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To the mom at the library today (& to anyone who’s ever told me ‘you sure have your hands full‘)

I don’t at all mind that you say this, even though some moms do. Heaven knows that I’ve said this exact phrase “You sure have your hands full” many times in my previous life to other moms. I’ve certainly meant it well, and I assume that you do too.

I know that you mean it politely, as a way of making conversation, and even a compliment of sorts – you think I’m doing something that you can’t imagine yourself being able to do. I once only had one child and looked at moms with two+ children as heros and didn’t know how they did it either. 

Yes, my hands ARE full. Three children keep me busy

But I hope that when you see me – with my hands full – trying to keep my mind on track while 2 kids ask me 2 different questions and I’m trying to figure out where the toddler ran off to, that you also see me as more than just someone with my hands full. 

Other than just “you sure have your hands full“, I hope you also see my CHILDREN:

  • three adorable humans, that I’m privileged to get to watch as they grow into who they will eventually become, each with the potential to change the world for good.
  • My 7 yr old, learning to be big, helping me out and constantly fascinating me by all the things she’s learning about.
  • My 4.5 yr old, who’s learning to express himself and speak up for himself, and right on the cusp of discovering that the world contains so much knowledge that he’s going to get to be part of so so soon.
  • My 1.5 yr old, who has such determination, and who desperately wants to be big and taken seriously instead of being trapped in his little toddler body. 

Other than just “you sure have your hands full” of busyness, I hope you also see how my hands & heart are full of LOVE:

  • All the hugs that I get from them.
  • All the kisses I get to steal while they sweetly sleep. 
  • Hearing “I love you mom” from three different sweet voices.

Other than just the physical reality of “you sure have your hands full“, I hope you also see ME:

  • A woman who still struggles with my own identity and purpose in life.
  • A woman who worries that I’ve let the last of my youth shrivel away into motherhood.
  • A woman who wonders if I still have any potential to give back to the world outside of motherhood.

When you first look at me, I know you probably see of all our differences. You sit nicely with your young child, reading a book or completing a puzzle together. You’re always right next to their side, always within eyesight and arm reach. You know everything about them. You can devote all your time to them.

Then there’s me. My preschooler’s at the computer, headphones on and yelling loudly to all the library for me to come help him play his game. I leave my toddler at the puzzle table to run over to help him. Yes, I leave my toddler briefly out of my sight. I silently trust that YOU, another mom who looks nice enough, will make sure nothing horrible happens to him — and not judge me too harshly for not helicoptering. It takes a village right? I hope so. My kids outnumber me & I have no choice but to trust others to help me out. 

I help my preschooler so he’ll stop yelling. But now I see my toddler running down the library with a crayon in his hand. I get why kids libraries have crayons for kids to color pictures and all….but ugh. Toddlers + crayons + shelves and shelves of books you’re not supposed to color in = not good. 

I rush off to grab him before he starts throwing books off shelves, hoping that I’m not garnering too many stares from all the other “good” parents who have fewer, or more spaced out, children. My 7yr old intercepts me, a tall stack of books in her arms, excitedly telling me about these books from this author that she found. I brush past her, wishing I was a better mom who didn’t have to ignore some of my children in order to grab my toddler who of course throws himself on the floor and throws his crayon which hits the table next to us. 

I’d say I’m flustered at all this, but I’m not. This is my life. I ask my computer-playing son if he wants me to pick out some books for him. I go to the library catalog, set the toddler back down, search for the space section. The toddler follows me to the shelf and I have exactly 5 seconds to grab several books before the toddler starts throwing books on the ground. 

I drop the space books off at the computer, tell my son to choose 2 of them. I find my daughter, tell her to narrow her stack down to only 10 books. I carry my toddler back over to the puzzles, hoping for maybe 5 more minutes of distraction while I sort out which books the older two are getting. 

I notice you again, still sitting there quietly with your daughter. I smile at you, ask how old she is. She’s almost the same as my youngest. “It’s a fun age“, I say. You ask how many kids I have (it’s pretty obvious that I’d just been chasing other kids around), I tell you three. “Wow“, you say – “I’m Sure You Have Your Hands Full.” 

I smile back, nod. I know you meant it well. It’s what I would’ve said too if roles were reversed. “Yeah, I do.” I say, “But it’s fun. At least sometimes“. I laugh as I pick up my toddler to go round up the other kids so we can leave. “Have a nice day!” you say. “You too!” I reply. 

But as I walk away, I can’t help but hope that maybe, just maybe, you also caught a glimpse of more than just my hands being full. 

Because even though I sure do have my hands full – my life is full of so so so much more too.

This is just a season of life and I’m riding it through. I love these children and I’m so thankful for all of them and what they each bring to my life…even if they do make life more chaotic. 


2 Comments on “You Sure Have Your Hands Full” & What I Wish You’d See Instead

  1. I love this post! I too have a just turned 6 year old daughter, a 4.5 year old son and an almost 2 year old son. It almost seems to me that people say “you sure have your hands full” or “you’ve been busy” (which p.s. sounds kinda dirty) because they don’t know what else to say. And as you said so beautifully, YES, it IS busy, sometimes painfully so, but those three tornadoes are the best gift this life has ever given me. The things they say, the love they give, the crumpled dandelions and scribbled pictures, the times they throw their arms around me unexpectedly and tell me they love me or thank you for something…those moments give me enough of a pause in appreciation and love (love so big it feels like it is not going to fit in my chest) to make up for all the moments I have to run to keep up with them. I would never trade this busy for calm, peaceful (and potentially boring) because I know that all to soon I sure will miss this season of life. And besides, we really are superheroes, this job is not for the feint of heart but it sure is WORTH IT! :)

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