Today has been one of those days. You know the kind.
We had many appointments with multiple stops. Bun cried incessantly all day, and Sally decided to forget how to walk and fell no fewer than six times, scraping her knees and hands each time.
It was one of those in and out of the car days, and by the time we were on our last stop it showed. Francie, fresh from horse camp, was not looking so fresh. Thanks to her many spills, Sally looked like she had just had her legs beaten with a stick. And Bun, poor Bun. He cried so much that his eyes were puffy and he puked on himself.
I'm sure we were a sight as we traipsed through the grocery store. (And we weren't even in full rank and file since Fiver was out having his teeth cleaned.) Even though the children were well-behaved, I could still feel the heads turning and the eyes on us as we made our way to the checkout.
Standing in line, I began to wonder when four children became akin to housing a circus. Coming from a family of four, I have never thought that four children were "a lot of kids," but if one more person says "Wow! Four?! You sure have your hands full!" I might scream. I can't guarantee it, but it is a distinct possibility.
Because I know. I know exactly how full my hands are. They are full of little hands and chubby baby thighs; they are full of laundry and broken toys; and at some point during each and every day they are full of crap. They are indeed full, and I wouldn't trade that.
I would trade the comments and the stares and the questions. Are they all yours? You must be busy. Two and two? You must be done NOW. And my least favorite of all: Oh, you're brave to bring them all out. How do you do it?
No. No, I'm not brave. Brave is keeping your children alive in a refugee camp.
I am living in a free country where I can take my children to an air-conditioned supermarket and let them pick from a list of foods that, in the not so distant past, only kings and the very wealthy could have. And I expect them to behave. I fail to see the bravery in that. That is just living.
And as for how I do it? Please, don't think that I have some kind of secret method. Most days I do it impatiently, imperfectly, ungracefully, self-centeredly, and certainly not prayerfully enough. I do it one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time.
Sometimes I don't even feel like I do "it" at all, whatever "it" is. It only takes me two seconds to go from kissing the children to yelling "For the love of Pete, will somebody please flush the damn toilet!"
I know most people don't mean any harm by these comments, but being treated like a sideshow can be tiring. I don't need to justify the number of children with which I've been blessed. I don't need to prove that I am a good mother. I don't need to have the perfect house or the perfect children to show that it wasn't a mistake to choose full hands.
But sometimes, in the grocery store, it just feels like I do.