so exhausting, demanding and constant, and it takes so much creativity and endurance. But, in my experience, it is so worth it. That's why I want to be a cheerleader for the new team.
When I see a young family bravely entering a movie theater, or a mom herding her little flock through a department store, I always want to give a shout out. Since I'm wandering peacefully on my own, dodging the stroller and the run-away toddler, the mom probably doesn't realize I'm an alumni of the motherhood club. I try to give her a rallying smile and hold the elevator door open, but in this age of stranger danger I can't actually grab the kid who's running up the down escalator. It's even risky to pay much attention to the friendly baby. So I say what I hope sounds like a morale booster: "Wow, you've sure got your hands full."
Gabi (my daughter, who has her hands full) wrote a post about her crazy, kid-filled Saturday. Apparently she hears that phrase often when dealing with her (sometimes) high-octane kids in a public place. It sounds like a criticism to her. She asked her readers how they respond to "You've sure got your hands full!" and the comments confirmed that it is an offensive phrase moms don't want to hear.
The team spirit we alumni feel when we give this shout out seems to be lost in translation. What I mean to convey is, "Wow! You are awesome! I know how hard you're working and how unappreciated and frustrating your job can be. My hands look empty now, but I used to have my hands full, too. It's worth it! Hang in there! Bless you! Good luck!"
Maybe some people mean it mean. I think most of us just mean it as encouragement to moms who are enduring hideous days so their kid will have a good upbringing and end up capable of having her own hands full. Older folks have usually raised kids. We understand that they are often uncontrollable, and always unpredictable. When I see childish antics my first reaction is, "I'm glad it's not me. Been there, done that." And then I hide a chuckle, because it's funny to see how even a baby can totally control his parents.
Anyway, I want to know how to support and encourage moms and dads. There are times I'd like to pick up a toddler and help the mom to her car, or hold the baby while a mom goes into a restroom stall, or lift a little boy up to get a drink. But I'm a stranger, and I don't want to trespass into private territory. What can I say that sounds friendly or cheery? Instead of making the unwelcome observation, "You sure have your hands full!" I just want to say: