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these hands

    I took these photos one afternoon a few weeks ago.  It was a moment when I was truly cherishing my little ones.


    With their sweet hands that clean.


    And build.


    And craft.


    And draw.

    But I’m afraid I don’t always cherish these moments. Too often, I see it like this:


    Audrey wasting another diaper wipe.


    #3 making a mess in the living room.


    #2 using far too much tape.


    #1 leaving his papers strewn about the table. Again.

    Ugh. I hate admitting that.  Do you know what I mean, though? So often I miss the joy of their playfulness and creativity because I’m more concerned about things like wasting tape and not wanting to clean up another mess. Things that are necessary, no doubt, but not things that show my children how much I value them.

    My babies’ hands make messes. They hit. They drop their food on the floor and wipe their sticky fingers on the sofa.

    But they are everything I’ve ever hoped for.

    They are full of curiosity and unlimited talent. They share their toys. They offer to help. They draw amazing pictures and write silly stories. And they give the sweetest hugs.


    I created this little note card to put up in my office : sometimes I just need a gentle reminder to refocus my perspective. Perhaps you do as well.


    Being a mommy can be a thankless job. We may not hear much gratitude for all we do, but I know that simply by loving our families to the best of our ability, we are making a difference. And perhaps with the right attitude, this great responsibility and honor can be full of joy and grace even when it’s messy.


    Sorry that I overlooked that many people have one child! So here is a card for you.

    And a family one as well.


    118 thoughts on “these hands”

    1. WOW You are so inspiring and humble! I so know what it is to be a mom of four little ones under the age of 7 and I really needed this! You have really changed my motivation and perpective since finding your blog yesterday! I am so tempted to take your blog class.Thank you for reaching out to others and sharing your life and experiences with us! XOXO

    2. ENJOY! As a mom of 4 who have all grown up, the time REALLY does speed by…be sure to take time to HUG them, LISTEN to them, and make sure they know that you ADORE them.

    3. Thank you for this post. All too often I am caught up in the drudgery of motherhood, and I forget to savor these fleeting moments of pure, unadulterated joy and expressionism. I appreciate the visual reminder.

    4. beautiful post~ i love the idea of the printables. sometimes we need those VISIBLE reminders to help keep perspective. :)

      what *a gift* this post was to me RIGHT NOW !

    5. We women sometimes need to look at our husbands the same way. My sign should read “My husband is God’s gift” – same thing as viewing my family as a blessing. This truly is a choice, an intentional change in perspective. Transformation, one positive thought at a time in the power of God’s spirit. Thank you for the tune up.

    6. That is so sweet. Thanks for the reminder. It’s funny how I relate to the names of all four of those sweet kiddos. I have grandchildren named Audrey, Brady and Ethan! And a Macie who would have been named Mason had she been a boy!

    7. I just found this post, and I l-o–v-e it! Thank you so much for the honesty. This exact thing is probably what I struggle with the most with my children. I cannot seem to let go and live. I am always looking at the mess, or the waste, or the time, instead of the blessing. I will def. print off one of these cards! Thanks again!

    8. i just wanted to thank you for this sweet and honest post. i shared it with my mom’s group and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

    9. I laughed at your little caption saying she was wasting another diaper wipe-my daughter does the exact same thing and while she’s doing it says she’s “playing cinderella” its pretty sweet I let her waste a few too many wipes.

    10. Thank you SO much EMily – love love the note cards you created and are sharing with us!
      I have felt the same way MANY times and constantly remind myself to just let them be and then we can clean up to up together which teaches them how to clean up their messes and have fun, etc.

      What a fabulous reminder! Love it! Appreciate it so much!


    11. Thank you so much for your honesty. I have 2 little boys and I often find myself looking at their activities and how much work they’re making for me! I need to enjoy more moments and not worry about the clean up! I will be printing and sharing! Thanks!!!!!!

