"My, you have your hands full!"
I hear this a lot right now. As far as I can tell, everyone who says it does so in a friendly manner. I think they're just making conversation. But I have a confession: I hate it. I hate that statement. I'm not really sure what about it bothers me so much.
I think the biggest thing is that everyone should have their hands full. I don't mean everyone should have three (or four) kids. No...I just think everyone should have things to do. Find a career that inspires you, volunteer, bake for the neighbors, pray, contemplate, do something. I admit I wasn't very good at this before I had children. I spent too much time watching TV or playing video games or something. Now I'm a little better about filling our days with learning and serving, though we're still a work in progress. Not that we shouldn't all have time to relax and reflect on our lives, but most of our time should be spent doing something.
I also know a lot of people without kids who are much busier than I am. I have a friend in who volunteers just about every day of the week after working all day. She also keeps a regular schedule as an EMT. She is amazing, and definitely has her hands full, but she's always looking for other ways to be involved.
Secondly, my hands don't feel full. I feel like we have a comfortable life and I'm able to find time for a few extras. Sometimes I can share a meal or muffins with another family. Though someday we'll do more, Kansas Dad teaches at our parish. We have everything we need and if every once in a while we want a break, Grammy has always been willing to help us out. We have friends who may seem like they have much easier lives (perhaps because they have fewer kids), but they are really much more stressed. They feel like their hands are full, and I have no reason to doubt they are.
Maybe I feel like people are making an assumption about how much we can handle. Maybe I think they're commenting on my kids' behavior, as if they were out of control. Maybe I think they're commenting on our family's size (though four is not really so many in our neck of the woods). Maybe I think of some of the other amazing moms I know who have many more kids, or volunteer more, or both, and feel a bit inadequate.
But you want to know know what I really think it is? Right now, in these few weeks, I feel like my hands aren't full at all. Second Daughter sometimes asks to be held, but she's really just as likely to be running around. We usually take a diaper bag, but I leave it in the van. Very often now, I'm not carrying anything at all with my hands. My womb is full, but my hands are empty. And I'd much rather it were the other way around!