Can we stop commenting on the size of people’s families already?
If you’re a mom, you’ve no doubt heard the old, “Looks like you got your hands full!” comment, or some version of it. It’s meant to be supportive, but really it’s meaningless, because no shit, moms are busy. And in many cases, the phrase can actually be pretty insensitive.
Thankfully, Courtney Lester, a Kentucky mom of three, has the perfect response to this tired phrase. In her brilliant Facebook post, she explains that she was shopping with her kids and husband at the local Walmart when a man she didn’t know approached her and commented on her “hands full” situation.
“To the stranger in Wal-Mart who said ‘I feel sorry for you, you have your hands full with all those kids,’ this is what I have to say to you,” she writes. “First off, my hands were empty as you can see in the photo (had to point that out).”
Then Lester gets real with some very personal and heartbreaking honesty we’d all be wise to listen to.
“What you can’t tell is that I lost two babies before being blessed with my last two, so if you want to feel sorry for me, there’s the only reason why you should,” she writes.
After two pregnancy losses, Lester was told by doctors that she probably wouldn’t be able to carry a baby to term. At that point, she and her husband accepted that they probably wouldn’t be able to have more children.
Happily, a few months after her anniversary, she learned she was pregnant with her now two-year-old daughter, then again with her three-month-old son. Lester is no doubt grateful, but it hasn’t been without pain and that’s what she wants people to be mindful of.
“You never know what that family has been through or continues to go through. Whether they have one child or 10, it isn’t OK to comment on the size of their family,” Lester tells Scary Mommy “Maybe they have longed for a child but can’t have one? Or maybe five of their children were adopted from foster care? You just never know what they may be going through, children included.”
She explains to us that she couldn’t gather her words in the moment, but was obviously a bit taken aback by the man’s comment. But if she could go back in time, she would’ve responded with the words in her post.
“One thing I want people to understand is that what hurt me was hearing someone say that they felt sorry for me because of my children. That is never OK to tell someone. I don’t want anyone to ever look at my children as an inconvenience or a reason to feel sorry for me.”
In her post she writes, “The truth is, I do stay busy. Some days, I can’t wait for bedtime. My children keep me on my toes and one of them always needs something, but I have never viewed them as an inconvenience or a reason for someone to ‘feel sorry’ for me.”
We all know this phrase gets mindlessly tossed around a lot to people with children. But this mom reminds us that it can be hurtful too. Lester says that she usually just laughs it off, but this time she felt compelled to speak up. She admits that parenting is hard, but it’s not cool to act like someone’s kid or kids are an inherent burden.
“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your children are an inconvenience. Don’t ever let someone feel sorry for you because of your children.”