    12. I just love this. I have many days like this. Just this morning I was in the middle of doing something and my oldest came in to tell me something about a toy. I nodded and said, ‘um huh’ while he was telling me even while realizing I wasn’t fully listening. Thanks for the pdf. I will print it and hang it in the kitchen and by my computer because those are most often the places I forget. My family IS a blessing! Thank you.

    13. lovely reminder! thank you for this.

      children are indeed a blessing and reminder of God’s goodness to us. it’s through their eyes that He reveals so much to me.

      love your blog. thanks for pointing us to “all things beautiful.”

      p.s. I’m a Brenham friend of Holly’s:).

    14. Thanks for reminding us, how to cherish these memorable moments instead of cribbing..
      Your thoughts truly inspires… take care and keep posting…

    15. i’m printing these off and giving one to each of my girlfriends/mom’s group friends tonight! It’s the perfect little reminder while we sip on our wine and agonize over Monday coming so soon (carpooling, tying shoes, telling our sons to SIT DOWN or DONT JUMP ON THE FURNITURE, wiping yet another track of snots running down that upper lip, …) We ARE blessed.

    16. love the toes, too! beautifully said. mine are almost out of the house, off to college, and things like this make me want to cry for times so quickly passed.

    17. YAY! Thanks for the update! I was coming back on here to print the original version (even though I only have one little guy) because I love it so much….now I can do the “child” one! THANKS!! Love it and love the post!

    18. Thank you so much for sharing this! It has been an especially difficult week for this stay-at-home momma…too often I only see the extra messes, the interruptions to my schedule and allow myself to forget how very blessed I am. As you said, they are everything I’ve ever hoped for!!! I really needed to hear this…thanks again :)

    19. Such a sweet post. Thanks for the fresh prespective. It was a sweet addition to your incredible blog. Thanks for all your post. I love them.

    20. Oh Emily, you are not the only one who has ever felt like that! I’ve been guilty of the same thing. It’s okay because we eventually come to our senses, right? Thank you for the downloads:)

    21. I’m just commenting again because I’m glad I noticed the two updated ones for one child and family. Thank you so much for doing that for us!! I am going to make a bunch of cute little gifts for friends with these to lift their spirits as you lifted mine. I got through today with a different attitude and my baby actually snuggled and fell asleep tonight on me and I loved every second of his hot, sweaty little head wedged under my neck LOL <3

    22. Thanks for this wonderful post and reminder. I love your blog, and I love your creativity. There are many beautiful blogs out there–some beautiful copycats and some beautiful originals. Yours is definitely one of those originals that inspire others!

    23. Darling and honest post. Everyone has been there and I need just this reminder today! Thank you.

      P.S. I know this was a post about hands but your little girl’s feet are so cute. All of my babies had darling little chubbers too! This picture takes me back!

    24. Thanks for being brave enough what we all go through. I love your blog for so many reasons, one of them being that you are a mom who likes being a mom. Your creativity astounds me too. Thanks and God bless.

    25. i seriously couldn’t help but to tear up after reading this! today was just one of those days with my children! thank you so much for this post and sharing your talent with the rest of us!

    26. I cannot tell you how timely this is for me. We just brought our third daughter home from the hospital, and with my other two being 5 and 3, our house has been pure chaos. This reminded me to really stop and smell the roses, praise God for my blessings, and not worry so much that EVERY board game was dumped out on the living room floor. Thank you, Emily!

    27. thank you so much for the beautiful reminder! after hosting a playgroup consisting of 14 toddlers this morning, I definitely felt the ladder of your reminder (thought, most of them werent my kids! ha!). I was going to cook tonight, but I think we are going to order in and just enjoying each other, snotty noses, sticky fingers, and all! AND, I ‘ve already printed a few cards to share with the other moms at the playgroup (we’re having a babyshower sunday for one of them).

      Love your little notes!!!!!

    28. This is an especially relevant post this week, since my neighbor lost her baby girl to SIDS. She would give anything to have her back making messes again. We never know how long God will gift us with them, and they are, indeed, blessings.

      God bless you and yours.

    29. Thank you for this – it was desperately needed today {as I’m attempting to potty train my 2 year old}. Again, thank you.

