“You have your hands full.”
How many of us hear this? As a mom of four, I get it all the time. I got it when I only had two. My first two are 21 months apart. When my second was born, my first was nowhere near walking. You bet I had my hands full. Dragging the double stroller everywhere gave you the first clue.
When my third came along, and my oldest still wasn’t walking, and my middle child was quick to run off, you guessed it – my hands were most definitely full. Wearing the baby and pushing the double stroller attracted attention anywhere we went. My youngest was born when my older three were two, four, and six. You know you are thinking about it. “You have your hands full.”
I’ve had many discussions with fellow moms on this commonly used phrase. Most of what I hear is a sense of annoyance. Why would anyone say that? How is it helpful? What are they implying?
It used to annoy me. When the comments started, in the beginning, I would nod my head. Sure, Captain Obvious. Tell me something I don’t already know. I knew I was struggling and the words validated just that.
Then something changed.
When I thought about it, it never seemed as anyone was being harmful. There have been many times in which I have said something to a random person, only to think back to it and wonder if it was worth keeping my mouth shut. At the moment, it felt cordial. So often, we want others to give us grace. Why not do the same for others?
I began engaging. In passing, during walks and squeezing through the door held open for me, I replied. As someone who finds humor in it all, I turned to responses that would give us both a chuckle. Laughter is good for the soul. I get a giggle, and it certainly feels good to make someone else laugh.
In lines, conversations started. These conversations often warm my heart. “I was once there.” I hear about other’s children and grandchildren. The little boys are fathers now. Their grandchild has red hair, too. The husband worked long hours, and the days felt like an eternity. Now their dear children are in other states, and it feels like an eternity until they see their children. They know how challenging motherhood is, and yet their words give me comfort… all thanks to having my hands full.
“You have your hands full.”
Oh, mama, yes, you do. Whether you have one or ten, you are continually trying to find balance. Taking one toddler out, alone, is one of the greatest feats there is. Balancing a newborn and toddler throws your world into chaos you never knew. You have twins. You have a therapy appointment back-to-back with doctor appointments.
Wherever you are in motherhood, your hands are most likely full. The phrase may make you cringe. I assure you it is not a reflection on how good of a mother you are. It may feel like an insult or pointless comment. Next time someone tells you your hands are full, continue the conversation. It may lead to encouragement you need to hear.
There will come a day in which I push my shopping cart behind a cart full of children. I’ll hold open a door for the mom with a handful of littles in tow. It will bring me back to these days I am living now. I’ll miss these moments of chaos. The frustration soon will fade, and I’ll see my younger self in others. I’ll smile, maybe I’ll tear up. My goodness, they were just this small. Why did I wish these days away?
I’ll think to myself, “she has her hands full.” I may not use those words, but I will sure miss the years mine were.