I am walking down the path that leads to the chicken coop and the girls rush past me — running ahead, unplugging the electric fence — eager to greet the birds and check for eggs. The day is cold and dark and there is just one egg. A light blue egg, a shade slightly softer than Amabel’s coat. She wants to hand it to me but my hands are full with baby, compost bucket, camera, and letters to put in the mailbox. This is my recent condition: hands full. My two greatest mothering tools are my voice and my hands, but for the past two months my hands have been so occupied with our little baby man that I’ve had to rely on my voice with the girls and I’m feeling the strain. My voice isn’t tired; the girls are tired. Tired of me talking so much. Telling them what to do instead of guiding them with my hands. I long to put my arms around them, to do projects next to them — or to simply get a glass of water myself instead of asking them to help me again.
Jeffrey arrives on the scene. He takes the egg from Amabel and hands her a sheet of ice that he lifted off the top of the wheelbarrow. As I watch the girls examine the ice (we have no snow yet — but ice is a welcome sight), I am grateful that his hands are here to do the work that my hands long to do. I set the compost bucket down and somehow manage, with a baby wrapped up on my chest, under my down coat and thick scarf (“Mama, you don’t even look like you have a baby. You just look really plump!”) to take a photo of our daughters with their ice on the day after Christmas.