You Have Your Hands Full | Things We Say To Mothers


full heart quote

I’m a mom of two, and I’m currently home with my kids (an infant and a toddler) full time while my husband works. Inevitably, I have to take the kids out and about to run errands.

Side note: Why are we ALWAYS out of baby wipes and coffee creamer even though we were just at the store yesterday?!

The phrase I am greeted with most often is “you have your hands full!” I hear it so often that I’m starting to wonder what people really mean when they say it. I hear it at the grocery store, I hear it at CVS, I hear it at library story time.

Is “you have your hands full” a negative comment?

I’ve heard this phrase so often that it’s started to make me think.

Do the speakers of these words think I’m not doing a good enough job as a mother? Most likely that’s my own negative thinking at work and a sign I need to work on my confidence. My kids are happy and healthy and surrounded by people who love them.

Am I being judged for the number of children I have, or for how close in age they are?

I only have two kids and they are 22 months apart. Seems reasonable to me. And if I had three, six or eight children, who’s business would that be but mine?

Do people think that my kids are out of control? 

This can’t be true. My toddler is the most polite and friendly toddler on earth. I’m not exaggerating – he thanks me for changing his diaper! He loves to help push the cart at stores, and so far we haven’t had a public tantrum (how much longer can that good luck last?).

Even the baby is well behaved on errand runs. He does most of his crying (if he’s going to do any) in the car, and spends his time in public looking around and enjoying people watching. They are both super cute too, if I say so myself.

Of course, it’s not easy taking a baby and a toddler out by myself to run errands. I am outnumbered after all, and I’m always sweaty by the time I reach the grocery store checkout line.

I guess my hands are a little full.

As I was leaving the grocery store a few weeks back (with my toddler and baby both riding in my cart, surrounded by bagged groceries), a mom with one baby entering the store looked at me and said “You’re awesome!” Without even thinking about it, my response was “We all are!”

I wish I could go back and thank that mom for saying “You’re awesome!” instead of “Your hands are full!” It was like a verbal mom-to-mom high five! We couldn’t actually high five, since you know, our hands were so full. Her comment put a smile on my face instantly and boosted my mood for the rest of the day.

I also wanted to high five her for not noticing that my toddler was wearing a pair of dirty socks on his hands as gloves, and my baby was eating the grocery receipt. 😉

I shouldn’t get a gold star for grocery shopping with two kids, even thought it would be easier to go by myself. And I’m not a better mom than the mom who is shopping with just one baby in tow.

All moms, all parents, are awesome. All of our hands, and hearts, are probably a little full.

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  1. I have wondered these same things myself. I hear this ALL.THE.TIME as a twin mom, whenever I’m out with the boys alone. I think the tone people use really determines how I feel about their comment. Sometimes I can tell they’re being judgmental (as if i had a choice about having twins!) and other times I can tell they’re impressed. In the end I’m just doing what needs to be done. No gold stars needed, like you said. Being a mom is hard enough, we all deserve a more ‘verbal high fives’ and a whole lot less negativity!
    Lauren @love2bmrsb recently posted…12 Homemade Gifts for ToddlersMy Profile

    • Thanks for commenting Lauren! 🙂 Yes, you are so right about tone! It definitely varies. I’m going to pretend everyone is impressed from now on! 😉

  2. I’ve heard people say this too and I never really understood it. I mean, maybe if you have like 10 kids your hands are full yes, but 1 or 2 kids, eh. Yeah it can be a lot of work at times but why do people feel they need to comment?
    Thanks for linking up at the Shine Blog Hop!
    Tiffany @ A Touch of Grace recently posted…The Difference in Quality of Essential OilsMy Profile

  3. I have 3 little girls and I ALWAYS hear this comment!! I usually just smile and say “Yes I do, and I am so blessed that my hands are not empty.” I love getting those looks when my 6 month old is screaming, my oldest is fighting with my middle child and I am just casually looking at clothes….It cracks me up!!
    Carole recently posted…What A Difference 3 Makes!My Profile

  4. I hear this all the time! Our first 2 kids were 14 months apart and the next one came right after the oldest turned 3. My hands were full! When people say that to me, my gut reaction was always to be offended too. Now I say, “but not as full as my heart!” It usually stops to make them think as I walk away. You’re doing an amazing job! xoxo

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