Six weeks after giving birth to my son Elijah, the unthinkable happens. I wonder how I will manage to find the strength to get through this. An appointment has been scheduled at that I am required to take all three kids to. Despite the fact that I have strived to be “mother of the century” since the day my oldest was born, the thought of taking my three kids, three and under, fills me with absolute terror. Compelled by my desire to prove to the world, or at least myself that I am some sort of Super Mom, I manage to muster up the courage to load the three into the car and drive with some confidence to City Hall. I am a little nervous about getting them all out of the car and into the building, especially since we are parallel parked on Main Street and I do not want to get hit. I unload the two “big” kids and lead them by hand around to the other side of the car. I instruct them to put their hands on the car and leave them there, lift out the car seat, Elijah peacefully sleeping in it and my monstrosity of a diaper bag and we head to the front door. Carrying the car seat, I hold Isaiah’s hand. He grabs Elyse’s hand upon my instruction and we all walk in calmly and quietly.
A lady we know who works there has met us at the door and I am delighted that everyone is behaving while she is there watching. I am sure she is impressed. We make our way to the back catching the eye of a few City Hall employees along the way. While waiting for our appointment there are a few other children running around playing. They are not being particularly bad, but are not immediately obeying their parent’s orders to sit down. My two are sitting quietly in their chairs looking at the books I had thought ahead to bring. The one time Elyse does get out of her chair she tries to touch something on a desk, but promptly obeys me when I tell her, “No”, and comes right back to her seat. We leave in the same manner in which we came, and one lady stops me along the way to tell me what sweet kids I have. I assume everyone in that building has been looking at our family and shaking their heads in wonder thinking, “How does she do it?” I am on top of the world. I am so proud. I am Super mom.
Fast-forward an hour and a half. We are in line at Wal-Mart. Those same sweet angels are with me, buckled in the grocery cart. At least I think it is the same two children, it is hard to tell since their behavior has done a complete turnaround. Whoever made the cart that has two cute little seats that face each other for two adoring siblings to sit in happily across from one another never had children, spent anytime around children and was an only child. Siblings cannot be that close to each other peacefully for even a minute. Elyse is stretching her legs out to rest them in Isaiah’s lap. He is less than hospitable to her comfort screaming, “No!” at her. When he is not throwing his magnadoodle, he is yelling for a bite of the chicken we are snacking on, then refusing the chicken then begging for it again when I turn away. No amount of reminders of the discipline he will receive the second we get out to the car will quiet him and Elyse will not stop with her pestering. I am tired, mortified, and miffed. The lady behind us smiles sympathetically and says, “My you have your hands full.” I imagine her thinking, “Sheesh lady, you and your husband need to get some self control and you wouldn’t have such full hands.” But even if she was not thinking it at the moment, the thought had crossed my own mind once or twice during our trip to Wal-Mart. Her sympathetic look, by the way, changes to one of pure disgust before the extremely loud family in front of her goes wailing towards the door. She, and all the others looking angrily our way, does not know that we had just come home the day before from a visit to Nana and Papa’s where the kids had gotten off their schedule and played with cousins until they were completely exhausted. They do not realize that their sometimes not so bright mother had taken them to Wal-Mart, making them late for their nap and very much in need of lunch. To be honest I was not giving my children that benefit either. I was aggravated, frustrated and wondering what had gotten into them.
I’ll tell you what else I was; I was humbled. God has done that too many times for me to count. I have been asking him recently to keep me humble and He has so graciously been granting my request. The norm for my children wasn’t how they acted at City Hall nor was it the way they had behaved at Wal-Mart. The norm for us is somewhere in between. They are children who occasionally misbehave and I can expect it more so when we are out in public because they have learned when they can get by with more. They are not, however, prone to yelling, screaming, and throwing all out temper tantrums either. My husband and I have to remember not to beat ourselves up and feel like we have failed as parents when we have a bad experience in line at the grocery store. We must also stay humble. Those kids in the waiting room at City Hall may have just been missing a meal and late for a nap and I’d do good to show some consideration and be mindful to remain modest.