We’ve got our hands full. Lest we forget, the old man in the grocery store will remind us. Our google calendar alerts will remind us. The constant go-go-go of our weekend will remind us. The to-do list that never gets fully crossed off but instead shifted into next week will remind us. Our children’s bickering, whining, and occasional defiance will remind us: we are white-knuckling it most days.
And it always seems our children have this sense of timing. They approach us at moments that feel SO inconvenient: I just sat down; I’m in the middle of something; I’m on the phone; I’m cooking dinner, etc. “In a minute,” I always seem to say. I get so frustrated at their timing. If they would just give me a second; if they would stop interrupting me; if they would just go play for a little while, then I could finish this task and…and, what?
I’d finish this task and then what? I’d magically have nothing else to do and could play with my kids guilt-free? No. It doesn’t matter how many tasks I complete; I’m never done. I’m never free of things to do because my hands are full.
So when my sweet J asked me to push her on the swing for the umpteenth time one afternoon, instead of retorting with frustration/aggravation or dismissing her request, I stopped mid-task. I could finish it later. The chores would be there after bedtime, or tomorrow, or even the next day. I wasn’t completing a project for work on a deadline, dinner doesn’t have to be eaten the same exact time every day, and bedtime can be stretched when I say it can because I’m their mom.
I pushed my baby on the swing. I stood in the warm sun for twenty minutes and listened to her giggles fill up the sky. We sang together. I got to stare at her–really see her. She has golden brown ringlets and wide hazel eyes. She has a gap between her front teeth. When she smiles, she looks like me. She’s staring back at me like I’m the best person in the world, all because I pushed her on the swing.
I prioritized her. I made her feel loved by telling something else, someone else, they can wait a minute. She is so small. She has no concept of time, of stress, of why her mom usually says “not right now.” One day she won’t need me like this.
I won’t ever get this back. I’ll never have her as she is in this moment ever again. My to-do list isn’t changing meanwhile she wakes up a whole new dress size, with new freckles across her cheeks, with a different understanding of the world than she did yesterday. And I get to witness it all, be a part of it all, if only I would stop and take her up on her invitation more often.
Pushing her on the swing will always be one of the most important things I’ll ever do. Looking up and actually paying attention when she yells, “Momma, look!” is going to mean something to her one day. Listening to her silly stories now will mean she can trust me with the real ones later. Picking her up every chance I get will *hopefully* soothe the blow that comes the day I realize I held her for the last time.
So yes, old man in the grocery. My hands are full and probably always will be. My heart, though? Bursting.