Enough (part 2)

A few weeks ago, my kids and I were having a particularly rough, grocery shopping trip.  And to be completely fair, the chaos wasn’t all on them.  I’ve been a mom long enough to know that you don’t bring hungry, tired children into a store and then expect them to sit patiently and obediently as you complete your chores.  But it was a particularly busy day, and I had decided to risk the potential craziness by shopping a little too close to nap and lunch time.

(Never again…).

Anyway, we loudly rounded a corner into the baking and spice section, and our carriage lightly tapped the carriage of an elderly gentleman in front of us.

“Oh my goodness, I am SO sorry,” I apologized from the other side of my obnoxiously long, over-flowing shopping cart.

A smile popped onto his wrinkled face, and I instantly liked him.

He took in both hysterical children, paused a moment, then slowly cupped his hands around his mouth and whistled the perfect imitation of a bird.  The mouths of both of my children dropped, and they went silent.

B-Boy gasped, “Hey, how you do that?”

The man replied, “It’s my invisible bird.  He lives in my pocket.”

“I have one too,” Brady announced, cupping his hands over his mouth and blowing as hard as he could through it.  Princess K giggled loudly, which only encouraged him further.  We had gone from angry cries to the sound of laughter and wind.

I really, really liked this adorable, elderly gentleman…  like a lot.

With the kids occupied, the man looked up at me, smiled, and pointed at the spices, saying, “Do you know how to make stuffed shells?  It’s basil that I want?”

I nodded, “Yes, I’d say that basil would be good!  Are you doing some cooking?”

He nodded.  His eyes lowered a bit as he said, “My wife always cooked stuffed shells for my birthday every year.  She’s gone, and it’s just me now.  And I just want to eat them on my birthday and feel like she’s a little closer.”

For one brief moment, time stood still; and I felt as though my breath had been  knocked out of me.  I murmured that I was so sorry.  I helped him find the basil.

He blinked his eyes a few times and apologized, “I don’t want to bother you with my talking too much.

I assured him that I wasn’t bothered at all.  I love to talk!  I proceeded to help him find some of the ingredients he would need, as we kept pace for the majority of the shopping trip.  His infectious smile won over the children, and B-Boy proceeded to call him Grandpa (obviously having enough love in his heart to adopt another grandfather into his life).

Both kids giggled, and gave him high fives, and played peek-a-boo.  I invited him to church; and we chatted a lot about the weather, upcoming holidays, and just life in general.  We had gone from insanity to embracing the beauty of the moment faster than I could comprehend, and I just knew that we had been meant to bump into each other.

Before we parted ways, I told him, “Thank you for helping me with the kids today!”

He softly said, “Thank you for taking time to talk with me.  I haven’t had anyone to talk to in awhile.”

As we walked off, B-Boy gave one final wave as he happily called out, “Bye, Grandpa!”

I looked back to see the man’s wrinkled face beaming with the largest, happiest of smiles.

To be honest, I almost cried for most of the car ride home, because my heart was so broken for him.  But God put on my heart that He had sent me – a frazzled, busy mom – and my children to that elderly gentleman to help shine a beam of joy into his life.  To help him maybe feel a bit of purpose and love again.

Had I been shopping alone, in stylish boots and calm state-of-mind, I would have walked right by that lonely soul who needed a bit of kindness.  It was the chaos – the noise of two fidgety children being pushed in a runaway carriage – that brought us together.  That actually allowed him to help me in the moment, which opened the door to us helping him.

I was reminded that while mom life has maybe changed some of the ways that I can share God’s love with others, it hasn’t destroyed it.  God is powerful enough to use us in every single stage of life (even in the busy mom stage), through the good and the bad.  We just need to be willing to be used.

God doesn’t put us on a backburner and say, “Come back when you’re put together again, and then we’ll figure something out.”  He uses us in the midst of the messy craziness and sometimes even BECAUSE of it.

Because while we moms are so often struggling to find self worth and meaning amidst the daily routine, God sees us.  Loves us.  And USES us.  Not only for the families we hold so close but for the others that cross our paths.  And while we might not be hosting large fundraisers or volunteering for prestigious positions that address crowds, we can choose to show compassion and love for the individuals that God puts in our path.

That one person we reach at a time?  They’re worth it.

Our impact doesn’t have to be loud and grandiose to matter.  And while we moms might feel trivial and small at times, to God… we are enough.

