Thursday, July 28, 2011

"You've Got Your Hands Full"

I'm walking through the mall with Dean in the stroller, Cole walking beside me, Emmett in the Ergo carrier, Dean's walker wedged onto the bar-shaped handle of the stroller, and the diaper bag hanging from said handle with a Mommy hook.

Admittedly, we're quite a sight. And *at least* once a day, usually more, someone says, "My, you've got YOUR hands full!" I'm sure any mom of I'm guessing 2+ kids hears this on a regular basis.

I know it's just another ridiculous thing that people say and aren't really even thinking about what it means or how it sounds. It's striking to me that the people who usually say it are other women. Women who are looking at me like I have no clue how these children got here in the first place and are wondering if I'm going to have more (no worries, we're not).

Compared with some of the other zingers, such as the ubiquitous, "Wow, you're huge!" while pregnant, or old ladies telling me that my baby needs to wear socks in August, "you've got your hands full" is fairly benign.

And yet there's just something about it that I can't quite put my finger on. I've tried modifying my responses to see how the Stranger with Infinite Wisdom reacts. One time I said, "Full of blessings!" It was cheeseball, yes, but her response was to take a minute, gather her thoughts and say, "Oh yes, they are definitely blessings."

Another time I said, "And I'm so glad!" No response. Was it the spit-up on my shirt? Did I twitch or something when she said it? Oh well.

But even a super-witty response would leave me feeling a bit off about it. I think it's because the hidden sentiment behind it has a faint hint of "you've got your hands full..." of craziness/burden/some other negative idea. I'm "not a fan," as Cole would say. And speaking of Cole, I know my children are listening to these comments because after a woman said it to us the other day, Cole said, "Mommy, why people always say your hands are full. What does your hands are full mean?"

I want them - and everyone else - to know that it means my hands ARE full. It is often crazy and messy and exhausting, but my LIFE is full (for me, at least) because of these boys. And when they're as little as mine are, my hands *are* truly full because I'm doing so much literally to feed and diaper and drive and play with them all while trying to work, be a wife, take care of myself and everything else in my life. My hands are going nonstop. Being the mom of a child with special needs, this is truer than I imagined, because there are more tasks and kinds of supervision that involve me being right there, constantly. My hands don't get a chance to rest. Again, exhausting, but I can't think of another scenario that would make me happier right now.

And then one day, they won't be little any more, and as relieved as my hands will be in some ways, I bet they will miss being busy like this. I'll walk through the mall with my bigger kids - or imagine, just myself! - and no one will comment on my hands. I might even find myself wishing they did. And maybe, perhaps, for reasons I will know *only* then, I will say to women with young ones on and around them, "My, you've got your hands full."

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