“You’ve got your hands full” calls the old guy peering over the hedge he’s clipping. He doesn’t realise that the lady over the road carrying her shopping in said the same thing two minutes earlier and the postman as I left the house. My twins have started school, they look adorable in their little uniforms. We get a lot of attention as we walk to school. I smile at the old man, just as I did at the lady with the shopping, and the postman, I dutifully say “yes, yes I have” after all, he’s only being friendly, he thinks he’s being original. Some days I have to grit my teeth but usually I am thankful that I get to share in these little guys lives. It’s so much easier to be thankful these days.
Two years ago when strangers would say “you’ve got your hands full” I hated it. I used to think “you don’t know the half of it” I wanted to say “Full? Full? These two are nothing. Besides having another child at home I have a husband who regularly wakes me up by yelling at me, who keeps me awake all night- yes the husband, not the babies. Who screams and swears at these guys and makes them cry most days, who pushes me around, hurts me and complains about me, who leaves me to look after all three kids on my own while he sleeps in front of the TV or watches porn in his office, who can’t even aim straight when he has a pee.” I’m not sure how that would have gone down with strangers who were making a friendly comment about my cute kids.
I remember a couple of months before I left him sitting in the GP’s surgery asking for some anti-depressants because I just couldn’t cope anymore. The GP made a comment about how having preschool twins plus a child with autism and a husband with mental health problems must be stressful. I found myself saying “if it were just the children I’d be okay, it’s not the children making me feel like this at all, I just can’t cope with him, it’s all him” At this stage I was completely overwhelmed with what I felt were my responsibilities, caring for three children and trying to manage the emotions and behaviour of an unstable adult. Since learning that one of those people was not my responsibility life has become so much easier, my hands don’t feel full at all.
So now, when I smile at those lovely people commenting from their manicured suburban gardens about how full and busy my life must be, with no idea of what goes on in their own neighbourhood behind closed doors, I say “yes” but really I’m thinking “no my hands aren’t full, not really, not anymore”