I’m not sure where to even began today. The weather said 100 degrees. And even though we have AC, the one day I ran it this summer, it never shut off. I was so stressed about my electric bill, that all I could think about was turning them off. There is no shade on the house, so it bakes in the sun all day. And the afternoon sun is brutal. Reminds me of our house in CA. And the house actually has 2 old heat pumps, so it’s twice the electricity in a futile effort to cool this place. So I just gave up on them. We leave the windows open and most days it’s just fine. But today would be miserable. I knew that. So I had told the children we would head to the river after swim lessons. We have a favorite swimming hole and that was our place of destination. But after two hours of me asking them to clean up their rooms, I got frustrated and told them we were not going to the river. They promptly cleaned their rooms and informed we they were ready to go.
This is where being a Mom is so stinking hard. I really wanted to go to the river. I knew how hot are house would be. And cranky the children would be. I had laundry to do and a room to finish painting. The yellow jackets in the yard would be mad and someone would probly get stung. The river would be so much easier for me. But then there’s my word. If I say one thing and then do another, what does that teach them? – That mom doesn’t really mean what she says. We can disobey, and in the end, still get the privileges that we were counting on.
So as I thought this through, and processed the morning in a few nano seconds, I realized we would be home in our very hot house on a very hot day. I loaded everybody up, and off to swim lessons we went. Just as I turned into the parking lot, I realized that I had wanted to go to Wal Mart first and had left early enough to do so. Why can I not stay focused enough to just get to the right place? So U-turn done, we headed to Wal Mart.
Getting out the door every morning has been a challenge. Other than church on Sunday, which I have Eric’s help, I don’t normally head out very early. But for two weeks, I have needed to have everybody in the car and driving by 9:30. And then, trying to be extra efficient, I have been running errands BEFORE swim lessons.
My WalMart stop was out of necessity. Our kitchen floor is tile, and since we have moved in, someone (including myself) has dropped a dish on the floor every day and broke it. Yesterday, after cleaning up a broken plate full of food in the middle of dinner, I decided that I was done with my porcelain dishes. We were going back to plastic. I switched about a year ago and was using all porcelain, after all the bad stuff being said about plastic, but last night I just didn’t care anymore. So plastic it will be until we tear out the tile and put down something more friendly to glass.
We made it through Wal Mart uneventfully. Everybody picked out their favorite color in plastic dishes, I gave a quick talk on how I didn’t want any fighting over whose dish was whose, and if they thought that would be a problem, then we should put back the chosen dishes and get just one color. They all assured me they would do great with the colors and sharing if necessary. We checked out, I filled up with gas AND we made it to swim lessons on time. Wow!
While sitting watching the children swim, I suddenly remembered that there was a luncheon at the church that I had wanted to go to. But since my days are consumed with the children, especially in the summer when we seem so busy, I had forgot about it. But now that we were not going to the river, I could go. It was just down the street from my house, the little ones would all be napping, my neighbor would be home, Julia would come with me, and the older ones could work on some chores. So I made up my mind that I would go. I was suppose to bring a favorite salad. I decided to swing by Costco and grab something that looked good. Since there was no time anymore to make something. But I would have to hurry to make it on time.
As soon as lessons were over, we quickly headed to Costco, I power walked thorough the store and made it out in record time. Ben opened the car doors, and I mentioned that I once again I had forgot to lock the doors. Good thing we live in a city with low crime. Everybody got in, got buckled- they were all racing to see who could do it the fastest. I think they had made up teams. Then I realized that I couldn’t find my keys. I dug though the diaper bag. Nothing. Everybody started unbuckling to help me look. Ben checked the cart. Nothing. We tore the car apart. Nothing. So I loaded the little ones back into the cart (including Josh-who had forgot his shoes), and we headed back into the store. Laura and Ben re-traced our steps while I stood in the very long line of people waiting to sign up for a membership.
Soon an older couple got in line behind me. It didn’t take but a few seconds for the counting to begin…
“Are those ALL yours?”
I didn’t even want to answer. I knew it would be seconds before one of the children would announce that Mom had lost her car keys. They were all thrilled with this new adventure. I have never lost my keys in a public place before. They have been misplaced many a time here in our home due to children needing to unlock something, but when we go out, the keys stay with me.
So I answered, “yes” lacking the confidence I normally have. I was tired. Frustrated. I had decided that I would actually do something for myself, by going to this lunch, but I was already late and things were not looking very good. I had already run the “what am I going to do if I don’t find the keys” scenario though my head. Eric could not leave work to rescue me for six hours. And even if he could, the second set of keys and the spare had already been lost somewhere in our house by different children since we moved in. Boys and keys are like magnets here. The situation was looking bad. If I was just locked just out of my van, with the keys inside, then I’d just call a locksmith. But what do you do when the keys are gone?
The man was not satisfied with my one word answer. He actually counted again, then asked how many children I had.
