We have kids. A few of them. Four to be exact and we had them all right in a row. Our three sons came first within three years of one another and then our daughter is our youngest. Our oldest will begin kindergarten in a few weeks which means for the last few months I have had the opportunity to take all four of my small children out into the world with me wherever I go.
If you have young kids, or have encountered anyone with young children, or even if you’ve read my blog before, you will not be surprised to hear the comments I have received when I venture out into the big world with my small family.
You have your hands full.
Do you know what causes that to happen?
Wow. Are they all yours?
Three boys, bless your heart.
You got your girl. (This is a new one.)
And recently my favorite, Wow, you are either crazy or very unlucky.
Now, I am not saying all of these comments are said with ill will or evil intent. Sometimes my four small children hanging off the Kroger shopping cart is quite a miraculous thing to see. Not everyone is out and about with all their children and I understand that when you see us you don’t know what to say. So one of the above comes out… (hopefully not the last one.)
For the last year I have processed these phrases I hear when I am out only thinking about how the words made me feel. It wasn’t until today that this has changed.
A kind man passed us by in the parking lot and said one of the above phrases. He was kind. He was applauding all my efforts. He was not intending evil but my four year old commented, “I heard that.”
He heard it.
For all these years it has slipped my mind that my children are hearing these phrases with their functioning ears and active minds.
They can hear the comments, see the looks and interpret the phrases. This has completely changed the way I think about hearing “you’ve got your hands full” when I am out in the world with my young family.
They can hear you. My kids can hear you.
What broke my heart in that moment was the sadness in my little one’s voice, “I heard that” was said with sorrow. He wanted me to know he can hear the words too. He is standing right there.
He is not a circus act. He is a person, a person created by the Most High God and perfectly placed in our young family at just the right time and that Most High God perfectly placed just the right amount of months…and days…and years in between all four of my young kids.
My children are not accessories in the stroller or shopping cart, they are people and they can hear you.
I began to imagine what it has been like for them to hear the uncomfortable phrases for all these years. Especially when someone calls me unlucky to have them or comments something implying that my boys were just unsuccessful attempts for my prize daughter. They probably have felt hurt, mistreated and unwanted when we are out in this big, big world.
I know my husband has his hands full with me but no one would say that aloud to him when I am standing right by his side. Any person would avoid saying, “is she yours?” It’s just bad manners.
Why in our culture have we deemed it acceptable to say things about children we would never say about adults?
My kids can hear what you are saying. I want you to know. You comment is ringing in their ears.
As a mom, I fight to teach my kids that they are important and loved by the Most High God. I fight to teach them they were brought into the world for a purpose, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I fight to teach them they are precious to me because they are precious to God. Their existence is not unimportant or invisible to God.
God sees my kids hanging off the cart. God always sees them and He knows my kids by their names. God sees them as important. God knows all four of my kids so intimately that He knows the numbers of hairs on each of their heads.
So if you know they can hear you and you know God does not think of them as a handful, or a curse, or an unsuccessful attempt to have a daughter does this change how you might respond to us when you see us in the aisles of your grocery store?
Knowing they can hear you changes the way I think about “this way we have learned to talk about children” in our culture that is just bad manners.
I would like to share some encouraging comments I have received in hopes that we can redress these awkward encounters with the truth about children. I hope we can fight to redress the awkward comments to reflect how God views having lots of young kids hanging off shopping carts.
Next time try one of these instead…
Look at all your beautiful children.
The Lord has truly blessed you.
I bet those boys love their little sister.
What nice boys and girls you have, I’m sure it’s not easy for them to tag along on errands with mom.
Pslam 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
They can hear you. I hope this might help you think about how you are talking about them.