Tuesday, February 26, 2013

So Good, So Bad

Oh you guys. We just got through the worst week of the year. That post I wrote about Monday being awful? That was just the tip of the iceberg. Wednesday was...wow. Everyone got the tummy bug except Brian and Bobby.

But I'm going to skip the gory details and instead just tell you that we are all now healthy and our house has been scrubbed and scoured from top to bottom and then three times over again.

Instead let's talk about going out in public with four children.

We have a tradition on Saturday mornings. Brian and I always get the good coffee from the coffee shop instead of making it at home and the kids, provided they had good behavior the night before, get some sort of breakfast treat; donuts, rolls, or the like.

Typically Brian and a few of the kids go out and pick up the goods and then we all enjoy at home. But this last Saturday we decided we were all in desperate need of a little time away from the confines of these four walls.

So we ventured out as a family. And, because we were really up for a challenge, we went to a very popular cafe right in the heart of a busy retail area of St. Paul. Parking our bus of a vehicle would be a challenge. Finding a table suitable for all six of us would be a challenge. And warding off any major meltdowns would probably be the biggest challenge of all.
The kids were fantastic.  Nearby patrons even commented.  At one point we crossed all of our little ducks at a very busy intersection.  William and Lucy were each holding a full cup of hot chocolate.  No one spilled a drop and they even avoided the huge puddles at the end of each curb.  We loaded everyone back in the car and Brian and I patted each other on the backs.  We were doing something right.

Did you see that couple that had the one child who was totaling melting down?  Not our four kids!  We're awesome!

And then...and then...

God humbled us to our knees.

We all went to church on Sunday.

We go to church every single Sunday but we don't always all go at the same time.  Many times we split it up and take one or two of the big kids with us.  But we try to make it a priority to go as a family at least once a month.  Once we're past this season of too many babies and toddlers this will be the norm.

William and Lucy have arrived at an age where they are both very good in church.  Except when we go as a family.  What is this phenomenon?!  It drives me crazy.  At the exact moment I'm dealing with one of the babies and I need them to just be on autopilot and expect them to carry themselves in an acceptable manner is the exact moment I spy, out of the corner of my eye, Lucy snatching up every single pamphlet in the pew and demolishing them with some stray pencil she found on the floor.

Then there's William who, in the loudest voice, is asking me what's for dinner that night.  I'm shushing him and bounce rocking the baby at the same time and it's like he can sense my desperation and just keeps tugging.  Just tell me, Mom!  Just tell me really quick!  Then I squeeze his arm, probably a little too tight, to let him know I mean business and he collapses at the perceived pain making a total spectacle for all those in the pews behind us to enjoy.  They're all ready to speed dial Child Protective Services after mass because it is totally obvious based on this little boy's reaction that he is abused all the time.

And then Bobby loads his pants so I have to leave Brian by himself to play goalie for all three kids throughout the homily.

And when it's time for the consecration, the most sacred part of the mass, is it the kneeling that cues Katherine to really turn it up a couple notches?

After we had received communion I took Katherine to the back of the church to let her walk around.  Keeping a 16-month-old contained is only fair for so long.  But somehow the other kids thought this was their signal to depart as well and with Brian too occupied in keeping Bobby content to notice, they made their exit.  So then I had all three of them stomping around back there.

Oh lord.  It was total mayhem.  And believe you me, they heard about it once we were in the privacy of our own vehicle.

It isn't like this every Sunday.  It isn't like this very often.  But when it is, it just feels awful to have every eye on you.

It was a nice reminder to me to be gentle about passing judgment on other kids' behavior I see in public.  We've all been there at one time or another.

My good friend Kali put it best when she said, "At this stage in life, God just expects you to show up."  Everything else is extra credit.

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