This is a journal entry from May 1, 2006
This afternoon I did a very brave thing - I took the kids to Central Market.
Look over that sentence and I will point out two very significant things.
AFTERNOON - morning is the optimal time to take the kids anywhere they will be semi-confined. Today I chose to take them at 1:10. To top it all off, they had not had a proper lunch yet. (There is an exercise class that I like to take from noon to one. I had intended to go straight home after the class, but realized during the class that I had nothing planned for dinner.)
KIDS - plural. Taking only one is usually fine any time of the day. Two kids at the wrong time of the day is just . . . brave.
Princess was asking great questions about shopping and I was trying to take advantage of the teachable moments to, well, teach her. She helped me pick out the bell pepper, the mushrooms, the eggplant, etc. It was very fun! I am continually amazed at her maturity. She even told me, "I'm going to help you today because that's what six year olds do!"
Oh my sweet little Buddy. His Central Market story is a bit different.
I can't let him tour a grocery store on his own power. He MUST ride in the cart. Picturing him loose in the Central Market produce section conjures up not a sit-com moment, but an entire episode. So he was in the front of the cart. He inspected all of the produce, too, but only to see how far he could throw said produce back into the cart. He also experimented with positions in the cart - seated, crouched, standing, backwards . . . you get the picture. There was one time when I actually gave him a little "pop" on the leg - something that I never do in public for fear that I will not be allowed to go home with him. (Side note - yes, we do spank. But we have very strict rules for our spankings so that we - Hubby and myself - hold each other accountable and don't misuse it. One of the things that gets an automatic spanking is willful disobedience. I told Buddy not to drop the bag of oranges, he looked at me, raised them and then let go. Pop.) Because of his "spiritedness", I felt that I was constantly fussing at him and was very conscious of who was around me.
All through the store I kept seeing this one woman. I noticed that she and I seemed to have the same things on our list. She was in the produce section when we were, she was sampling bread when we were, etc. She was a very well put together older woman with beautiful white hair and a stylish skirt and blouse. When we were ready to check out, for some reason I chose the line that she was in - not really because it was shorter, but somehow she seemed safe. I had no idea why, but now I see that it was divine intervention!
I got in the line and, once again, scolded Buddy for standing up in the cart. The woman looked back at me and said, "You know, we've been following each other all over the store. I had forgotten how busy young mothers are! It's constant, isn't it! And you don't get a break!"
Here's the picture - I have no make-up on, I'm stinky because I just worked out, and I have a writhing (and giggling) Buddy in my arms. My first thought was, "She called me young!"
"Yes! It is busy!" I said to her. "But you know, I just got back from a church retreat. Three days of BEING fed. It was great!"
She smiled. "That's so important" she said. Then she leaned in, looked me in the eye and said, "Your children are very well behaved."
What an amazing blessing those words were. One of the most difficult parts of not having a "boss" or a "job" is that I don't get yearly evaluations. I don't have a written job description by which I can measure my performance. There is no training manual with instructions that lay it all out with "A to B to C and then you get D". (Oh yes, there are plenty of parenting books - many of which I have thrown across the room.) The thing is, I won't really know if I did a good job as a mom until my kids are much older - if then. That sweet angel at the checkout line in Central Market acknowledged that my job is a hard job. And she told me that I was doing it well.
I would like to think that my true Boss used her to tell me that He is pleased with how I'm doing. And to Him I say, "Thank you, Sir. I love my job. I hope that I can continue to grow in it and to please You."
And I also hope that someday when I am a well put together older woman with white hair and stylish clothes (!) I can stop and encourage a young mom in a grocery store with a small boy climbing over her shoulder.