This is the third post in my series of reflections on motherhood. The first two are "Making mothering easier" and "Maybe this is why God let me have children".
Our local grocery store has shopping carts that are outfitted with a blue seated section at the back of the cart. They are heavy and slightly hard to maneuver through the produce section but they fit my four kids perfectly. Resa's carrier carseat lays snugly across the front of the cart. JF sits in the traditional basket seat spot. L and Ben perch in the blue seats. That cart is actually a dream come true for me because I'm not sure I'd be able to grocery shop as effectively without it.
However, it is when we are loaded in that cart that I get the most comments.
"You've got your hands full."
"You're reminding me of things that I'm glad are distant memories."
"You have no room for your groceries!"
"You must be busy."
"Are they all yours?"
"You have a lot of kids."
"You are so blessed."
Hardly anyone ever says that last line, though I have occasionally gotten it from kindly women who may actually be angels of the Lord.
When people make comments about my children - how many and how close together in age they are - I always think about what they're really saying even if they are unaware of it: "You have too many children, or in the very least they are too closely spaced."
And then I wonder if they would say that if we didn't have Ben. Take Ben out of the picture and I have a four year old, a two year old, and a baby. Three children - that's an acceptable amount of kids - especially where I live. And spaced every two years - what good planning! Yes, Ben is the one who has got to go, who never should have been, who is too much.
This thought makes my heart incredibly sad. My heart sinks with the thought of not having Ben in the world and I know that the people who make those comments just don't know what a treasure he is. Ben, who taught himself to burp on command before he turned three, is silly and funny. He loves to make people laugh and will make up nonsensical knock-knock jokes in an effort to do so. Ben loves music and even more so he loves to sing. He puts great effort into his renditions of "Old McDonald" and the Thomas and Friends theme. Ben, who has a gentle and kind heart, will often sing to his baby sister in order to soothe her. "Resa is so cute," goes the song he made up for her. He is generous by nature and will gladly share his fruit snacks or popcorn or chocolate bar, smiling to see the recipient so happy to receive.
Ben, who shamelessly rides his sister's Princess bike around the block, loves to dig in the dirt and play with his trains, and potty trained himself, is my little buddy boy. I do not have a favorite child, but there's a special place in my heart for Ben*. I am so glad and grateful for all four of my kids, even Ben - who came unplanned and too soon for some people's taste.
And so, to you commenters in the grocery store, I say:
"You've got your hands full." Yes, I do and it's great.
"You're reminding me of things that I'm glad are distant memories." I'm having fun.
"You have no room for your groceries!" There's plenty of room!
"You must be busy." Aren't we all?
"Are they all yours?" Yes, fortunately!
"Wow." I know! They're so cute!
"You have a lot of kids." I do.
"You are so blessed." I am. Thank you.
*Okay, there's a special place in my heart for all five of my kids. Each has their own special traits that endear me to them and I tuck them into their own little territory in my heart.