Dear Stranger, Yes, my hands are full…

There I am, standing in the checkout line. One child is having a meltdown because they want a soda and the other one is doing aerial spins in the aisle. She is seconds away from taking out an elderly gentleman. He will never see it coming; she’ll take him out right at the knees. I grab her, which is kind of like capturing a demonic butterfly. I wrangle her and pin her between my legs.

The cashier tells me the total and I open up my purse. Damn. There are like 400 receipts, 5 hot wheels, 2 graham crackers, and mass amounts of tampons to dig through. I imagine the people behind me sighing. Half a chocolate chip cookie and a sock fall to the ground as I finally pull it out triumphantly. How you like me now?Β While I swipe it I think; did I transfer that money? I can’t remember…fingers crossed.


I hear the receipt printing as the three-year-old shrieks for the thousandth time, “THIRSTY! THIRSTY! THIRSTY!” I want to be like, “Listen guys don’t call the authorities, it’s high fructose corn syrup she’s after.” I take a second look at the people behind me though, and none of them look fooled. They all look like either drill sergeants or high school principals. They also look like they would rather be on a space ship to Mars than behind me in line right now.

I feel relief rushing over me as the cashier tears off the reciept and hands it to me to sign. It is only then that I hear the “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Listen Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.” It’s my eight year old. My eight year old’s voice is like white noise to me. It has something to do with the tone…I NEVER HEAR HIM.

WHAT?! I ask very sweetly, because I feel very sweet when I am red and embarrassed and sweating profusely.

“Can we get…”


“What are we doing tomorrow?”


It is then that someone says, “Wow, you sure have your hands full…” and then laughs awkwardly like this is something I have never heard before.

Listen stranger who is wearing clean pants,

I have something to tell you…

It has been exactly eight years since I have gone ANYWHERE publicly with my kids and NOT been told that. Eight years since I had my second son and suddenly my hands were “full”. This has been society’s prime (if not only) commentary on my life.

YES, I do have my hands full.

Saying this is not helpful.

I won’t clobber you if you say this and I won’t throw a moldy pb&j at you either…I won’t even be offended, but there are a lot of things that would be awesome to say, and this is not one of them. This is like saying to a person who’s balding, “Wow, no hair huh? Your scalp is shiny.”

Here are a few ideas of other things to say:

Your family is adorable. Especially that one who’s red and screaming.

I can tell you’re a good parent by the way you pinned your six year old like that…do you work out?

I like your yoga pants.

Can I offer you a glass of wine?

Listen people, I would even settle for a fist bump.Β 

Yes my hands are full, but this isn’t something unfortunate that has happened to me like a house fire or a fender bender.

I like each of my kids, in fact, I love them. They are treasures that have brought more joy to my life than I could ever possibly describe.

This life is a gift that I’m thankful for every. single. day.

Some days, just not until I’ve had a hot shower and a glass of wine.

No regrets.

I chose these kids and I chose this life.

Now if you’ll excuse me I think I’ll do my bi-annual purse cleaning.


*Now to those who are about to comment that those people had the best intentions, I know, this is all in fun ;).


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32 responses to “Dear Stranger, Yes, my hands are full…”

  1. You clean your purse biannually? Is that once in two years or twice a year?
    I have one kid, and I don’t remember when I cleaned out mine. When the purse gets too full, I throw it out and start afresh.

  2. I would totally give you a fist bump, but I can clearly see your hands are full πŸ™‚ Love this. It’s how I feel 99% of the times I take my two boys into public. It’s a gamble, really. Will they behave? Will they ask me to buy them everything we walk by? We can’t go into Sears any more because all mine want to do is jump on the beds.

  3. Bahaha I also have done that

  4. Great and entertaining post! it’s so true, how about when they have those “smart ass comebacks” to top it all off….!

  5. So good!!! I have 4 little kiddos too & that’s the comment I get all the time too! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚ Xo, Angie

  6. Kalia Sundberg Avatar
    Kalia Sundberg

    Great post, ever since the twins were born going out I get stared at. Comments like wow brave women going to the zoo with 2yrold and new born twins. “You’ve got your hands full”.
    So I’m supposed to stay home and let the toddler bounce of the sofa all day?
    I really appreciate the truth you speak in your blogs. You’ve got this πŸ‘ŠπŸΌπŸ·

  7. The other comment I get almost as much is “Wow! Are they ALL yours?” No… I actually rent a couple more kids when I run my Costco/grocery store errands πŸ˜‰ LOVE your blog! 😘

  8. Yep me too! Thank you!

  9. hahahha. Mums are the real life wonder woman.

