I Have Extra Arms and Extra legs

For all the babywearing moms.

I strapped my tantruming 2-yo to my back, rolled up my sleeves, and dug into the dishes, hoping the closeness and the movement would help her calm down.

The cries eventually turned to whimpers.  The whimpers to sighs.  The sighs to silence.  She was asleep.

Time to lay her down for a nap.

But first I stepped into the bathroom to scoop up the dirty clothes for the laundry.  I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  My silhouette was augmented with extra appendages.  Little tiny fingers, toes, arms, and legs, were peeking out from the left and right.

I stopped.

And stared.

I was exhausted.  I wanted to put her down so I could rest.  Or finish my chores.  I wanted her off me.

But then I saw her there.  Attached to me.  Part of me.

And the tears welled in my eyes.

She won’t always be this small.  She won’t always be strapped to my back or clinging onto my legs.  Her fingers and toes won’t always be this precious tiny.  She will grow up.  She will gain independence.

And I’ll go back to just being me.

I wanted to move on to the next thing.  But I needed to relish this moment.  Remember it.  Ponder it in my heart.

I need to cherish these days when I’m more than me.  When these tiny children are an inseparable part of me.  When their moods, their whims, their needs define my day.

Because it’s beautiful.  It’s blessed.  And it won’t be forever. 

The tantrums will end.  The snuggles will end.  The constant togetherness will end.  I won’t always be able to carry them.  Pick them up.  Kiss their troubles better.

But I can now.

So I didn’t put her down.  I stopped rushing about my chores.  I slowed down and felt her warmth against my back.  Stroked her precious toes.  Held her tiny hands.

I snapped a picture so I could remember this moment.

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And I stared at myself in the mirror.  I am beautiful as I am.  With bags under my eyes.  Love in my heart.  Children as accessories in place of fancy jewelry.

And I tried for weeks to put into words the emotions I feel every time I look at this photo.  Nothing I wrote came close to expressing the love, the peace, the longing, the ache I have for these tiny fingers.  These tiny toes.  These little beings in my life.

But… the words rhymed… so (although I’m no poet) I gathered them together.  And I’m sharing them with you.

Please.  Love your children.

Carry them.

Hold them.

Pick them up and stare at yourself in the mirror.  Cherish this time when they’re a part of you.  When you get to be more than yourself.

Because it won’t last forever.

I have extra arms and extra legs.

They wrap around my neck to hold me tight
And know I’m there for them, to make everything right.

You can often see them peeking out by my side
When I’ve strapped them in the carrier for their favorite ride.

They kick and grab and knock my laundry in a heap
Or rest comfortable and calm if they’ve drifted off to sleep.

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I have extra fingers and extra toes.

That open and empty every drawer
And tiptoe across the hardwood floor.

They are covered in chocolate and covered in mud
But for kissing and tickling, they’re oh-so-good.

I feel them jabbed in my side in the middle of the night
But their curled, sleeping form is my favorite sight.

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I have extra ears and extra eyes.

They watch what I do and hear what I say
And will play it back to me later, someday.

When I see them help a friend, it will make me proud
But I will be shocked to hear them swear out loud.

I have to guard all the things I say and do
So I teach them the right way to speak and act too.

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I have extra hearts and extra souls.

They find beauty in what seems mundane
And understand the joy of snow and rain.

They overflow with love and run to me for hugs
And need me for comfort when there’s monsters or bugs.

I give kisses for their boo-boos and wipe away their tears
And I thank God for loaning me them for a few short years.

In these tiny bodies, when I search deep in their eyes.
I see beautiful, vast souls, hidden inside.


Download the Printable

Click the preview image below to download a free printable version of the poem and photo to print and display in your home.

Extra arms and legs preview.png
click to download

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20 thoughts on “I Have Extra Arms and Extra legs

  1. Beautifully expressed and oh so true! We have 2 away at college, thousands of miles away (we’re in Hawaii, and they are in CA and ID), and I miss them every day. Thankful to still have one at home and so very grateful for the past 21 years of joy they brought into our lives.

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  2. This is so beautiful ! It’s so easy to lose sight of these precious moments when your knee deep in dirty diapers and the babies are all screaming at once. But the truth is it passes so quickly! It makes me so sad to think they wont be this little forever or even for very long. I don’t want to miss one precious moment! Thank you so much for sharing your poem ❤

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  3. So, so sweet. It really takes me back. There was a time when I had Irish twins–carrying one in each arm, or having them fight over me in bed at night. Now they are 22 and 23. The older one is still a cuddler, at least. 🙂

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  4. I’m almost in tears, this is so beautiful! Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in our tasks and forget our blessings. This stage of life is such an incredible blessing. Thank you for sharing your heart mama!

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  5. So beautiful! A great reminder that, not only are we blessed to have extra hands and extra “help,” the time will be fleeting. Someday, we will miss the cuddles, the conversation (aka chatterboxes), and their help!

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  6. I often state out loud at night (after our son is in bed) how relieved I am to have my two hands to do whatever I want for a little while. Thank you for the reminder to be grateful for my little one who needs me so much now.

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