You’ve Got Your Hands Full
Motherhood is exhausting, yet rewarding. It is the hardest thing you will ever do. It will reveal more to you about yourself than anything else you will ever do or become. There are days you want to throw in the towel, days you feel like an utter failure, and days where you feel like a super hero. Those are the days (each and every one of them) that I wanted to have so badly.
As Ethan surpassed the two year mark and started to make his rite of passage into full blown toddlerhood, I began to get comments or “looks” a lot when we were in public. You know the ones – “you’ve got your hands full,” “he’s ‘active’”, “he’s got SUCH a great vocabulary (meaning he won’t be quiet)”. All moms are well aware of these comments. (If you aren't, then I would love to meet you and your perfectly behaved child and get some tips.) Or you get the glares that burn right through you like molten hot lava. The kind of glares that within seconds make you feel like you are an utter failure as a mother and have no control over your own children. As if you aren't exhausted enough and trying to hold it all together long enough for a quick stop at the grocery store to get your bananas and milk and leave before they start begging for EVERY.SINGLE.ITEM you pass by. We are not failures and we are all in the same boat of motherhood that is sometimes rocking along on rough seas giving us sea sickness. But God entrusted us – He handpicked us – to be the mommies of these precious angels. So amidst the tantrums, public meltdowns, parenting advice from complete strangers, various backhanded compliments, and glares that give us those “Calgon take me away!” moments, we have the privilege and joy of molding these little beings into what God predestined them to become. Wow!
A couple of months ago I got the “you have your hands full today” comments from a random stranger in line behind me and Ethan at Chick-Fil-A. It was one of those days that Ethan was being a little overly excited about the meal. I mean, who can blame him – their nuggets are the best! And I’m convinced that is what Jesus will feed us every day in heaven (except Sundays of course). But the lady, who was very sweet and my elder by several years, meant no harm in her comment and was brightly smiling at him – thereby feeding his little 2-1/2 year old ego that needed not an ounce of help. All I could do was smile back and say “yes ma’am, he is a handful sometimes.” And in that moment I realized yes I do have my hands full. All the comments and glares of those same words came rushing to me and I went from feeling inadequate to grateful and praising God that my hands were finally full.
There were five long and heartbreaking years that my hands weren't full, yet wanted nothing more. I longed for the diaper changes, crying, and sleepless nights that so many were talking (some complaining) about. I even longed for the days we now have that seem are full of tantrums or non-stop strong willed moments from a toddler. I wanted a messy house. I wanted to step on legos with bare feet and fall to my knees in pain. Because all of it would mean that we had a child of our own. There was never a time that I wasn't happy for a friend or family member who had a baby. But there were many times that I did question God and why it seemed so easy for some, yet so hard for others like me. And there were many times that I would go home and cry after baby showers because I felt like that would never be me. I wanted to have the tiny onesies, bibs, and diapers. Not because I wanted those “things” but I wanted what those “things” represented – a newborn baby. There was a tremendous amount of heartache and emptiness that I felt. I would go visit friends and family who had newborns and hold them, soaking up that precious baby smell. And time after time, would leave feeling so empty handed.
I won’t write here in detail about how we came to have our hands full. But I do encourage you to read Our Adoption Journey post and the miracles surrounding Ethan and his birth. After five long years of struggles, procedures, and negative pregnancy tests Ethan was born on
August 8, 2011. I cherish every “I love you,” hug, kiss and I
cherish every mess, tantrum, and strong willed moment that renders me exhausted. I even cherish those comments and glares from
strangers when we are having a “moment.”
It means my hands are finally full.
We are all in different points of our journey. We are there for a reason. Some who are beginning and some, like me, on the other side of their journey who are there to encourage the beginners. Some who, like me, have never experienced pregnancy and some who have had failed pregnancies. There are moments filled with anxiety, sadness, and emptiness that seem to never end. And there are also moments of hope and faith of the joy of motherhood that awaits you. No matter where we have been or are, we share the same heart wrenching pain and longing to have our hands full.
I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. – 1 Samuel 1:27
Jenny is a former engineer, now stay-at-home wife and mom. She co-writes for the Our Not So Engineered Life Blog with her dear friend, Courtney. They began their blog to encourage others struggling with infertility and to share their stories about life.