Yep. Sure do. Most of the time, my hands are quite literally full of something… Children, backpacks, groceries, lost shoes, dirty clothes, discarded toys, the makings of peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and occasionally my pillow when I collapse in a heap and sleep through the night. If I had a dollar for all the times someone has told me “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” I’d be able to hire a full time nanny and go on vacation!
I’ll blame the fact that my hands are always full for the delay in posting this particular piece. It’s Halloween today, and I’m writing about Easter, but we live one day at a time around here, and sometimes things slip through the cracks…
Before I tell you about Paris hurling soccer-ball sized plastic Easter eggs at her brothers in Target, let me give you a little background. Every year, each class at my kids’ pre-school has a big Easter party at one of the children’s homes. At the beginning of the year, there is a parent day where you bring your little one to school and then stay to meet his or her teacher, fill out forms, and then, of course, there are the sign up sheets. There are sheets to sign up for hosting the Easter party and the End of the Year party, sheets for helping with the Christmas party, the Halloween party, the Thanksgiving Feast, Valentine party, teacher gifts, alphabet snacks, and so on and so on. Because I have three kiddos in three different classes, and the boys’ parent day is obviously on the same day, I have to bring in reinforcements to stand in for me as I go back and forth between classrooms and help me be sure I sign up to help out in each of the three classes. Last year, by the time it was all said and done, I had signed up to host the Easter party at my house for Isabelle’s class and then to send food for Reagan’s class Easter party and volunteered to help with whatever the hostess might need at Riley’s class shindig, not realizing all three Easter parties were at the same time on the same day at three different houses in three different parts of our city.
I’ve made worse.
Anyway. When I signed up, Easter seemed like a very long time away, so I wasn’t stressed about it at all. However, when the week of the parties arrived, and I realized that I had literally signed myself up to fix food for an army and to physically be in three places at the same time, I found myself seriously questioning my sanity.
And then I checked the weather forecast for the week of the party.
Monday – 75 degrees. Sunshine.
Tuesday – 78 degrees, not a cloud in the sky.
Wednesday – 76 degrees – nothing but blue skies.
Thursday – 100% chance of thunderstorms.
Friday – 82 degrees, mostly sunny.
Can you guess on which day the party fell?
Yep. Thursday. 100 percent chance of rain.
I went from questioning my sanity to full blown freak out in 20 seconds flat.
So, I did what any parent in the line of duty does when it’s her turn to shoulder the responsibility of the adult version of class participation and everything seems to be going against her – I went to Target for party supplies.
They have buggies large enough to accommodate my brood. And readily accessible caffeine.
After my initial panic at the thoughts of figuring out the logistics of moving the party inside, my thoughts turned to finding something for the kids to DO indoors besides run amok in my home. I am not exactly what you’d call crafty… I use Pinterest for recipes and leave the awesome homemade wreaths and do it yourself coffee tables to those among us who are less accident prone and more coordinated than I am.
We loaded up in the buggy and headed into Target on our “Save Mommy from the Crazy House” mission. Paris generally rides in the front of the buggy where there is a seatbelt (which does little to contain her very curious and surprisingly agile little form, but that’s a subject for another day). One of the boys or Isabelle usually takes a seat in the large part of the basket and shares his real estate with the groceries as I put them in the cart, and the other two kids walk holding onto the side of the buggy. We’re always quite the spectacle, and we get stopped about every ten feet for someone to make a comment about how full my hands are or to ask some kind of question or another. People really do mean well most of the time, and it’s going to happen no matter what I do, so I’ve learned to take advantage of the opportunity to teach the kids to say hello and exchange pleasantries with new people and then to grab my groceries while they are practicing their skills.
I’m not usually an impulse shopper, and I can usually avoid the “Dollar Section” that costs those it ensnares far more than a dollar. However, in my haste to grab last minute supplies and be sure I had everything one might possibly need to prepare for 20 preschoolers and their parents to descend upon my home and begin to search for the 300 Easter eggs that were to be hidden on my property, I saw that dollar section and was drawn in like a moth to a flame. It was stocked with these huge plastic eggs and what looked like paint brushes and chalk paint.
How hard could that be? Slap some paint on some eggs and move on with life, right? Decorating those eggs with chalk paint seemed like a relatively easy craft, and they were on sale for 2/$1, so I loaded up 20-something of them in my buggy with Paris and got paintbrushes and chalk paint and proceeded to finish my shopping. Mission accomplished! No need for medical intervention. Yet…
As is the case on most shopping trips, Paris waved and said, “hello” (loudly) to every. single. person. we passed, the boys tried to ride on the bottom shelf of the buggy, and Izzi asked for bubble gum 6,457 times before we even made it out of the parking lot. We took our time finding things that start with B and putting them in the buggy, and talking about the meaning of Easter, and turning LEFT and RIGHT down aisles (all standard fare for keeping them occupied while letting me actually get groceries), and before I knew it, we were in the home stretch, headed to the check out stand after a pretty successful shopping trip. No one had melted down, I had figured out a solution to my 20-preschoolers-in-my-house problem, we had practiced our letters and sung our ABCs, and all was going well as we rounded the corner with the checkout stand in sight.