    30. I REALLY needed to hear that as I’ve been dealing a sick infant and a jealous older brother lately and it’s been hard. I have been fairly hard on my oldest one due to lack of sleep and patience. I often think those things too-wasting paper, water, soap, etc, when I need to remember that’s how he LEARNS! And lately all he’s been learning from me is impatience and the need to be perfect. Thanks for sharing the pictures and your thoughts from both perspectives! It was refreshing and helped me refocus as well. Thanks for the little note…I do plan on passing that to friends as a reminder for them as well!

    31. I have one child. Is it possible to post one that says “My child is a blessing?” I love it! What a simple reminder of the most important thing in my life! :)

    32. Thank you. I have 4 littles under 5 and was struggling today. Came downstairs to check my reader and your post was there. I know it…but the reminder was so good. I am thankful that God has entrusted them to me – sometimes it’s easy to forget in the midst of the everyday. Thank you.

    33. We go through tape in less then two weeks! My husband and I decided to just buy a box of tape for our six year old. I never seen a six year old be sooo excited about tape! Made me smile!

    34. Such a beautiful post. I have always loved hands…my mother’s hands, my sweetheart’s hands, my children, and my grandson. They tell a story of who we are and where we have come from….so very precious…Thank you!

    35. This was just perfect for today. An hour into our day and my little one was already whining and wearing me out. Then I saw this and it made it all better <3 I did cry, like a baby :) My hubby is used to it LOL Thank you so much. I usually try to look at things he does positively, but some days I need a little grace. I would also love one that said My Family is a Blessing as we only have one child still. I'm going to go snuggle with my son now <3

    36. I’m right on that line of thought lately too. The way you put it to pictures is perfect. Perspective is powerful. Pregnant with #3 & caring for 1 & 2 all day long has got me saying “no. not now.” or “no. i’ve got to finish this or that” or “no. i’m tired” way more than I like. You know what I mean? Sounds like you do. Great note card. Thanks for sharing. I just created a similar one with 1 Peter 4:8 “above all, love each other deeply…” & framed it in the play room for us all to remember.

    37. so, so, so true. Yesterday as I was completely stressed out at the mommy this, mommy that, neverending stream of mommy do’s, i reminded myself that i signed up for this…not them. i need to be better! so glad you posted this, because it is the truth.

    38. What a wonderful reminder. I never understood why so many parent’s complain about what their children do. I am blessed with a husband who sees all through loving eyes so it makes it so much easier for me.
      I’d love to see one that says my family is a Blessing for people with only one child or are dealing with family issues that sometimes make you forget even though they are not perfect they are your family.
      I am printing this out and sharing it with a few mom’s who forget that their children are God’s wonders. Thank you so much.

    39. You nailed it…I absolutely love your post-it reached into my heart, and grabbed hold quickly; just like my daughter did even before she was born. Your post summed up the experience of not just my experiences as a mother, but I’m sure countless others. It’s far too easy to focus on what we tend to see on the surface, and most of the time it takes effort to look deeper at what’s really going on. I’m still struggling with that; but the moments that I recognize my baby’s actions for what they really are-it’s an overwhelmingly beautiful feeling…That no one but a parent could understand. You have to know Emily-the more personal you are in your posts, as you were in this one; the more I identify with exactly what you’re going through! It’s a bold thing to post such intimate feelings and experiences; but all the best things out there in the world, whether it’s a play, a book, a song, a piece of art; the best ones have the deepest parts of the creator in it. My point is: thank you. You make me realize that maybe I’m not doing everything wrong after all, and that there’s so much beauty in the everyday, if we’re looking hard enough :)

    40. I couldn’t get over your daughter’s feet in the first photo. They’re sooo pudgy, I just want to nibble on them! Having children past this stage now makes me appreciate this wisdom even more. I tear up realizing that I can NEVER get those days back. Life is still very good, but they will never again surround you the way they do now. They will leave and care about their friends more. Love them while you can! You will never regret it.

    41. Thanks for this sweet post, it made me cry. What a beautiful reminder that our children are all we’ve hoped for. Thank you.

