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.
Dang. 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?
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 receipt 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. It is possibly from all that Nelly I listened to in my teens.
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 who had time to put on deodorant today 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?
You remind me of Wonder Woman because of how hot and strong you are.
I like your yoga pants.
Can I offer you a glass of wine?
Listen people, I would even settle for a fist bump.
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.
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.