A near perfect outing with four pretty small kiddos had gone smoothly, and I smiled in solidarity at another mom who wasn’t having such a lucky time of it as her toddler bucked and screamed in the throes of a full-blown tantrum, complete with snot flying, shoes sailing off, and blood curdling wails coming from the tiny body of a tiny human who just could not understand why his mom would not let him drink the Clorox.
It really couldn’t have been going better for me until one of the eggs fell out of our buggy.
I watched in horror as the pink orb made its way over the side rail of the red buggy. I awkwardly attempted to catch the wayward egg before it hit the ground, but, as usual, my hands were full of my purse and phone and the discarded drink cup and snack that Paris had come into the store with, so my efforts to catch the egg were in vain, and I only succeeded in adding to the chaos by spilling Goldfish and Sprite on the floor.
The egg hit the ground.
As in, I’m about five nine, I had on some wedge flip-flops, and my eyes followed it to the ground and then all the way back up so that it was as if it was staring me in the face to laugh at me before heading back down to bounce again high.
My eyes darted from the egg to my children, and I made the mistake of making direct eye contact with Paris.
I saw that unmistakable gleam in her eye, and I knew then my near-perfect outing had just bit the dust along with that big pink egg.
She squealed with glee and said, “WOOK MOM! A BALL!” as she picked up the first of many more egg-bombs she would launch over the side of the buggy in lightening quick succession, leaving me helplessly flailing around, not knowing what to try to stop first: bouncing eggs or the three squealing children, who were running around the front aisle of Target, chasing the bouncing eggs.
I’d pick one egg up, and she’d throw another.
And it would bounce, too!
I’d get one kid corralled, and another would dart off in pursuit of his sibling or in an attempt to grab a “goblin egg” as they were calling them.
I stood there for a second at the epicenter of the disaster, watching the chaos unfold around me as if in slow motion, completely dazed by the sheer insanity of the moment. It took me a beat or two to gather my wits enough to get close enough to Paris to pick her up out of the buggy where she would no longer have access to ammunition. The other kids eventually responded to my desperate pleas to recapture the bouncing eggs and put them back in the basket so we could leave.
While all of this was occurring, quite a crowd had gathered around us. Most of them giggling uncontrollably at what must have been a pretty funny sight. Not one person reached down to pick up one of the eggs that were bouncing in every possible direction down the front aisle of Target. They simply stood around and enjoyed the show.
When I finally got us all situated and calmed myself down enough to check out, I did what I usually do when I find myself in these kinds of situations… I smiled sheepishly at those staring at me, and responded to the crowd of people laughing and telling me, “you have your hands FULL” with my stock line, “yes, sir/ma’am, I sure, do, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” and kept moving as quickly as I possibly could toward the check out stand.
We made it to the car without further incident, and the day of the event dawned with black and ominous skies, leaving me no choice but to move the party inside. The skies opened up and unleashed torrential downpours just as the kids started arriving for the party. We ended up with close to fifty people inside the house, and the kids had a blast searching for eggs, and eating the food, and the rain cleared up about midway through the party, so the kids were able to go outside and play, so the craft wasn’t even needed after my shopping trip that had gone so very awry.
My hands truly are almost always full. I can’t ever get to the phone before it stops ringing. I often miss it if someone rings my door bell. I’m frequently late to the party, or church service, or wherever we happen to be going if we ever get to leave the house at all, and I’ve so many times wondered what God is meaning for me to do in this time when my hands are so very full.
Sometimes doubt comes knocking and tries to steal my joy, asking me if what I’m doing matters.
Who cares if the laundry is done? It’s only going to multiply, and it will still be there tomorrow if I don’t do it today. What does it matter if I get the kids up and out of the house for Sunday School, only to spend most of the time “helping” them “learn” to be quiet and respectful in the house of God? No one will know if I skip devotion today. The kids aren’t into it, they aren’t getting it, and I’m wasting my time. Do I really need to bother with sitting down at the table to eat a meal together? It’s just forcing them to to eat and struggling with the picky eaters and cooking and cleaning and filling my hands with things that don’t matter.
And then, I remember thinking my own mama sounded like a broken record when she’d tell me over and over, “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might!”
Slaves (HA! Anyone else ever feel like a slave?!!), obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord… since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)
Without a doubt, my hands are full. All. the. time. But what are they full of? It’s really a matter of perspective.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I won’t ever make the mistake of putting a two-year-old in a buggy filled with twenty bouncy Easter eggs again.