I hear this almost daily. From strangers, coworkers, family. Shopping, at a funeral, on walks with my kids.
They are 3-and-a-half and 1-and-a-half. I do have my hands full. My kids are rambunctious, daring, emotional, curious. My daughter has no fear and my son is screaming for his independence in his words and actions.
Every time I hear it I laugh. I do. I love it and I struggle with it at the same time. I feel overwhelmed and content, and the irony does not escape me.
“You have your hands full.”
I hereby declare a new rule! Anytime you say, “You have your hands full,” to a parent, the next sentence must be, “How can I help?”
I was in the bathroom at Target not long ago and I saw a mom struggling with changing her newborn’s diaper and trying to convince her toddler to stop crawling under the bathroom stalls. She was about to lose it and was torn between physically removing him while trying to watch her baby on the changing table, all while women were weaving around her coming in and out of the bathroom stalls, washing and drying their hands.
I washed my hands and looked at her son, “Hey!” I said in my mom voice. “I LOOOOOVE your shirt. My son likes Paw Patrol, too.” This got his attention; he smiled and froze from crawling under a bathroom stall that had a woman in it that was NOT his mom.
I made eye contact with his mom and offered, “Would you like me to wait or is there anything I can do to help?” She declined quickly, almost offended but unsure.
I offered again, “I really don’t mind. I remember having a newborn and a toddler.” I smiled, trying to assure her I wasn’t a weirdo trying to kidnap her kids. Another lady, likely a grandmother, also offered, “Can I do anything?” The mom again declined, scooped up her toddler and baby and out they went, slowly, while we painfully looked on.
The other lady/grandma looked at me and said, “I am so glad you offered, I wanted to but I didn’t want to intrude.”
I smiled back and shared I’d rather have the option to say no than be struggling and no one offer.
It got me thinking. Why do the offers of help stop after the newborn phase? I miss the drop bys, offers to bring a meal or hang with the kids so I can get out of the house. Between this brutal winter and my husband working nights and weekends I would love just one hour to run some errands alone, get a fountain diet coke and collect myself.
So if you see me out and about with two littles struggle busing it up, please, please offer to help or let me know my kid is licking a window. If we’re eating and they are trying to bolt, feel free to offer to sit with us so I can inhale something quickly. Or remind me I am doing great and offer to help me to my car.
And if you are struggling, I will offer to help you, and I hope you let me.