Once a year the neighboring town has a huge community yard sale. I wanted to go, but alas, it was the one Saturday that my lovely husband was scheduled to work. However, today I woke up and the sky was bright, and all 3 kids were in a good mood, so off we went.
The yard sales are wildly popular, so the whole town turns into gridlock. So after weeding through traffic, we turned down a side street, found a parking spot, and unloaded. I strapped the little one to my chest, and plopped the big boys in the double umbrella stroller. Normally I would let the big boys walk, but the traffic was so thick, I felt that they would be a lot safer seated in a stroller. As I walked around the neighborhood perusing different yard sales (that were very picked over due to the fact that we weren’t early birds) people kept staring, and pointing, and gaping their mouths open a little. I wasn’t getting it, but then someone actually spoke to me. “Wow! You sure have your hands full!” I replied back happily, “Yes, full of blessings!” And it continued. Within one block three different people stopped to tell me how full my hands were. And each time, I took it as a compliment, smiled, and offered a kind word back.
I’m now quite used to navigating life with three kids that are 4 years old and under, and today everyone was well-behaved. It was easy, and I was excited to be “that” mom to these strangers. You know, the mom with a pile of small kids, who still manages to be put together and happy. Her kids are well-behaved, no one is crying, whining, fighting, spitting, or yelling “POO POO” the top of their lungs, and then giggling wildly. She remembered the sunscreen, her sweet little baby is giving everyone smiles, and she isn’t wearing clothes drenched in baby vomit. People thought I was that mom, and I was loving it. With three small kids, I rarely get to be that mom. It was awesome. For about 5 blocks. Then we came to the hill.
The path we took led us up a steep hill with no sidewalks. I was doing okay at 1st, but then the baby started to cry. I (of course) hadn’t brought a pacifier and the pre-nap meltdown was in full swing. I did a goofy bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy walk up the hill to try to calm him to sleep. “You’ve got your hands full!” I replied with a smile and a quick nod.
And then the hill got steeper. And I was feeling the full weight of the 80 or so pounds of toddler and preschooler I was pushing up the hill in the full heat 90 degree day. “You’ve got your hands full!” Bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy. A forced smile and a bright “Yep!” Bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy.
And the top of the hill was no where in sight. The baby spit up all down the front of me. I started to sweat. I forged on. Bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy. “Mommy! I gotta go potty! I gotta go NOW!” I double my speed. “Hold on buddy. We’ll be to a bathroom soon! Please try your hardest not to potty in your pants.” Bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy. Sprint.Sprint. Sprint. Bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy. Sprint. Sprint. Sprint. “You’ve got your hands full!” A half-smile and a half nod.
Yeah, I’m no longer “that” mom. I’m sweaty and hot. I’ve got a crying baby and a preschooler trying not to pee his pants. I’m so different from “that” mom, I can’t believe that I (or any one else) mistook myself for her. I’m a mess, just trying to keep up with caring for my three small boys. Then we arrive at the top of the hill.
The baby is suddenly quiet. He has succumbed to the many rounds of the bounce-bounce-jiggle-shimmy and is asleep against my chest. The big boys are chatting with each other about all the surroundings. I ask my oldest how he’s doing holding his potty in, and he replies “Oh, I’m fine mama. I’ll go potty when we eat lunch.”
I’m back to me. I’m by no means “that” mom, no matter how much I like wearing her perfectly coordinated shoes. I sometimes get to pretend to be her, but life is usually quick in snapping me back into reality. Sometimes I’m the sweaty exhausted mom, dancing her grumpy kids up a never-ending hill, but usually I’m just me. In clothes that rarely match and flip-flops carting my three awesome boys around, soaked in spit-up, making occasional emergency potty runs, breaking up fights over matchbox cars, watching my big boys delight in the big, exciting world around them, and feeling the rise and fall of my tiniest boy’s chest as he naps against me.
I don’t need to be “that” mom to know that my hands are indeed, full of blessings.