When I go out in public with my three littles I inevitably hear the phrase, "you've got your hands full!" Occasionally it will be something else like "you're brave!" or "better you than me!" And while all of those statements might have some truth to them, this is what they sound like, "your children are a burden and you're an idiot."
"You've got your hands full!"
I seriously hear this every time I go out. But rather than take offense I usually reply with things like, "there's always room for more!" or "full of love!" or "that's a good thing!" and a new one, "my heart's fuller!"
Interestingly, I only seem to hear this from baby boomers to teens, and almost always females. Other large families (usually immigrants) and elderly ladies are the ones with the refreshingly welcomed words of encouragement. I don't blame anyone for saying this. Hey, I've probably said these things myself before having kids, especially three. I know it is one of those phrases that just seems like a good thing to say.
But now that you know how it sounds to the reciever, let me offer some alternatives. How about, "wow good job mom!" Or... really anything along those lines.
Because we do have our hands full as parents of several, that much is obvious. Cheering us on for our efforts of bravery go a long way and also teach our attentively listening and always observant children that they are not just a "handful" but have a great Mommy who is trying her best.