“You Have Your Hands Full, Don’t You?”

I took a breath and opened the door to the bank. As I did, the boys darted around from behind me to race up the steps. I took a look around and sighed; the bank is being remodeled inside, and things are always in a different place. I located the table where I could fill out my deposit slip and started hobbling my way over; my back was out. Again. Always.

Boys, come stand near Mommy.

They made their way over to me, chattering and talking and generally making their typical level of noise. Despite the non-stop sound, they stood right next to me, occasionally peeking around the corner of the table to make faces at me in an attempt to win a Mommy-smile; it is their one goal in life. But I was tired and in pain, so I gave BigBrother that look that said, “These faces are okay, but watch it, mister.” He just smiled at me.

A voice came from behind me.

You have your hands full, don’t you?

I turned to look at this bank employee. I didn’t know this lady; she was neither young nor old — the ages that I usually forgive this type of comment.

I looked at her for a second before responding. “No, not really.

My initial reaction was anger. I freaking hate that comment. It’s just heavy with condescension. The underlying things that aren’t said in that statement — the things that I hear anyway — are as follows: “Your kids are loud.” “Your kids are misbehaving and it is a reflection of your poor parenting skills.” “Your hair is a mess, your jacket is buttoned wrong, your pants don’t fit properly and your youngest isn’t wearing gloves; you are failing at this game of parenting.”

And yes, my jacket is usually buttoned wrong; I don’t know why, it just is. Yesterday, I was rocking the messy pony tail, no make up and a huge zit. My children, at least, had on properly zipped jackets, hats and one of them was even wearing gloves. My kids are loud, they always have been loud and they always will be loud; have you met me? And despite my best efforts at parenting, sometimes my kids misbehave. I’ve accepted it; so should you.

I took a deep breath and let it go.

I shrugged it off. Logically I knew she likely didn’t mean anything negative. Just another person making a comment that simply rubs me the wrong way. I finished writing my deposit slip and reached into my purse to grab the checks I was depositing. And then I dug a little deeper.

And then, right there in the bank, I started pulling things out of my purse. Receipts. A half-eaten bag of Doritos. Another bag with a half-eaten Starbucks chocolate chip cookie. One glove; at least my youngest could have one warm hand. A coloring book. A car. A mustache. A super hero mask.


No checks. None. Not one.

Before I left the house, repeating over and over, “Put on your jackets, hats and shoes. No, don’t argue. No, don’t whine. Just do it,” and I thought to myself, “Don’t forget the checks sitting on the counter.” I probably said it in my head as many times as I said, “Don’t dawdle. Let’s keep moving.”

I forgot the checks on the counter.

By this time, my sons are fast-walking (“Not running, Mom!”) around the table in a game of slow, not-quite-chase that will end with one or both squealing. “It’s time to go, boys.” They both stopped immediately and looked at me with big, sad eyes. “But Mommy! We didn’t get lollipops!” I shuffled them both outside as they whined and complained and questioned what was going on.

“I forgot the checks at home.” I snapped LittleBrother into his seat without pinching his inner thigh, wondering to myself if he’ll ever be big enough for a booster or if I’ll be snapping him into a seat when he’s 18.

“Why did you do that?”

I paused, took that breath I sometimes have to force myself to take and put on a smile.

“Because I have my hands full, don’t I?”

A pause. I wait; I know.

“No you don’t, Mommy. There’s nothing in your hands.”

Yes, My Hands Are Full

Perhaps, looking back on the way things went down yesterday, the truth is this: My hands are full. And maybe that’s okay.


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20 Replies to ““You Have Your Hands Full, Don’t You?””

  1. I’ve never thought of that comment meaning anything other than the literal hands are full because you’ve got a lot going on. I guess you could take it negatively, personally I think of it more as a way for people to acknowledge that yea, hey, it’s not always easy (hence hands being full). That doesn’t mean they’re doubting my skills/worth, it just means they see how chaotic things are. I say “yea, but we’re ok” or “yea, and I love it” or I just laugh along with them cause like you said, your hands are full. And that’s ok.

  2. I love this story! You have a great voice and I feel like this is something we can ALL relate to. Thanks for visiting my blog! Can you tell me where you sold your cloth diapers? I want to add it to my post!

  3. I’ve gotten that comment a few times…my kids are super similar to yours….my youngest son…well….WOW. My comeback? “My hands might be full but so is my heart and I wouldn’t have it any other way” {{{Hugs}}} Sometimes I wish folks would just hush. Lol.

  4. I have a pea-coat style jacket that has lost two buttons. And I don’t have a needle and thread at home (shut up! My hands are full too! I’m BUSY UP IN THIS HOUSE!). So I’ve been wearing it around with only the top button buttoned and the belt belted.

    We have to laugh.

    Also, I LOVE Little Brother’s response. He is win.

  5. The description of things in your purse? I LOL’d hard on that. SO in that same boat! I forget stuff all of the freaking time and it drives me crazy. I know the boys distract me and I know that I have an excuse because of that, but I was always Little Miss Has-Her-Sh*t-Together before I had kids. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me.
    Oh well, right? The cute kids we have are totally worth it.

  6. Oh, this has to be one of my all-time favorite posts, in terms of the personal memory it brought back! We too had “one of those days”: “Come on boys — hurry! We have to take the dog to the vet and then we have to go to the post office and then we have to drop something off at…come *on* you two, we’re already late!”. Finally all bucked in and silent lest they further irritate their already obviously agitated mom, as we sailed down the hill toward town the youngest took an audible “working up his courage” kind of breath and very hesitantly inquired “Mom, uhm…if we’re going to take the dog to the vet…shouldn’t we have brought the dog?”

    Oh, $h(oo)t!!

    Full hands equal a full heart by any measure :-)

  7. I’m late catching up reading after the madness of the past few weeks. I have 2  “hands full” moments that I thought about after reading about your day. You are not alone!
      My husband was taking the oldest 2 to mothers morning out for me ( trust me that day I needed a mothers week out!). My daughter M walks quietly back into the house and says my daddy forgot something. I sighed, my mind racing, wondering what he needed me to find and grumplily said what? My sweet  3 year old replied “me”! A quick phone call and daddy was back to get her. He didn’t know he was taking both. Cell phones have saved me multiple  times. It’s a good thing I didn’t parent in the pre-cell phone era.

    I left to take M to an art class at church My hubby called  me ( another cell phone moment) and said he had a phone call from one of his truck-drivers and he had taken G our oldest with him back to the office to sens some money. I was so confused and thinking quickly about B,  my comment was ok but what are you doing about  B? No, he didnt realize  our newborn was  asleep at the house. He thought I had him. Whew. Thankfully we live less than a mile from his plant/office. He rushed home and B was still  sound asleep. I was in town imagining a house fire, robbery, etc. My mind went crazy. The post-partum hormones were raging. My poor hubby knew I was furious. How  could he not know he had the baby at the house? We had 3 kiddos  4 years and functioned in survival mode for quite a few years!   

     On the bright side these  kinds of stories are the stories our teens have loved to hear over the years and still do. You  may be frazzled  and your hands may be  full but I think you are creating memories.  You are a normal mother with young kids and as I tell my husband “we mothers can’t be perfect all of the time”.  Parenting teens is  just as challenging as toddlers but in a different way. I’m trying to remind myself daily  that I’m going to miss these teens years one day too soon.

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