 

Enough

Sometimes, I think that grocery shopping with a couple of caffeinated monkeys would be easier than attempting to do it with my own two children. I mean, we start off all cute and collected.  We’re this beautiful, put-together family, sporting our in-love-with-life smiles and natural curls.  As we’re passing the egg nog and  holiday flavored creamers, we’re a Hallmark commercial come to life.  Shoppers pause to tell me how adorable we all are, and the kids – as if on cue – hug each other affectionately.

That first five minutes of grocery shopping in the dairy aisle is quite beautiful, actually.

Then we hit aisle fifteen.

You can track us down easily by the trail of cracker crumbs we’ve left throughout the store.  Or simply follow my three year old’s screams.

By this point, we’ve brought the crazy.  Both kids are tired of sitting (which apparently is an affliction to children under the age of four, although – if you ask me – being pushed around a supermarket for an hour while being handed snacks sounds a bit like a vacation).  They’ve eaten their fill of crackers and are now demanding something a little more substantial.  Like jelly beans or lollipops.  They’re writhing their bodies in directions that no human was meant to twist into and emitting sounds that closely resemble the call of an injured moose.

Me?  I’m just trying to calmly hold it all together, before Crazed Mom comes out to play.  And while I’m trying my hardest to look composed, people can see it in my eyes.  At this point, if I told the biker dude in front of me to drop and give me twenty, he’d bark back, “Yes, Ma’am!”

Image result for evil minion

I really, really just need to survive this shopping trip.  Then I will have six glorious days before I have to face this particular crisis again; and I can – instead – focus on the other beautiful, yet challenging, moments that fill up the life of a mother.

Just another item checked off my to-do list!

As moms, it’s SO easy to feel that the things we do are small (even though they’re everything to our family).  Because let’s face it, grocery shopping with two children under four years old may feel a bit like trying to catch a tornado with a lasso.  And cleaning up after that tornado every single day – which always seems to pull out the same mess of pom poms, playdough, cheerios, lego’s, and poop – is just as daunting…. and seemingly minuscule.  But if we aren’t doing it, then whose feeding, clothing, and cleaning up after the ones we love the most?  (Let’s face it, contrary to popular belief, there are no magical nannies that float around during the day to take care of the little – and big things – that need to get done).

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Without my touch, the day would look something a little different.  (And my husband assures me that he’s pretty sure he wouldn’t survive).  I am blessed – yes, BLESSED – to have the opportunity to be so present in my children’s lives, even if it is really hard some days.  To clean up those pom poms, and wipe that poop, and instruct when we’re swirling through a grocery store like a tumble-weed flying through a windstorm.

But a lot of days, while we’re enveloped by being the mom to little ones,  it’s tempting to feel that as though any difference we make is confined to the walls of our homes.  That God will once again use us once we have a little less crazy and a whole lot more classy in our lives.

But a few weeks ago, during a particularly rough shopping trip, I was reminded that God can use us in the midst of the crazy.  Because of the crazy….

(to be continued…)

 

 

The Mom Look (Part 2)

(Click HERE for Part 1 if you missed it…)    🙂

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I caught sight of myself in one of the over-sized, Sephora mirrors and thought, “Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize I looked that bad…”

Frizzy curls gone wild.  Ketchup stain on my left shoulder.  A splatter of blue paint on my right cheek.  Rushed attempt at foundation streaked across my forehead that had since been melted off.  Mascara smeared.  Baggy t-shirt that had seen better days.

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I was basically sporting a look that screamed “I just don’t care right now”, “I haven’t slept in three years, ” AND “help me”.

A Sephora employee whose makeup was so perfect it looked porcelain walked up to me but stopped before she got too close, because the ‘mom look’ is apparently contagious.

I smile and say, “Hi!  I’m just hoping to find a lotion that helps me out, because mom life…”

She waits for me to say more.  I’m confused, because I thought that already explained it all.

She says, “What do you want it to do?”

I pause a moment and then reply, “Everything?”

I laugh (a little too hysterically), because I think I’m being clever.  And I’m really tired and over-caffeinated.  She’s looking me up and down a bit in horror, and I realize that I am walking birth control.  I am the epitome of what young women say will never happen to them.

And I feel that slight sting for a moment…  The memory of days-gone-by when I had time to paint my nails.  Straighten my hair.  Dress up in an outfit that was classy and current.  Free moments to giggle with friends over a coffee or run out to a restaurant with my hubby.

