December 18, 2015

Hands so full

The first time I heard it, I wanted to crawl out of my skin. An older man—holding open the door for me—loudly proclaimed, “You got your hands full—don’t ya?”

I looked around embarrassed, hoping that no one else heard him and thought the same. I looked down at my two hands, both clutching tightly to infant car seats. My hands were full—technically—but I felt like I had things under control. My twins were only two weeks old, and this was the first of thousands of times I would be embarrassed—well pissed off—at such comments.

Adding more children to the mix continued to up the comments. At least once a week, strangers would boldly ask questions that felt more like put-downs. Many times I would give a fake smile and walk away. Sometimes I would reply, “Yup.” But I never did say what I really wanted to. I never told these strangers that every single one of my kids was planned, or about the miscarriages I had. I never shared that their judgmental comment made me feel like they thought I was incapable and incompetent.

My husband’s death didn’t stop strangers from sharing their thoughts about me being in over my head. Many outings ended in tears because of the blatant honesty of others. Only now their comments—about my hands being full—served as a reminder of my own insecurities in my abilities to parent alone. 

As the years have passed, I have remarried and gained another daughter. People stopped telling me that my hands were full—not because I looked more put together— but because with so many kids the same age we started looking like a day care. Those comments just made me laugh, so I had forgotten about the painful comments of the past.

Last week I took all six kids out to run errands. We had a wonderful day, enjoying the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. We were about to walk out of a store when I heard it—those words from long ago. An older gentleman—holding the door for me—proclaimed, “Wow lady—you sure have your hands full.”

My blood started to boil, and I looked into his eyes. This was it—I was going to let him have it. All those years of pretending people’s comments didn’t hurt me—all those moments when I just walked away—were going to come to an end.

I said, “You know sir . . . I  . . . I—”. I looked at the six little children that trailed behind me, each of them grinning from ear to ear. For a second, time stood still. My mind flashed over the last few years. A murder trial, blending a family, writing books, speaking, being a wife again, parenting . . . my hands were full. He saw through me—and he was right. I have had a lot on my plate, and I have been in way over my head.

I said with a smile, “I do have my hands full, but I am the luckiest girl in the whole world. My hands are so full—and so is my heart.”

He looked at me with a warm glow, “We never could have kids, so it always amazes me to see all you parents with your hands full of so many blessings.”

It had never crossed my mind that anyone had told me my hands were full—of blessings. But they are! My life has been full of a lot of things—but the greatest are those six little ones that have made my hands so full. There is nothing I could have filled these hands of mine with that would have brought me so much joy.

All of us parents have our hands full. Every day is a lot of work—but in between those spilled bowls of milk and the fingerprints all over the windows are the greatest blessings we will ever receive.

Christmas is a great time to remember those in need—but we can’t let a moment go by that we forget the ones who need us most. For the ones who fill our hands—will also fill our hearts.

(photo credit Susan Thomas)


30somethingmama said...

I loved this post! I remember being in Walmart with my well behaved 4 year old and being very pregnant and someone telling me this same thing and feeling the same way. I love your perspective! Your children are beautiful little blessings! :) Merry Christmas and thank you for sharing your life and perspective with all of us!

s t said...

I remember hearing that and wondering why I would get a comment like that since my kids were very well behaved at the moment (we had just started running the errands) and all I could do was laugh because I only had about half of them with me. I like the full of blessings reply!

Francie said...

that picture is amazing!!! does she have a website?

Hanson Family said...

Every time I get that comment, i just say, "yes, and I love it!" ;)

Ruth S. said...

I love how your turned a potentially negative experience into something with insight for you and the gentleman. (I never realized before when I made a similar comment to someone that it could be offensive. Now I won't make that mistake.)

Carrie said...

It's interesting how different we all are. I take the "your hands are full" as a compliment, like "wow, look what you're doing! That's amazing!"

Jenny and Tony said...

I've always heard it that same way Carrie:)

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