Even though you don't quite know the right thing to say, I'm going to believe that you want to say the right thing. You really want to tell me that I'm an excellent mother and that I'm doing a good job but you don't know how to say that exactly.
I was in the supermarket juggling two children under two years old when a gentleman came up to me and said, "My, you have a fussy baby."
Ahem—excuse me? I smiled sweetly at the man and said in jest, "Would you like to take him with you?"
He laughed and shook his head. I left the interaction feeling like I handled it well. After all, I could've popped him over the head instead. 🤷
I'm a socially forgiving person. I love to talk to people in public and often think about quick phrases I can say that are clever and kind. Occasionally I say awkward things with good intentions. So I just assumed that was the case with this gentleman.
Before I move onto how we should be forgiving to those who say ridiculous things, allow me to just air a few more that have been said to either me or friends of mine. (Because there are a lot. And they should be shared.)
"You're letting your son chew on that nasty cart?" This was to my friend who was at the store with her kiddo and had turned her back for a minute.
To my other friend who has three young boys someone said, "Third time wasn't the charm, eh?" (I mean!)
To my 18-month-old son (while I frantically tried to make it through my weekly grocery shopping trip) someone said, "Still sucking on that pacifier?"
Lastly, the common phrase that it is so unhelpful that many mamas have experienced (and that makes me want to throw my arms up when someone says it to me) is "You've got your hands full!"
Now my thought process is—we can either let these things aggravate us or we can share them with one another and laugh.
Yes, life is chaotic and we may or may not look like maniacs to people in public. We tote around small children, large carts, a thousand bags and countless snacks and drinks. We often go unshowered, without makeup and an outfit quickly thrown together (raise your hand if you've left the house in mismatched shoes.)
We have the highly-practiced ability to tune out whining children and we pretty much "power shop" in any store we are in. Look out!
On top of all of that, we are likely not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep per night and are just plain tired ALL OF THE TIME.
To the untrained eye, this can be a disconcerting sight, one that onlookers feel warrants some kind of comment. I am choosing to believe that people who are out in the world not with children see me coming with my two littles and they take pity on us. They want to say something nice, and it comes out in the form of, "Got your hands full, huh?"
Bless you, fellow shoppers. Thank you for noticing that life may be a little on the harder side these days. Even though you don't quite know the right thing to say, I'm going to believe that you want to say the right thing. You really want to tell me that I'm an excellent mother and that I'm doing a good job but you don't know how to say that exactly.
Here's what I'm going to do for you. I'm going to smile and say, "Have a great day." Then I'm going to be on my way.
There are enough people in the world who say truly nice things to balance out those who do not. I'm going to focus on the friendly guy who held the door, the elderly woman who told me my son was handsome and the clerk behind the counter that handed me a set of colorful stickers.
The more I let the thoughtless comments roll off, the more I view the world as a playground full of people to enjoy and less like an obstacle full of people I have to endure. My attitude brightens and my sons take notice.
On those rare instances when I'm in public without my children, I make an effort to hold doors, smile at kids and tell the mamas that they're doing a spectacular job.