As a mom of three young children, it’s not uncommon for people tell me, “You have your hands full!”
I’m really good at knowing when those comments are coming, too. It’s never when all my children are well-behaved in public. The comments come in the midst of meltdowns, tantrums, and unannounced wrestling matches in the grocery store aisle. The comments are typically followed by a smile and that head tilt that says, “Bless your heart.” I used to respond with that fake laugh you give to keep from crying as I calmly attempted to reign in my children.
There was a time when “You have your hands full,” or something to that effect, would make me cringe. I felt like it was a way for people to point out that I wasn’t doing a good job as a mom. Or a nice way of saying, “You’re in too deep, sister!” If I was out in public, no matter where, I could almost always count on someone saying something to me.
It’s likely that I dreaded this comment because I knew my hands were full and, chances are, had just recently cried because of that very fact.
My twin boys were 2 years and 2 days old when my daughter was born. That’s 3 kids, ages two and younger. I laugh because typing this three years later, it sounds insane. It’s true though—my hands were full then, and they still are. As my kids have gotten older (currently ages 5,5, and 3), the comments seem to come less often, although it still happens. But these comments no longer embarrass me or make me cringe and feel sad. My typical response now is of the playful “Let me tell ya about it!” nature. Over time things have gotten easier, but mostly my attitude has changed. I’m certain that no matter a child’s age or however many kids I have, my hands will be full. I’m a mom. Moms’ hands are always full, our lists are ever-growing, and the sleep we get will never be enough.
Being a mom is all I ever wanted. I prayed for each of my children and know how blessed I am to be their momma. Unfortunately, in many aspects of life, we tend to notice what others do wrong one time over what they continuously do right over and over again. Those supermarket strangers—who felt the need to remind me my hands were full—saw a mom struggling with three young children. But they failed to see the LOVE between us. They see that my hands are full, but they can’t possibly see the fullness of my heart.
The truth is, all parents raising children have our hands full, but that’s the worthwhile part. So, when you see me refereeing a game between my twin boys and explaining to my daughter why she doesn’t need another baby doll, don’t pity me. Tell me something that will bring a little normalcy to what feels like chaos, something that helps me to take a deep breath and remember these are the days I once dreamed of and always wanted.
Instead of “You have your hands full,” lend a hand or offer words of encouragement. As a twin mom, I got lots of advice when I was pregnant and for months afterward that I appreciated so much. Even saying, “You’re doing a good job; I’ve been there, too,” is so reassuring that someone sees you, values you, and appreciates you.
While it’s wishful thinking to believe that the days of comments are long gone, I do know that my reactions will be much different. Here are my recommended responses to “Your hands are full!”:
You should see my heart!
You’re right, and I love it!
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Yes, in the best way!