It’s Okay, You Can Tell Me I Have My Hands Full


It seems like many moms out there loathe the saying, “Looks like you have your hands full!”

It appears that most of the time this saying comes from strangers while moms are out and about with their little ones.

Before I became a mom for the second time, I didn’t really understand the anger felt against this sentence. After more thought, I realized I could sort of see where my fellow moms were coming from. I even know a few moms who choose to reply, “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!” That response seems a bit passive aggressive to me, though.

After having my second son, I got right on board with the “Full Hearts” moms. I began to feel ridiculous. Did I believe that saying “Looks like you have your hands full!” was a stranger’s way of taking a passive aggressive stab at me? I began thinking: ‘When do I hear this saying the most?’ I realized that I hear this at the grocery store- when I’m front-packing one child with the other in the cart. This saying is heard as I’m hip carrying both quickly across a parking lot. I also hear it when I’ve got both boys in the double stroller with the dog’s leash in my hand.

These boys keep my hands Full
See what I mean?

Wait a second… my hands are full. They are literally FULL.

I physically have no more room in either of my hands. Yeah, yeah, my heart is full too. The strangers, or kind people on the streets and in the grocery stores, though, they can only see my hands.

Instead of taking up some sort of crusade against these kind strangers, I’ve jumped ship. I am no longer offended by them, but I try to be understanding of them. You see, what I have begun to understand is that their words are just a way of starting a conversation, or reaching out. These words often fall from the mouths of men and women older than myself. Men and women who probably have teenage or adult children, perhaps even grandchildren. (Yes, sometimes it is from single men or women who literally have no idea how you are raising a child, or children, and have to worry about anyone but yourself.) All of these strangers are right.

My hands are very full. From the second I wake up in the morning, my hands don’t get a break until I fall asleep. My hands are picking laundry up off the floor. They are picking the boys up out of their beds for morning hugs. My hands are changing dirty diapers, carrying the boys down the stairs, pouring cereal, and filling sippy cups. When I go to work, my hands are typing e-mails, teaching students, cleaning up at the end of the day.  I have my hands full, and yes, it seems, my heart is also full. 

My hands are never empty since I became a mom.
There’s always a baby somewhere on me.

We, as moms, don’t stop.

Our worlds revolve around our children. It’s hard work and it’s dirty work, too. (There could never be enough warnings about how gross kids are.) It’s also really rewarding. These little humans grow up before our eyes. Each time one of our kiddos goes to sleep, they grow up a day older. This progression is so bittersweet. One day, I’m going to wake up and be a more seasoned parent. Perhaps my only way of reaching out to younger generations of parents will be to say, “You have sure got your hands full!” Who knows, the mom might come back at me or she may just smile, nod, and say, “I sure do!”

For now, I choose to smile and laugh in agreement. One day, too soon, my hands won’t be so full.


  1. Great post about this all too often heard phrase – but yet something that is usually meant harmlessly. And you’re right, for all of us with several young kiddos, are our hands are full from sun up to sundown.


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