Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Remembering This Moment: Hands Full

Remembering This Moment: capturing a moment in our day that I want to hold onto.  It doesn't have to be anything special, just one of the myriad of small, beautiful moments that make up our life.  I know someday the memories of these moments will fade.  This is my way of hanging onto them.  
Read more here.

A couple of weeks ago, I was standing in line at the grocery store with my 3 kids behind me, looking very much like ducklings, all in a row.
Davy was in his car seat, safely tucked inside the grocery cart.  
There were groceries piled all around him and nearly pouring from the shelf on the bottom of my cart.  That car seat takes up a lot of room in the cart.
In front of me stood an older woman.  She looked like may have been a grandma.
You know the kind of woman who would turn and smile at my children, and then at me and say something nice like, "my, what a beautiful family you have."

The kids were darting around behind me, standing on tip toe to talk to Davy, asking for fruit leather, trying to unload groceries before it was time and generally acting like small kids do while waiting in line at the grocery store.
The woman in front of me turned to look at them.
"Oh my," she said.  "You have 3."
Davy squealed from inside the grocery cart.
"You have 4?" she said, sounding shocked and almost indignant.
"Yes," I smiled back.
"Well" she said without a trace of a smile, "is the kitchen closed now?"

Oh I was furious.
I wanted to tell her to mind her own business.
That I wasn't commenting on how much alcohol she was buying or how much she weighed or some other personal matter that I had no right to discuss with a perfect stranger.
That she was really lucky my kids didn't know what she meant.
That she was rude.
I wanted to tell her I was already pregnant with number 5.
But I didn't.
I just smiled sweetly and said, "you never know..."

I have thought about that woman and her comment often since that day.
I have thought about all the times I get that sort of reaction when I am out and about with all my kids.  
True, very few are quite as rude as that woman was.
(Excluding, of course, the people who suggest we get a tv in our bedroom.)
But there is a general attitude that all those kids are more of a burden than a gift.
Their remarks reflect that idea.
Most of the time I hear this one, "wow, you have your hands full."
It's true.  I do.
And sometimes they kick my butt. Remember?
And sometimes I need a break from the lot of them.

But it's also true that I am blessed beyond measure.
That I am fortunate indeed.
That a house full of kids is full of so much richness, joy, tenderness and fun that I wouldn't trade it.
I wouldn't trade it for more time to myself, more quiet, more money, or more freedom.
I wouldn't trade it for less mess, less laundry, less bickering, less whining, or less work.  (well, maybe a little less whining)
What that woman at the grocery store doesn't realize is that all these children give my life a meaning that is far greater than anything else I have ever done or ever will do.
They are my life's work.
And I am so very proud of it.

That woman doesn't know that there are moments like this, with these 4, that make every hard part of this worth it all.
She doesn't know what's she's missing.

Missing out on all this love.

This sweetness.

This tenderness.

And more.

And more.

And more.

And more.

Until it pours out of them and they pile on the bed together to hold their baby brother and sing, "Oh My Daring Davy Boy" to the tune of "Oh My Darling Clementine". 
And there is laughter and wrestling and Mommy saying, "be careful of the baby!" and still, he gets feet in his face.

They love him so much.

That is what this is about.

It is not about them making my life harder.
Not that taking 4 kids to the store is a pain.
Or that feeding 4 kids costs a small fortune.
Or that they all share a room and there is always a line for the bathroom.
It's not about inconvenience.
Because you will always have inconveniences in your life.
Whether you have 4 kids, 1 kid or none.

At the end of my days, I will not care about the inconveniences.
But I will care about the things that matter.
I will care about the things that last.
That is what life is really about.

It's about celebrating new life instead of resenting it.  
Or worse, despising it.

It's about being part of a family. 
And having a place to belong.

It's about teaching them to care about other people, to be generous and that it is more important to be rich in love than in things.
They start learning that at home, with each other.
Because it's about them carrying that attitude out into the world.

Life is about finding joy in the little things and having fun.
And laughing together.
We are rich in laughter.

One of my favorite books is The Color of Water by James McBride.
The author is one of 12 children raised by his mother through poverty, hardship and much personal sacrifice.
The book is the story of his mother's life and the lives of her children.
At the end of the book, when asked about what she is most proud of, his mother says her children.
She likens them to her masterpieces.
I think that's beautiful.

I read this post a while back and it struck a chord in my heart.
I can relate to it on so many levels.
It is a true and also sad portrait of modern day mothering.
It is a challenge to be an honest mother to the world, but more importantly to my children.
Much like the author, I want my children to know I celebrate them.
I am grateful for them.
I don't want them to feel like they are a burden to me.
Yes, my hands are full.
But so is my heart.

Love from,


Phyllis said...

I think they seem so rude and defensive (and yes, I get plenty of it) because deep down they know they are missing out on something grand. We, of course, know they are, too.

Betsi* said...

Beautiful. Spoken from the very heart of the Father. Thank goodness He never finds us an inconvenience or burden!

effie said...

I would often be in the grocery store with my beautiful, happy young daughter. Strangers would come up to me and say, "Oh, you only have one? She really needs a brother or a sister." Seems like a pretty innocent statement unless you know the back story of all the miscarriages, the failed attempts, the heartbreak of not being able to have another child. It cuts like a knife. But in the end, strangers are just that...strangers. It's really not personal. It's a reminder to all of us not to assume we know what someone else's life is like.

Lisa said...

well said Greta, and I love what Betsi said too. I cringe remembering when after having Daniel, at 39yrs old, when the other kids were half grown already, people (even my own parents) commenting that "don't you know where babies come from??"
Made me feel very alone and like I'd done something shameful. Pnut brings me more joy than I can express or deserve. Children are a blessed gift. Thanks for the reminder.

Barbara said...

Your blog brought tears to my eyes because I feel the same way and if I could have had mor children I surely would have. Your pictures are beautiful and reflect all of the love and love of family that you express so beautifully. You are a very special wife,and mom.

Alima said...

wow! I am still in shock that someone would make a comment like that to a person she didn't know. Some people have no manners.
Your children are beautiful and you have such a great outlook as a mom!
I went to school with a family who had 12 children. They were the most awesome family. All the siblings were close friends and the parents were just great people with a positive outlook on life. You could tell they felt their large family was an awesome blessing and definitely not a burden.

jessicaclarke said...

It's crazy the things people will say to a complete stranger, I live in a area where there are lots of large families so luckily I usually don't get comments like that. Beautifully said.

Laura said...

beautifully said!

Laurie J said...

so I'm not the only one people say obnoxious things to in the grocery story towing my 4 kiddos?! ;)
our cups overflow!

Heidi C. said...

This is such an eloquently written reminder to be thankful for what I have and gave me some much needed perspective today. Please know that in addition to the many wonderful things you have done today as a mother you have also touched the heart of a stranger.

hannah singer said...

and again, here i sit. weeping in the almost dark of our quiet house. a long battle for bedtime tonight with my boy. i am tired. and grateful that i have this little disciple to make me so tired!
thanks for this post-and i read that DG article last month, too! it was ACE.

bless you, greta.
my heart is full of thankfulness for you.
praise jesus. xo

Aaron Eskridge said...

You are right, it is very challenging to have 4 small children. I am challenged by them every day. But, I am glad for it! And, I would not trade them, or you, for ANYTHING.
The five of you are the air that I breath. And, while I am challenged, I pray that I can grow to be worthy of you.
Thank you.


Stacey said...

You have such a beautiful family. I pray that God will let me have 4 kids some day. I have one and he is precious but my husband and I are separated because he is an alcoholic. God is good, though.