Many stares come my way these days. Today I went to the post office, a couple of thrift stores and then out to lunch; just an ordinary day of errands, right? Not exactly. At least three people said, “Wow! You have your hands full!” And they weren’t referring to my armload of packages. I got more than twice as many stares as comments and I’m pretty sure my clothes matched. Two older men started sharing their life stories with me – and I don’t think it was because I look like a good listener. Nope. It was because I was accompanied by 6 additional feet.
An array of thoughts rushes through my mind as I block the gawking looks, ignore the crass comments (“You do know how this happens, right?”), the nosiness (“So how many more are you going to have?” “When’s the next one coming?”), and the subtle hints that I’m just plain crazy. Instead, I savor those precious word gifts of encouragement: “You are so blessed!” “What beautiful children and they are so well-behaved!” “Your children are blessed to have you and your husband as their parents.” Some people really do understand what a gift children are, but many do not. The latter also do not understand how discouraging it can be when they voice their ignorance. In a time when daily life has to fit neatly into a Facebook status update or an Instagram photo post, larger families are an anomaly. There’s a certain level of chaos that accompanies my daily life, a trail of spills and mishaps that leads to creative mischief-makers and a slowed pace of accomplished tasks that has extended the lifespan of my to-do list to kingdom come.
These 3 mini people have turned my life topsy-turvy, upside down and inside out. There is no aspect of my life that has remained untouched by them. This entire week I have been pondering how my life is different because of them. In less than 4 years I have gone from singleness to family life. I know belly laugh-inducing inside jokes that were created by a toddler and preschooler. I have experienced the head-to-toe warmth that comes when I hear my 3-year old singing a medley of hymns that our family has been memorizing or see my almost 2-year old browsing through clothes at a thrift store in the same way that I do. I understand the rich exhaustion that comes from being needed around the clock. I can now cross off my bucket list: mopping floors with a baby on my back. Once more I am seeing the simplicity in life; that sweet simplicity that is lost somewhere between being a child and becoming an adult. Suddenly bubbles are enchanting, the wild ducks have names, sprinklers are as good as a water park, peanut butter roll-ups are the answer for every meal, and stories are better the hundredth time they are read. And after all these years of just being me, I am now the most important person in the world to a handful of little people of whom the world is not worthy.
It’s true that these six little growing feet come at a high price; but so do fancy houses, gorgeous clothing, memorable cruises, expensive entertainment systems and fine dining. Those are all things that my husband and I have had to bid farewell. However, as we waved adieu to those incredible experiences and possessions we knew that the choice we made instead is an investment into eternity. So the next time you see a mom trailed by many little feet, don’t stare or deliver a sentiment that she already knows. Offer a helping hand; give a compliment; inquire about a prayer request she may have; or simply smile and nod your head in respect. It’ll make her day even better!