Sometimes walking into a store with all of your kids takes courage.
The looks, the comments, the stares.
And that can be just from your own kids!
Then a shopper walks by, shakes her head and says, “You’re brave“, once she has established that all 6 kids are mine. I respond, “I don’t know about that. I’d say I’m more like. . . crazy.” I’m just trying to survive taking my kids shoe shopping today, ma’am. They need to start handing medals out for this stuff. Or atleast $100 bills.
A few of my kids needed new sneakers which sounded like a simple enough task. And yet by the time I have everyone dressed, shoes on, potty used, loaded up in the van, and parking in the store’s lot, I have completely lost my salvation. I get mad at my 2 year old for taking her shoes off in the van and throwing them at her sister. I get frusterated at my 7 year old for continuing to ask if we can look at the toys while we are at the store. And there is no parking anywhere close to the entrance, which gets me even more annoyed as I think about trying to navigate into the store safely with all the kids. I quickly begin to rethink the whole outing:
This was a crazy idea, Rona. What if my kids act up in the store and throw a fit for all to see? What if one of them gets hit by a car while we are just trying to make it through the parking lot? What if I lose it, and throw a fit for all to see? I should have gone by myself on a day when Sean can stay home with the kids. That would be so much easier.
But for some crazy reason, I keep moving. That’s half the battle, to keep moving.
I told them the plan right before exiting the van. “Kids, we are here to buy sneakers for Bentley, Lily and Juliette. Then we will go home and have lunch.” Zip zip, in and out. On a side note, my kids know in 4 seconds if I do not have a plan. Guaranteed, they will then barrage me with every great idea they have of what we need to buy. They start to play off of each other and all talk at the same time; I completely lose my mind and start to actually say yes to buying things I would have never normally agreed to. Fine, we need more bubbles. Ok, we can buy ONE box of donuts. Sure, I guess we do need more boxes of princess bandaids for you all to use like stickers on your body. And I most definitely get suckered into going through the toy section that was completely on the other side of the store. A plan helps to keep everyone on task and focused on what you came to the store to do. Everyone.
So there we are, in the shoe department of Fred Meyer. The girls are all talking at the same time about which shoes they like, while I am trying to help my son find the right shoebox with his size on it, and at the same time distracting the 2 year old to keep her from climbing out of the cart. And then my worst nightmare happens. A stranger approaches the scene (yes, I’m sure it’s a scene). On a side note, there are days when I am up for the friendly banter with a stranger and happy to take the time to share about our family or inquire about theirs. But this was not one of them.
Please keep walking, sir. Nothing to see here. Please don’t stop and talk to me.
Yet how many times do I say to my kids, “Be polite”? So I fake a smile and engage the elderly gentlemen, who indeed stopped to talk.
Yes, they are all mine. No, we are not mormon. And yes, you are right, I am very busy.
Just then I see out of the corner of my eye, my 2 year old is a second away from exiting the cart and hitting the deck. I turn to grab her just in time. And then I hear him start talking again. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes, maybe even made an audible sigh. How’s that, kids, for polite?
Can’t I just buy my kids some shoes and be left alone? I’m harming no one. I’m even going to pay for them. And then I’ll leave as quietly as possible. Of course I didn’t actually say all of this. I chose to turn back and face him, for no other reason then my kid’s were watching. And then he had to go and crack my little heart.
“I think it’s wonderful to see you out shopping with all your kids. Good for you! I know it’s a lot of work, but what a great job you are doing. You just don’t see bigger families so much anymore.” And then he added with a chuckle, “And you’re not even Mormon!”
Turns out he was.
The kids and I listened as he shared about coming from a large family and had umpteen number of grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was the richest man in the world he said, with all of the life and love in his family. The wrinkles etched on his face from smiling made me believe it.
My heart had completely softened. I thanked him for coming over and talking with me and for his kind words of encouragement. As he said goodbye, he reached out his hand to shake mine. My heart sank as it recalled how annoyed I was when I saw him approaching. And all he wanted to do was encourage me and share his admiration. I gladly shook his hand. “You’re doing a great job,” he said again, and his hand released something into mine. He smiled and walked away, leaving me with a $100 bill in my hand.
Looks like everyone was getting a pair of shoes now! “Why are you crying, Mom?”, the kids asked me, as I stood there in shock. “Because that sweet grandpa just blessed us . . . because we all came shopping today.” The kids cheered, “We should go shopping everyday then!” And the crazy thing was, I actually wanted to now.
It made me want to go around and hand out $100 bills to all moms who are living their daily life routines and say, “You are doing a good job caring for your family and working hard the way you do!” Because to be honest, I could use that kind of encouragement, daily. Probably because a mom spends a large portion of her day with only kids, and away from any spotlights or fanfare, that such words of encouragement and reminding are so needed.
It’s not for the faint of heart, this thing called mothering. Yet my heart seems to be passed out on the floor constantly. Thankfully, He picks me back up and keeps me moving.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and portion forever.” ~Psalm 73:26
No one sets out to be brave. You set out to buy shoes for your kids. And yet somehow, this is brave to a God who sees right where you are.
“We Are Brave”
by Shawn McDonald
We are brave!
We might bend or even break
The journey’s long, but we will celebrate
When we get through the valley
We’re not defined by the fall
We get back up
Keep pressing through these walls
It’s worth the fight
And we say hey, when we go through the fire
Heart in hand, hope alive, it will be ok
Hey, when we walk across the wire
We won’t back down ‘cause we are brave
We are brave
And even though we might be afraid
To place it all on the line we won’t hesitate
We’ve come too far
So let the blaze keep growing higher
It’s in the flames that we shine brighter
Standing tall through it all
‘Cause we are the fighters
We got style, we got grace, and we walk it bold
We got hearts full of life that are made of gold
We’re alive, we’re alive and we keep on moving, moving