Is having 4 kids really that many?

The other day at Chick-Fil-A, a nice teenaged girl held the door open for me as my kids and I were trying to shuffle out into the parking lot. Apparently it must have looked like I had my hands full. Not sure if it was because I was holding two ice cream cones, the hand of my 3 year old and gently nudging my 5 year old with my knee to keep walking, but whatever the reason, the teen girl’s mom looked at me, eyes wide open and said,

“Are all of those yours?”

At first I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. I looked down at the ice cream cones but quickly realized she was referring to my children.

I smiled and said, “Yeah,” continuing to shoo my slower than slow 5 year old son out the door.

“Oh goodness!! You have your hands full! I could have never have had that many kids. The Lord knew I could only handle the two I have. Bless your heart. I’ll say a prayer for you tonight.”

Um, thanks?  I smiled…awkwardly.

I’ve heard similar comments before, but this one didn’t sit well with me. It wasn’t light-hearted like these types of comments usually are. Part of me hoped my kids weren’t paying attention, but I wasn’t sure exactly why.

As we were buckling up, I asked my oldest (10.5 yo) if she heard what the lady said. She said she did. I asked her what she thought.

“She made me feel bad. She made me feel like having four kids is a really bad thing.”

That was it.  She made it sound like my kids were a huge burden. Maybe she didn’t mean it that way, but man, her delivery sucks needs work. And she said it right in front of all of them.

I don’t want my kids to feel like a burden. Ever. I know I do my fair share of yelling, hiding from them, or wanting to fast forward 10 years, but the truth is….I chose to have them.

We chose to have them….all of them.

This is what we wanted.

It’s what we wanted our family to be.

I also realized life isn’t what it used to be just a few year ago…. when the kids were so young and they all had to be strapped into car seats and couldn’t tie their own shoes or blow their nose.

And it all seemed so exhausting.

It’s not so hard like that anymore. Not so physically demanding. Not like it used to be.

No, my hands aren’t what are full these days….

my heart is.


I should note that after this picture was taken, I had to pick the 3 year old up off the floor & carry him over my shoulder while dragging my other son into the car. Not so physically demanding? Ha! Well, 2 out of 4 ain’t so bad….and it’s cheaper than a gym membership. 

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15 Responses to Is having 4 kids really that many?

  1. Jacqui says:

    Wrote their meant there

  2. Jacqui says:

    I get it all the time. I have 4 (5m,4m,2f,9wk f)
    I always wanted lots of kids and I am happy with them.
    Today I took the kids to the beach and was asked several times if they are all mine.
    I also got a “trying for a soccer team”, you have your hands full x2, busy lady, geez that’s a lot. And a few look at her. Oh and super sarcastic “good luck”.

    I feel like I’m a sideshow, but only a generation ago it wasn’t so wierd.
    I don’t mind the kind ones but some people are quite rude.
    I really enjoy the older women that will stop and say what a beautiful family I have and how lucky I am. I am lucky and although their are times they are difficult I enjoy them .

  3. vicky says:

    I have 4 kids and i don think is so many i wanted 4 and god bless me whith 2 girls and 2 boys my oldest daugter is 14 yeas old my son is almost 10 years old my litle princes is 5 years old and my baby boy just turn 2 years old in january. yes people see my hands full. but my harts is full of love. and im complete and very happy to see my kids. specialy when they call me mom. or when they tell me you are the best mom. i love them with all my hart.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Yikes! I’m wondering if I’ve said these comments. If so, it certainly wasn’t to be intrusive or negative. I think, most of the time, people who comment on “having your hands full” are mostly showing empathy. They know how exhausting and demanding motherhood can be. Still, I did cringe a bit when I read that the woman asked you if you were planning to have more. Yes, I believe that’s crossing the line. She was cruel to say it, especially in front of your children. I think you handled the teachable moment very well.

  5. Pz says:

    Wow! Many of the comments posted are so graceful and kind. I have four kids and when people make the comment, “your hands are full”, my reply is, “how quick of you to notice!” The comment that gets me is…. “You’re not going to have any more are you?” Grrrrrr!

    All of our children are beautiful blessings. Their life is full of purpose and they are worthy.

  6. Cristin Bock says:

    I have 4, too, the inverse of yours (boys 10 and 8, girls 5 and 2.5). I hear this a lot. A LOT.

    My response is always the same: big Pollyanna smile + ‘Oh, thanks!! I wouldn’t change a THING!!’ I find that pretending that people aren’t intrusive and judgmental makes me less stabby. Plus, modeling positivity for the children is a thing, right?

    Love your blog and those shiny froyo-joyful faces.

  7. Bethany says:

    I am trying to decide that right now…is 4 a lot of kids? We have 3 now and (most of the time) I want a fourth. Add to the mix that my husband is a second year medical student…

    I am already getting the “hands full” comments! To which I promptly reply “full of good things” because even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment I truly believe my kids are blessings and I want them to know that too!

  8. jennifer glee says:

    You are such a gifted writer – this was amazing!

  9. Kerri Klippert says:

    For every family or person who doesn’t understand is another person or family that is awestruck by you and your beautiful kids. Know that! While we get the same thing with having 6 kids we get so many compliments too. I wish people realized that yes there may be more work, but the blessing of each child outweighs any strife.

  10. As a mother of four I would have to say four is not too much, its just right:-) I am sure people make comments like that as a compliment not a criticism. Or at least that is what I tell myself. Now, when I see 6 kids or more I might think the same things as that woman did. Only because I know what life is like with 4. As a friend of mine says after 3 it’s all the same whether it be 4, 6, or 8. I don’t know if I believe her – but then again she has 8 so she might know a thing or two.
    From A Doctor’s Wife recently posted..Put on Your Hopping ShoesMy Profile

  11. Janelle says:

    I get these types of comments too. I try to quickly respond, “Yes, I’m busy. But they are a blessing.” (even if I don’t feel like they are a blessing at that moment it helps to remind me that they truly are a wonderful, miracle from God). And when people say you are busy…… Yes, I’m busy but so is everyone else. It’s just a different type of busy for me.

  12. Deborah says:

    I have four children (they’re grown now) and though most of my friends had two children, as far as I know, no one ever made a comment or even a look. I came from a family of six. It amazes me that in this short amount of time since i had my children, if you have more than 2 kids then you’re subject to looks and nice or condescending comments. My niece has 7 children (3 by birth and 4 adopted). You can’t imagine what comments and looks she has gotten, even from family and friends. I always wanted 7 as I grew up (the walton’s generation) so you can imagine how thrilled I am for her. I’m sorry your sweet daughter felt the sting of the stranger’s insensitive words.
    Deborah recently posted..Forever GiftsMy Profile

  13. Jennifer Schrag Zaccagni says:

    We wanted six kids, so I would understand why people would be jealous of having four, but to treat them like a burden I have a hard time understanding. I can identify though…the “pity face” when people find out your child has Autism is probably in the same category of people.

  14. candice says:

    Have I mentioned that you’re awesome. We get the same thing all the time. People ask us why we had so many at one time…really people! We choice to have all of ours as well and are loving every minute of it.

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