  10. Thank you!! You too ;)!

  11. Haha. Youre full of wits. Love this post!

  12. ThingsHelenLoves Avatar

    Love this. I have four children including a set of twins and found an equal split on the hands-full comments and the oh-double-trouble comments! Now my eldest has flown the nest and twins don’t really want to be seen in public with me too much, I do kinda miss the hands full days…just a little bit!

  13. I feel ya, sister. I have three kiddos of my own, two of whom are only 7 months apart. Yes, twins would have been easier. Yes, my hands are full. Yes, I feel overwhelmed on a daily basis, ESPECIALLY since I’m no young whipper snapper at age 43 with a 9, 3, and 2.5 year old. There is a reason the good Lord makes your ovaries shrivel up and die starting at age 30, but I digress. I would GLADLY take a “you look like wonder woman because you are hot and strong”, but I settle for wine most days. We’re all doing the best we can, right?! Love your blog.

  14. I love this, brings back memories of having the kids most weekend mornings whilst my wife worked at the hospital. Entertaining, feeding and educating 3 girls from the ages, 2, 5 and 6 for 15 years. Now they have 6 kids between them. ‘Handsfull’ for a parent is the name for the character building the parent develops during the years your children start walking to thereafter….. I love they way you remind yourself you still love them – of course you do. Great stuff, your anecdotes make me smile and remind me why bringing up children is so worthwhile. Thank-you, Grandad Mark

  15. These types of posts annoy me. I too have been in your place but I didn’t take offense to comments by others. I’m almost 100 percent you aren’t the only one who struggled with little ones and I’m sure the stranger was trying to make you feel better so really why is everyone so sensitive. I mean we all have been there , done that..

  16. I agree, I don’t think anyone is being rude in the slightest. I think if you read it you’d see that I said I wasn’t offended. The post was meant to be funny. I always find it weird when people who are annoyed by posts like this take the time to read them and even more so comment on them. Why bother? My blog is certainly not for everyone and I’m totally okay with that. To each their own :).

  17. Right, but why are people so offended by other people’s responses? I can guess that the person in the store has been there, done that and was just trying to make you feel better but now a days people are so offended by everything. You yourself gave her options of what to say in place of what she did so obviously it offended you, thus your blog. Honestly your post came across a friends feed on Facebook so I read it. Sometimes I feel our society is so into themselves that they tend to think every comment is directed negatively toward them. So, this could’ve been a cute post about how crazy life is with little ones instead of turning it into a crusade against one person in a grocery store who probably empathized with you and now it’s the world against women with several children.

  18. I didn’t read your post as being annoyed by it – just remarking on a thing that many of us experience – I have 4 (7,5,3,1) and I can’t leave the house without people asking if they are all mine and telling me I have my hands full! Enjoyed the post. πŸ™‚

  19. […] WonderOak On what to say (and not to say) to a mom with full hands… […]

  20. Yes, yes, yes. If I had a dollar for ever time someone said that to me I could pay a nanny and she could be told she has her hands full!

  21. Loved this! And I love your blog, keep the humorous posts rolling. I always wonder when I’m out with my three kiddos if the common perception is that anyone in public with more than two children is the equivalent to a magical mythical creature so powerful they must be spoken to in order to ensure for the stranger that they are, in fact, real.
    Every awesome mama I know is in the “full hands club” whether they have one child or eight and they all deserve a fist bump for attempting shopping with the little ones in tow!

  22. I completely understand this post. I have 3 and my oldest is 3 then 18 months then 5 months. It’s like people don’t know I already know my hands are full but when they say that they don’t help whatever the situation might be at the time. Praise be to God for the blessing of children. Are you planning on having any more???

  23. Rebecca parsons Avatar
    Rebecca parsons

    Awesome !! I can totally relate to every single part and after reading this I feel as though it’s probably time to empty my bin of a handbag πŸ˜„

  24. Awesome !! I can totally relate to every single part and after reading this I feel as though it’s probably time to empty my bin of a handbag πŸ˜„

  25. love this blog, I get this all the time i have three and i just ‘love’ when people look and say you have your hands full please tell me that your finished. do you ever get that comment?

  26. Oh man, that is a special one. I think I’d be pissed! I have had the “are you done?” one – but that’s not as obnoxious…

  27. its certainly hard, that’s for sure. you planning on anymore? I hope to have more…I have 3 right now. well 4 if you count my miscarriage.

  28. You are my soul sister πŸ˜†. I have people tell me this on a daily basis and I have asked a few if they would like to take a few (I have 5). Parenting requires humor, and a lot of it!

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