While the phrase "You've got your hands full," may be innocent enough (and often true) when it comes to moms, any form of mom-shaming is completely unacceptable. After a disappointing interaction in Walmart, this mom's response to a mom-shaming stranger went viral. Kentucky mother of three, Courtney Lester, decided to address the phrasing of the stranger's comments and bring attention to how potentially painful it could be.
Lester posted a photo of herself with her three beautiful children on Facebook and broke down the situation, along with a poignant message “to the stranger in Walmart who said ‘I feel sorry for you, you have your hands full with all those kids.’” The post began comically as Lester pointed out that she had two free hands the entire time she was speaking with the stranger, but moved on to more serious topics as as she presented some of her personal struggles with motherhood love and loss. She stated:
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. My children are blessings. They aren’t perfectly modeled citizens because, well, they’re children. Sometimes they’re loud, sometimes they misbehave, and sometimes they have complete meltdowns.
In addition to these personal details, Lester also pointed out that her children were not behaving poorly in the store. According to her post, her 4-year-old was singing, her 2-year-old was just sitting there, and her 3-month-old was fast asleep in his carrier. Despite their good behavior at the time, Lester didn't gloss over the difficulties of raising little people:
If that is your definition of having your hands full, I feel sorry for YOU. 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. Even on days when they won’t listen, have meltdowns, and when it seems like nothing I do is good enough, I have never felt sorry for myself and I don’t expect others to either. If having 3 kids automatically makes my hands full, so be it. But please, never feel sorry for me because my heart is more full than my hands could ever be.
Unfortunately, interactions like one that Lester endured are not a rare occurrence. According to a recent survey by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, 61 percent of mothers reported instances of mom-shaming in their own lives. These numbers show the need for the type of awareness that Lester is raising with her post.
After sharing the photo with her sister, she decided to post it to Facebook in an attempt to share the story with other people who might benefit from it. The post went on to receive more than 20,000 likes on her personal page and another 5,500 likes after it was shared by the popular page, Love What Matters.
She told HuffPost that it was an important message. “I want people to know that it isn’t OK to make comments like that to parents because you don’t know what they have been through.” Good for you, mama.