It’s not been an easy few weeks for me. It all started when our third child fell and fractured her ankle. My husband left a couple days after that which required me to take all 4 kids to get her cast put on…thankfully only one partial meltdown occurred just before leaving the doctor’s office. The day after my husband returned we made an unplanned trip to Texas for a week for a funeral and only a couple of days after we returned I had to go to the hospital for some unexpected medical concerns which are still not completely resolved. In the midst of all of this, I’m dealing with a friendship gone south after an unresolved misunderstanding that transpired nearly a year ago. I provided all of these details to set the stage for today’s adventure.
Our kitchen was quite bare since we still hadn’t restocked upon returning from our trip – nearly 5 days ago. I knew my husband had some long work days coming up and I didn’t want our entire Saturday to be spent in Costco so last night I dared myself to go by myself with the kids. “All right,” I replied, “I accept your dare.” The first thing I determined in preparation for this adventure was to not rush the kids AT ALL when they got up. The minute I put the pressure on them they dig in their heels and move even slower than normal. So I acted as if it was business as usual but mentioned we would go to Costco once morning chores were done. “Costco?” they squealed. “Maybe there will be samples!” They moved a bit faster after that but not much.
Morning chores consist of clearing the table, sweeping, unloading the dishwasher, pet care, time on the potty, getting dressed and brushing teeth, and making the beds. The kids help with pretty much all of it in some way. I left them cleaning up their rooms when I took the dog out; as I was approaching the house (after having walked about 30 steps away) I look up to see my bare-naked son standing in the driveway with a shocked look on his face as he declared, “Mom! You left without me!” He was quickly joined by his younger sister who was only wearing a T-shirt and the child with the bright pink cast was not far behind. “Oh goodness,” I thought, “this is only supposed to happen to other people!” I shooed my bare-bottomed offspring back into the house and reviewed their instructions from only 3 minutes ago. Instruction number one: get dressed.
An hour later, give or take 30 minutes, we were finally in the car and on our way to Costco. Everybody was very excited, including me. I had packed ample snacks and prayed that it had been a wise decision to pack lightly by only taking 2 diapers and a pull-up instead of the whole diaper bag. I also prayed that my mostly potty-trained two-year old would not need to go pee at all in Costco and that I wasn’t being naive to have left her in panties instead of putting a pull-up on her as a precaution. Upon arriving at the store, I loaded the two girls in the cart, put the baby’s seat in the Snap and Go stroller, and assigned Makoa to push the stroller (after all, he turns 4 this month). I held my breath as we navigated that huge parking lot. I told him to stay close to me and to look at the baby while I watched for cars. He froze mid-lot a couple of times because he thought cars were coming but gained confidence as we got closer to the entrance.
I lost count of how many times I heard, “You have your hands full” and the looks of pity that accompanied those comments. One open-mouthed lady asked, “Are they all yours?” One Costco employee stopped in his tracks to watch Makoa pushing the stroller and said, “You must really trust him! My son would have tipped the stroller over by now.” I replied, “I really do trust him. He is a good boy.” The refrigerated rooms made us all laugh. The kids would cry out, “Coldee! Coldee” and then giggle incessantly. As we walked along, completing our list, I doled out snacks as needed. My fantastic stroller-pusher would shout out, “Samples! I see samples, Mom!” and we would work our way over to them as quickly as possible. Then he would say, “I think we should pause,” since he couldn’t eat and push at the same time. So we would pause and it would give me time to think.
I thought about how I felt with all the stares, the looks of wonder and the looks of pity. I wondered how I would handle it if everyone chose to fall apart at the same time. I encouraged myself to relax my shoulders and just enjoy the moment. I chatted with my children and savored the samples and rather liked not having to worry about lunch today.
We had made it through the check out and were headed to the exit with receipt in hand when Little Miss Pink Cast decided it was time to stand up in the cart. In the process, her cast got stuck. So there we were – in the middle of the lane – trying to maneuver her immobile foot while she got madder and madder. I finally got her seated again but by this time she was very upset. She decided to vent loudly and viciously whacked the cart, something that did not make her feel any better. I chose to not take a quick survey of the audience I knew we had.
We made it out of the store and the change of scenery soothed the melting down toddler. I instructed my son to “Watch Kealoha and watch me and I’ll watch for cars.” Then my darling two-year old said, “And I’ll watch Kale’a and I’ll watch me.” She really wanted to feel like she had a job too. When we arrived at our van, I breathed a sigh of victory. I looked at Makoa and said, “You made me so proud today. You did such a good job pushing that stroller and helping me.” He got a sheepish grin and slightly shrugged his shoulders, “Yeah, I did.” I scooped him up in a big bear hug. Kalena said, “I did a good job too, Mommy, and you did a good job.”
Sitting here reflecting about my day and all that I’ve experienced recently I have come to the conclusion that I can walk in confidence. My fear and anxieties mostly come from wondering how I’ll handle unknown situations – bad ones, painful ones, humiliating ones. And even deeper down I’m worried that how I handle it will prove me inadequate at best, a failure at worst. Now I see that I don’t have to be ashamed of my imperfections, of having my own opinions and perspectives, or of making choices of which others may disapprove. I can even have people dislike me and I’m okay. I’m okay because I know that God’s got me. In the throes of sorrow, in the hurt of rejection, in the humiliation of toddler tantrums in public, He’s got me and He provides a way to survive. He allows all things for my good and His glory. It may sound simplistic to say this but all I’m really called to do in this life is believe Him.
How has God proven Himself faithful to you today?