“seven.” (I’m wishing he would just leave me alone)
He says “You must be missing one.” My head snapped around. I count my children every few minutes non-stop when we are out. “one, two, three, four, five, six,…seven.” Over and over. Hundreds of times. Often one has wondered off, but is close enough to track down. I had just done a head count not a minute ago. Who could possible be missing. The four little ones were in the cart and the older ones knew I was stressed. So I count…1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Everyone was there. But then maybe I had somehow miscounted. So I counted again…1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Everyone accounted for. I looked Mr. Cause Me Stress dead in the eye and said, “No, they are all here. All seven.” He argued with me that he had only counted six. So I counted out loud, while pointing to each child. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7.
He replied,”Oh, guess there were so many I couldn’t count them all.”
At this point I was feeling attacked. Seven…really???? He can’t count to seven??? Even my three year old can count all seven of them. In fact, she can count all nine of us.
It didn’t stop there. His wife started drilling me about patience.
“Goodness, she was glad the good Lord had only given her three, because Lord knows, she could never have survived another child.”
“Patience- where do you get enough patience- I could never do that. It would have killed me!”
“And you must be one of those crazy homeschool families too!”
“When do you ever get time to yourself?”
“And how come THAT (pointing to Gabe) one is BLONDE? He sure doesn’t match the others?”
Then her husband cut in.
“How stupid can you be?”
“Don’t you know how to stop having children?”
“Really, you can’t take care of that many children, you know?”
“How DO you take care of that many children?”
Back and forth they shot out accusations at me. How my children were surely suffering from my lack of care. How stupid and crazy homeschooling was. How no human could have the patience needed to care for these children.
I blinked back tears. Really, today was not the day I felt like taking on this verbal abuse. I just wanted to find my keys. Go home. I had not asked for their opinions. And my children were being so good. Patience?? I needed it for them at that moment, not my children. Homeschooling?? My oldest two tested well above their grade levels on the CAT, (administered by a public testing facility) and they have never stepped a foot into a public or private school. So I can’t be doing that bad of a job teaching them. And they seem plenty socialized. I think they are all thriving. And me…well I have good days and bad days. Days I am consumed with children who don’t listen to me or fight or have bad attitudes. They break things that should not have been broken. They make messes. Somedays, I just want to crawl into my bed, hide under my covers, and cry myself to sleep.
And then there is the good days. These children are amazing. They are sensitive to the needs of our family. They can give unconditionally. They can love with a child like love that I have much to learn from. They work hard and play even harder. They want to fight for things worth fighting for. They want to understand good and evil. They have each others back.
And at the end of a day, no matter how hard the challenges were, I survive. And I’m ready for the next day. One day at a time. With the grace of Jesus.
I slowly made my way to the front of the line. Giving Mr. and Mrs. Cause Me Stress one word answers to their unending questions. At the counter, I explained my situation to the lady, who pointed me over to another employee, who instructed me to look in a drawer, where my keys were waiting for me. I thanked him, and quickly headed back to our car. It had taken thirty minutes to retrieve the missing keys.
By now I was almost an hour late to the luncheon. I didn’t even want to go anymore. But I had bought the salad, and I decided that late was better than never. I put the little ones down for their naps, left instructions for the older ones on what chores needed to be done. Made sure they had my cell phone number, the neighbors phone number, and knew that I would be home in less than an hour. And sooner if they needed me.
The ladies were all so happy to see me there. I was the youngest by about 20 years. And I’m not all that young anymore. It was a nice lunch and I met some new women who all adored Julia. The pastors wife asked me how I was doing. She looked me right in the eye, and at that moment, I could no longer pretend that all was well. That I had my whole life together and I was just so happy to be there. I blinked back tears as the words tumbled out of my mouth about what had happened at Costco. The lost keys. The mean words that had been said to me. How I didn’t really even want to come to the luncheon. She quietly listened as she does so well. She hugged me and promised to go with me to Costco if I ever needed her. She was so upset at the people who had been so rude to me. After filling her in on my whole morning, I felt much better. Somehow, everything didn’t really seem that big of a deal anymore. Even sounded kinda funny as I thought about it all. I was ready to take on the rest of the day. Rude people and all.
I headed home as soon as the luncheon was over. I came home to a very clean house. I changed into my painting clothes, sent the children outside to play in the pools (little kiddie ones from kmart) and picked up where I had left off painting. It wasn’t long and my friend from church (the one I had just shared my horrible, no good, very bad morning, with showed up in her painting clothes too. In no time we had finished what needed to be done, and she left to go make dinner for her husband. And I got dinner ready for my family. Eric came home with some beautiful sunflowers, knowing that it had been a rough day. Oh, how I love him. Sunflowers…so big and bright and beautiful. So just perfect for today.
As I type this now, it already seems like weeks ago since this morning. I am still alive and well, even laughing to myself as I write this all down. Time to check out and go to bed. I’m exhausted. Emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And tomorrow is just a few hours away. 🙂