My kids are close in age. Very close in age. And people seem to notice this when we are out and about frequenting our favorite stores. I am used to the looks and smiles (people just can't help but smile at my adorable kids. Not bragging, just stating a fact.) What I fail to understand is the people who decide it is their place to comment. Often the conversations with perfect strangers go something like this:
Stranger: Are they all yours?
Me: Yes, they are all mine. (I want to respond, "No, I took one from the aisle over there.")
Stranger: Wow, you have your hands full. (eyes wide in amazement)
Me: Yes, we are rather busy.
Stranger: Oh my goodness, I guess so. -OR- How old are they? (3 1/2, 2, and 8 months). -OR- Are they twins? -OR- How do you do it? -OR- (my personal favorite) You are crazy.
And yes, I have had a perfect stranger in a store tell me I am crazy. For having kids. Three adorable sweet children. (And they were actually being very well behaved when she said that!)
Why does having three children make me crazy? What about me taking my kids shopping in a store invites people to think they can tell me that the precious blessings God has given me are a burden? Don't get me wrong, we have challenging days. Hard days. Days I beg for God to grant me patience and wisdom so I can discipline and mold my three children into servants for Him. Teach them His ways. But, really, a stranger telling me I'm crazy, I was speechless. Do they not know that children are a gift from God? That I am blessed to call them mine? What happened to "if you don't have something good to say, don't say anything at all?" Do they realize I do only have 3 kids, right? That isn't a lot. Especially in this day in age where the Dugger family is showing all of the world that 19 kids can be a blessing not a burden!
Then, a stranger made my day. A couple weeks ago we were strolling through Hobby Lobby. I love that store and so do my craft loving kids. I had Se strapped to me in the carrier and Mo and L in the double stroller. It was a great set up. I lost count of how many people stopped us and commented. I am not sure how many times I had versions of the conversation above. By the time we were at the check out I was so ready to leave, simply because I didn't want to hear it any more. (Isn't that sad? I felt like I was defending my children through the whole store!) The nice cashier was ringing up my purchases when a middle aged lady walked past us. I could tell she was sizing us up. As she pasted, her mouth opened and I braced myself for another onslaught of criticism. Instead this is what she said, "You have the most beautiful babies. Oh, my. There isn't an ugly one in the bunch. How sweet." I thanked her and said I would have to agree. I have gorgeous children! She erased all my tension and I left the store feeling like someone saw my littles for the blessings they are.
And yet another reminded me of a strangers ability to be kind. Two days ago we were in Target. It was not one of my children's finer moments. Let's just say one child bit the toe of another (almost drawing blood) and I was in the middle of disciplining. Yes, it IS how you are imagining it. Lots of crying and weeping. An elderly lady walked by. I was distracted with the situation but my dad was there and had a conversation with her that went something like this:
Lady: Oh, are they twins?
Dad: No, just siblings.
Lady: They are both yours?
Dad explained he was the Papa, Nana had the baby and I was the mom.
Lady: Oh, you have three? You are so blessed. I don't have any. I sure do hope I get to see you again before I leave the store. They are just so adorable. He must be tired. (Referring to the biter who was crying, unaware of the discipline issue going on.)
What a sweet lady! It brought tears to my eyes when my dad relayed the entire conversation to me. I could not imagine not having any children. I wanted to adopt her as a Grandma and let her love on my kids all she wanted, but I didn't get to talk to her again and I didn't know what the conversation was till we were headed to the car. But she was right, I am so blessed. I have three beautiful children. They have been entrusted to me and I am proud to be called "Momma." In fact, it is one of my favorite things to be called.
Thank you Lord for two perfect strangers who remind me that not all shoppers are cruel and nosy. Some are sent from you to lift me up and remind me lessons I have already learned.