    42. Very well said. I too feel that way about my children when they do things like this (they are a bit older though). I love how you captioned the pictures and I will be printing that out to hang where I see it often.
      Thank you.

    43. I totally know what you mean. I catch myself doing this more than I’d like to admit. Yesterday, my grandma was holding my two-year-old’s hand {he’s also named Mason!}, she remarked how little his hand is. Thank you {and grandma} for the reminder of how precious this time is!

    44. It is so easy to slip into caring more about keeping the home than the sweet ones I’m keeping the home for. These are dear moments – thank you for sharing them.

    45. You are so right. We all need to be reminded to see our kids as wonderful beings instead of messy work-making monsters sometimes. And just so you don’t feel bad my daughter used to be able to go through a whole package of wipes in about 15 minutes:)

    46. Just be so thankful that you realize now how important these moments are. Better now than 10 or 15 years from now. Blessings to you and your beautiful children. Enjoy them. They are gone too soon.

    47. Thank you for this beautiful post!!! It’s just what I needed after a very challenging “Mommy” week! I’m going print and hang the sweet note cards to remind myself of how very blessed I am to have these three amazing (and spirited) sons!

    48. Oh how I needed this post today. It brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for bringing back some perspective. I love the photo’s. This would make an excellent scrapbook page, I think I may just have to copy you :)

    49. What a beautiful (and beautifully honest) post! This is probably one of my greatest fears about having children and being a mom. But I know that the Holy Spirit is much more powerful than my flesh and my habits. So there’s really nothing to fear. When the time comes, I’ll learn to take one day at a time in this area, like everything else. Also, I’m currently reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. Definitely goes along with this theme! God bless you today!

    50. Now you’re going to make me cry!! So true, thanks for putting it so eloquently. My little one’s hands have been pulling my hair and pinching my face lately – and it hurts – but gosh, she is just too cute to be mad at:)

    51. So true…I often look at the hands of my dear little ones in wonder! I think of all the things those hands will help my children do throughout their lifetime. Truly, I marvel at those thoughts and feel blessed yet all too often I lose that perspective and grow annoyed by the work they create for me. Thanks for helping me see the blessing today!

    52. always a good reminder…i blogged about this this week too. getting over my to-do list and enjoying my little ones while they are still home. thanks for another reminder!

    53. Emily, I certainly remember feeling that same way when my children were young. So overwhelmed and exhausted some days. At this very moment it feels as though it has all come full circle. My children are almost 21 and 17, and the love I feel for them is so immense it is hard to put into words. They have become such loving, kind (almost) adults, and those early years seem so far in the past….Enjoy them!

    54. I know exactly what you mean. My babies have been gone the past week at the grandparents. I’ve cleaned the house like a mad woman the past few days. The only thing is, at the end of the day it’s quiet and I don’t have any stories to share with my husband when he gets home from work. It’s really made me realized how a sometimes messy house is worth it if it means I have sweet babies to cuddle throughout the day. Thank you for sharing this. What a wonderful reminder.

    55. Thanks for sharing. I am certainly guilty of looking at the wrong prespective as well. I so appreciate the gentle reminder :)

    56. That was so spot on. I find the same things wipes, legos, papers…emptied or spread across our table/floor. Glad I am not the only one who has the same initial reaction. You are right though, it’s just innocence at it’s best. They are just being kids…Love it.

    57. Wow! What a moving post today!! Thank you so much for speaking “mommy!!” That is exactly how I feel many days and I do try to remember our time with them as little ones is limited. My boys sure know how to make a mess, but I try to squeeze them and tackle them, telling them how much I love them. Thanks for hitting home with me today :)

    58. Thanks for reminding me as well! It’s hard to nurture curiosity and creativity sometimes… ok, a lot of the time. It’s a skill I’ve had to learn in motherhood for sure.

    59. awesome. i needed to hear this today. too many times my perspective is definitely how that creativity is going to cost me time/money etc. i need to enjoy the moments and get over myself :)

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