My brood, my parade, my zoo
Never fails. When I go out, I invariably get plenty of unsolicited comments.
"You've got your hands full." "You're busy." "Wow."
I rarely go anywhere on my own. I usually have the twins, who turned 25 months yesterday, with me. And, when the girls aren't in school, I have four children - from ages 2 to 7 - with me. Sometimes I'm pushing a stroller. Sometimes I am pulling a stroller while pushing one of those car shopping carts (the ones that look like cars in the front and have the shopping cart/basket area in the rear - the girls like to sit in the car).
This morning, I packed breakfast for the five of us and we headed to Starbucks, an outing that is fun for the children. In addition to the "you've got your hands full" comments, I got a rather kind word of encouragement. The lady was surprised so many children so close in age were so well-behaved. I do pride myself in teaching my children to have polite manners (saying 'thank you' when someone does something nice or helpful for them), exhibiting considerate behavior (whether in private or in public), and learning to be responsible.
My gut reaction to "you've got your hands full," honestly is to think that everyone probably feels pretty busy, and sometimes overwhelmed. Some talk about it, some don't. Some of it is obvious, some isn't. Insofar as having one's hands full is concerned, I'm not in any unique situation. But, I have to confess, especially now with the twins in the autonomous 'terrible two's' stage, getting out the door takes longer and involves considerably more effort. My girl-twin is far ahead of her twin brother (in milestones) and insists on doing as much as she can on her own, even if she lacks some of the coordination and physical ability to do so. She wants to put on her own underpants (over her diaper; she's not fully potty trained), her own pants (though she has trouble getting the pants over her bottom - over her diaper and underpants), and her skirt (yes, she has to wear a skirt, too). She wants to walk to the car in the garage and attempt to get into her own car seat, even though she gets distracted and wants to explore the car first and even though she needs a firm nudge to get into her seat. She wants to buckle her own seat belt, even though she can only fasten the top, but not the bottom part of the 5-point harness. At any point in the process, if I give her more assistance that she wants, she throws a huge tantrum and moving forward in the getting-ready process is seriously thwarted. Long story short, going any place takes an additional 30 minutes (to an already lengthier time frame for getting four small children ready), to give the youngest ones the autonomy they are so very excited to exercise.
But, when I am exhausted from such a lengthy preparation process and from being out way too long carting numerous bags of heavy groceries and pushing and pulling children, my thoughts to the countless, unsolicited "you've got your hands full" comments that have been thrown my way quietly fester into: so what are you going to do? May I have a quarter for every time I hear that, so such comments can actually benefit us? Are you going to volunteer some time to help us?
I smile and move away. Or I say, 'it keeps me out of trouble.'
The truth of the matter is, I love all four of my children, every single one of them. Wouldn't trade them for the world. If somehow I came across a pot of gold or suddenly became independently wealthy, I wouldn't jump to pay for nannying or babysitting help. I would hire someone to mow my law, clean my house, or something else, so that I would have more energy and ability to spend time with my children! As much as it looks like I am hosting a parade or living in a zoo to the untrained or unknowing eye, I cherish every moment I have with my brood!