Full Hands

My 19-month-old refuses to hold my hand while we are out in public. She adores her big brother, always wants to be around him and do everything he does. The only way I can keep her nearby is to have them hold hands, and I hold my son’s hand. He, thankfully, still loves to hold my hand in public. I hope that never changes.

As they were playing in the kid area at the local mall, I couldn’t help but gaze at them as they played, so sweetly, together. My daughter would randomly walk up to him, rub his head, and lean in for a hug and a kiss. It is obvious they adore each other, though their sweet interactions can be hard to come by sometimes. He helps her maneuver her way around the dinosaurs and flowers and rocks, they hold hands and run and fall down together, laughing. There isn’t much that makes me happier than watching them play together.

We walk to our car, hand in hand in hand. “We made a choo-choo train,” my son giggles. He’s the middle car and his sister is the engine, even though he wants to be the engine, and I am the caboose. I tell him the middle car, for our train, is the most important one- the middle car keeps us together. He looks up at me, wide eyed and smiling, he likes being the one that keeps us together. He is the big brother, after all. He’s only four, he doesn’t know yet what a big responsibility that is going to be. I know that, as they grow together, he will become even more protective of her- and his future siblings- than he is already. And, I am thankful that he is the oldest, that he keeps us together and safe. He prides himself on being a big helper, always being there when I need an extra set of hands. He settles my fears and, though he tries my patience, he is my calm in this crazy storm.

I am in a constant battle with my brain and my heart about the future of our family. Are we done with two? Are we going to try for baby #3? #4? Can we handle that? Can I handle that? But the biggest question that weighs on my heart is whether or not another baby will disrupt what these two already have. Will one of them feel left out? Do we have to have four so that each kid has someone to play with? We know our family isn’t complete, that baby #3 is imminent. But when and am I ready loom in the back of my mind. I’m sure the anticipation will be far more dramatic than when baby #3 finally comes.

Motherhood is already hard. My hands are already full. I think about how I would possibly manage three different, tiny humans that all have different needs and still stay sane. I know it is possible, but there are times I am incredibly doubtful. Like when my toddler decides to run off in a completely different direction than her brother and I have to corral them both, with a huge bag on my shoulder. Or when I am carrying a tray full of food and relying on my preschooler to follow me with his sister in tow. It is when the present moment seems too big for me that all logic flies out of my head and I am left with staggering doubt and fear about my abilities to handle it all. 

As my little choo-choo train chugs its way to the car, I see myself in the near future with a baby strapped to my chest and two big kids walking hand in hand. I don’t give myself enough credit as a mom. I don’t acknowledge how capable I am or that there is enough grace to cover the fear that hangs heavy on my shoulders. I know that having three kids is possible, that corralling them in public will not be the death of me. In my head, I will still have a 19-month-old and a four-year-old when a new baby comes into our lives; I forget that they are growing and maturing faster than I can keep up with. It won’t be as hard as I am making it to be in my head, I will have helpers, especially my oldest, to be there for me when I need them.