Life has changed… drastically.  And I’m going to be honest, that’s really hard some days.  It’s especially hard on the days when the environment almost requires a level of primping that I just don’t have time for. I mean, when I’m out walking through a nearby campground with the kids, I fit right in!  Those camping moms who haven’t showered, or did their hair, or packed makeup?  Those are my peeps!  They’re confidently celebrating rustic and natural, and – gosh – I fit right in!

But when it’s date night with the hubby and I didn’t have a free moment to do my hair and makeup…  Or when we’re attending a wedding, and I have to wear the more practical, I’ll-be-chasing-after-children dress…  Or even when I’m out with a girlfriend, and I have to throw on a hat to cover my crazy hair.  In those moments, I fully realize that I am so engrossed in mom life right now that I have – like it or not – embodied the mom look.

But unlike the rustic, outdoorsy hikers and campers who are respected for their back-to-nature vibes, we moms are often seen as…. sad.  Frumpy.  Without any real accomplishment.  And it’s kind of like kicking a mom when she’s already down.

We aren’t flashy enough, pretty enough, accomplished enough, or whatever-else-it-is-that-we’re-supposed-to-be-doing enough.  Most of us don’t bring home money (or enough money).  We don’t drive fancy cars.  We don’t have board meetings while wearing smart suits and sipping over-priced lattes.

We just aren’t cool enough.

And I get it; nothing that I do is glamorous.  At all.  But what I do DOES matter to the children that I am raising.  And although it’s usually not riveting, exciting work, it is THE most important work.  That lego tower that I just helped my son build?  It might not be designs for a Boston skyscraper that will one day house hundreds of people.  But it did impact one life.  And I truly believe that just as God fearfully and wonderfully created each and every one of us, a moms impact on one life is an impact that can make this world a better place.

It matters.

One life at a time, we’re changing things for the better.  Because although a grain of sand may seem small and insignificant, when multiplied by thousands, it becomes the coastline which stretches as far as the eye can see.  And we moms, we’re responsible for our grains of sand, which will – in turn – become an army of love and compassion.

One day I’ll have time to paint my nails again… To do my hair.  To look myself over in the mirror and make sure that everything fits ‘just so’.  But while those moments of free time will one day come back, I will never get back these busy – yet precious – moments of molding my children’s lives.   My ‘job’ right now is to inspire them. Encourage them.  Let them know that they are beautiful creations of God and that they can do absolutely anything.  Right now, my mornings are filled with chubby feet dancing down hallways and bowls of cheerios scattered across the kitchen floor.  Skinned knees that need kissing, bad dreams that require hugs, temper tantrums that need guidance, and faith that needs building.

Those moments won’t ever come back.  I won’t ever again have this chance to pour into their lives.

This is where I find my purpose and fulfillment.  My determination to keep going, even though I might not look put together and perfect on the outside.  This world may never recognize – as trophies – the lines on a woman’s face, her gray hairs, the stretch marks, the often less-than-glamorous wardrobe she wears for the personal sacrifice that she willingly gives every single day.  But I know that my trophy is in heaven and in the lives of my children.

Don’t get me wrong, I am ALL for moms taking care of themselves, because we need to be filled in order to continuously fill our families.  We do need personal time.  We need pampering.  We need to feel human.  (I totally ended up leaving Sephora with some over-priced night cream that I’m hoping will do at least one of the five things it promises to accomplish).   😉

Do Not Attempt This At Home! ;)☕

And I love shopping just as much as the next woman and am already planning a bit of fall season retail therapy for next month…  😉  BUT I refuse to believe that this phase of life – the phase that oftentimes requires me to look a bit exhausted and thrown together – is less than.

Our children are worth it.  Everything else in this world is just stuff…  It’s glittery, shiny, eye-catching stuff that will only tear, rust, and fade away.  Magazines, movies, and even people will try to claim that money, fame, eye shadow, and the perfect pair of shoes is the key to success and happiness.  It’s how they try to measure someone’s worth.

But I know that my life possesses a beauty that can’t be bottled or sold on shelves.  Because I’m a mom.  And my babies are worth more than anything money could buy.  So on the busy days that it’s required of me, I’m going to hold my head up high and wear my mom look proudly!   🙂

No matter how old they get!