“Uh-oh, mommy. Why are my hands so full?”

As we exited daycare, her strawberry curls bounced through the parking lot. Tiny fingers clenched her latest masterpieces, sheets of endless scribbles and crunchy papers with thick globs of dried paint.

She pulled herself into the backseat, grabbed for the movie headphones and dipped into the stash of fruit snacks for the ride home. I popped open the snack bag, buckled her in and started the car.

“Uh-oh, mommy…”

[Did I miss a step?] “Yes, dear?”

“Uh, why are my hands so full?”

I peeked into the rear-view mirror to see her glittery blues looking bewildered, wondering how on earth she ended up with a pile of daycare artwork, headphones and a snack in her grip. With hands full, she wasn’t able to eat the snack or put on the headphones.

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She was helpless and stuck.

I coached her to hand over her pride and joy, her masterpieces, for safekeeping in the front seat until we got home. She hesitated, but soon realized this would free up a hand to do other things, like listen to her movie and eat.

I giggled at her toddler-sized predicament. On the drive home, it became so clear.

In her funny realization of how full her hands were, I saw myself. I do the exact same thing. At three, it looks like a messy stack of papers, entertainment and a sweet treat. At 30, it might be a calendar full of commitments, an over-stuffed inbox and a phone that’s checked much too often.

I take on more and more and more, without even realizing it sometimes. Then all of a sudden, it hits me. A little more and a little more, without pruning the old, adds up and suddenly becomes too much, too fast.

We realize it’s hard to do the next thing, and we wonder why and how we got to this place. And so, we must start the process of letting go.

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Sometimes we need a little coaching from someone we trust to help us sort through what we should or shouldn’t carry. What to hang onto, and what to set down. And when we set something down, maybe it’s not forever. Maybe it’s just for now, kept in a safe place to return to at a time when our hands are less full.

After all, we only have two hands. Let’s enjoy what’s in them.

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