Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Luxury of Choice

At least twice during the past month, I went to the grocery store with eight children. Yep. That's right. Eight kids in the grocery store between the ages of 5 and 13. Sound crazy?

Well... yes. Unless you realize that it is much crazier for the momma to be at home with eight children and no food.

At the end of the trip, my oldest slams the back doors of our big purple van and says, "I don't know if they're exactly how you would put them. But they're in."

They are exactly where I want them. In the van, loaded. Because... you see... the youngest of the eight decided to run away in the store. He was following a couple of older children that had been given an assignment. That I do understand.

But, I called his name. And he didn't come. He didn't answer. He ignored.

I had to go to him. He didn't run fast or far. I caught up to him quickly and held his hand. He flopped on the floor.  He did not want to walk. Which he expressed loudly. I called his name. He still didn't answer me. So I calmly finished the grocery order.

"Get a bag of apples." "Get four cans of tomato soup." I said to the others.

Both instructions were executed smoothly. No delay. No complaint. We were at the end of the list. So the olders walked the cart to the check-out line. I walked with the disobedient to the line. They put the groceries on the conveyor belt.

Meanwhile I held the disobedient's hand. He flopped. I lifted. He sat down. I held on gently but firmly, not letting go of his hand the whole time.  He moved this way and that trying to be released from my hand.

He kept expressing "I don't want to." Rather loudly. Yes, people looked. I didn't raise my voice. I stayed calm.

I handed my wallet to my oldest. "Pay for the food, please." I could trust him to pay correctly and get the right change. I handed my keys to one daughter and asked both of them to walk to the van and have it open and ready. They did.

I held the disobedient's hand. He fussed and wrestled. Even as I type this, my back aches just a little bit as I think about it.

Eventually we are all back at the van. Groceries loaded. A disobedient five-year-old also buckled into his seat. I hold his hand while he screams. And that's when my son had told me that the groceries may not be where I want them but they're in.

Who would care about such a thing? About exactly where all of the groceries were loaded?

Of course they are exactly where I want them. Paid for and loaded. I needed help. Help the other seven gave to me that I am so thankful to have. I had no room to care about how the groceries were loaded into the back of the van.

I did not have the luxury of being so particular.

I needed to discipline. Stay calm. So thankful that they were able to get the groceries paid for and loaded into the car and not to have to abandon them in the store until a later time. So thankful that I would not be a momma at home with eight children and no food.

Who would care about such a thing? About exactly where all of the groceries were loaded? was me. You know, me, the Queen of the Just So. The one that is usually saying, with a big sigh, "Don't you know that you should put the cold stuff by the milk. "And "Why are you putting that there?" Fussing all of my help away.

When I wasn't desparate for help. When I wasn't maxed to the utmost to meet the basic needs of ten people, I had the luxury of choice, of time, of being paricular about the just so.

That day, I really didn't care how the groceries were in. I grasped the bigger vision. I needed their help, however they could give it to me. And I was grateful.

I know that in my head all of the time. It doesn't really matter how.

But...ohhhhh...the luxury of the Just So. The ruining of the offer of help from my children as I sigh and fuss about so many things that are really no big deal.

As things mellow at my house, since there are only five children here now, may I not go back to the land of Just So a mother, I have spent way too much time there.

It took a moment to say yes to a phone call. Yes to four more children in my house. Yes to the help as it was offered. 

Now, no matter how many people live here, may I continue to live in the moment of being grateful that the groceries are loaded, no matter how it is done.

* * *
Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose. 


  1. Funny how the Lord teaches us things about ourselves in the middle of situations like that. I just heard a great quote related to this: God may be using that (difficult) person to bring out the worst in us just to bring out the worst in us, to refine us and humble us. Still praying for you, my friend.

  2. Thanks for sharing a beautiful lesson,

  3. I love this. I am a Just So person too, but I'm trying to be a "recovering" Just So person by God's grace.

  4. First, thanks for stopping by my 'place'. I appreciated your comments. As a teacher (at a rural high school in the foothills of the Appalachian mts.) I see both extremes: the mamas who are up in a teacher's face blaming the teacher instead of holding her child accountable, to the one who repeatedly misses IEP (individual ed. programs) for her child or tells the principal, she can't make her son come to school, or whose child has test anxiety but she won't confront the teacher who only gives grades for tests and is certain this is the new and best way to go for all of us. (I disagree wholeheartedly.)
    There is a middle ground of advocacy for one's child and God can show us that ground if we ask and listen. Thankfully my mom listened and then passed on the lesson for me. I see that my own children have learned it also as they raise their children (and I'm thankful for that--it's always nice to see you did something right as a mother!).:>)

    I went back through some of your posts and truly enjoyed them. You have a wonderful, slightly zany perspective and a gift with words. I esp. liked the "How can I cool the chicken. . .?" Boy, could I relate to that!

    This one about the grocery store spoke volumes to me. I am much better at not being 'Just so' with my grandchildren. I would say that relinguishing that attitude is probably one of the best gifts we can give our kids (and our students). They learn to think outside the box and gain confidence in doing so. They learn responsibility, creativity, and faith in their abilities.
    They grow a bit more comfortable in their 'own skin'.
    Wonderful, insightful story.

  5. Oh, one more thing: sometimes advocacy is with one's own family. Example: me standing up for my daughter who my mother-in-law wanted to bend to her will and way.(Oddly, my daughter had to take a stand against her mother-in-law who kept saying how A. was not as bright as her brother---the child was not quite a yr. old.)

  6. okay, well, you know i love you right? your heart, it bleeds Christ, and it's so beautiful. thank you for doing this incredible thing. for not getting hung up on the details. for being compassion, incarnate. bless you.


Thanks for being part of the conversation...I love hearing from you. Kathleen

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