prematurely and living only two hours.  Our seventh baby is with Him too, having only a short time of earthly life growing inside me.  We are thankful to have our hands full because we know the unspeakable pain of having our arms empty.  Children are a blessing, and we thank the Lord for all seven of ours.
So if you should see a family like us while you’re out and about, try saying instead what some of the kinder strangers say, “What a beautiful family you have,” or, “Your children are so well-behaved.”  And if you are a family like us, and a stranger looks you in the eye and indicates that your life is difficult, look instead at the precious faces of your children and be grateful for such abundant blessing.


  1. So beautifully put Laura!

  2. Your hands are full of blessings:) The thought of children being gifts to us has been on my heart and mind a lot lately. I have been reminded that they are not just any gift but a speific gift to you and me. So why this child for me? What does the Lord want me to learn from this relationship? I am beginning to look at each child again as a specific gift for us and I know we are still unwrapping and finding all of the layers to these gifts. It is truly amazing! Thanks Laura for the encouragement:)