I'm certain I've mentioned a time or twelve of the remarks people feel compelled to utter when I take my children out for whatever reason.
"Are they all yours?"
"You must have your hands full!"
"You know what causes that, don't you?"
And my all time favorite... "Do they all have the same Daddy?"
(If I blogged about it, I can't find it to link to that story, but some daft soul actually asked that in front of all of my kids one time.)
Over the years, I've vacillated between snarky remarks and sweet smiles when these people open their mouths. And I'm just here to tell you, we NEVER go out as a family that somebody doesn't say something. To be fair, it's not always comments we consider to be 'not exactly a soup question'. We often garner encouragement from strangers.
Now, for the most part, I just ignore the words that may or may not be meant as harmful, but should never be said, especially in front of my kids. They shouldn't have to carry that. I've explained to them that to some people, our family is an oddity and people feel drawn to comment on things that are different from that persons normal. I've also pointedly talked to my kids about employing the THINK method for every word that comes out of their mouth.
All of that to preface what a blessing yesterday was to me.
We had errands to run. Quick ins and outs to several different stores. These are the kinds of errands I generally save for when I can go by myself and not have to make everyone miserable with the details of how some of the necessary things in our lives get done. Costco, Kohls, Target, post office, a doctors office, and quick run to a friends house to pick something up. Doing these errands by myself is irratating. Hauling all my people who'd rather be playing outside to do it with me?
It was a recipe for disaster.
Oh, and I needed to do it and be home by 2pm.
I was praying hard from the minute I realized we would have to do this crazy day. I knew nobody would be thrilled and I also knew that somebody out there in the great big world would walk up to me and need a filter shoved in their mouth so their surprise at me with my five kiddos didn't spill out in awkward ways.
Y'all. God is big. (I know, duh, right?) But He was in the details yesterday. My day could have gone south easily with just one misplaced comment. Because those comments really hurt my kids sometimes, and nothing makes a mama bear mad like her kids being hurt by an adult who should know better.
We had not even one conversation with anyone about how many of us there were. Not. One. Single. Time.
But better than that, in all three of the large stores we went into, we were delayed in our errand running by some VERY cool person who wanted to talk to us. At Costco, an older couple gave us nearly 20 minutes of their time playing a 'trick' on my two older kids that was actually a clever way to help them understand cardinal and ordinal numbers.
I mean, when does THAT ever happen? They stood there with their worn out bodies and stooped shoulders and smiled and laughed and chatted with the kids. They listened to them and even managed to sneak in a math lesson before receiving hugs and blown kisses as they left.
It was magical.
In another store, a lady marched right over to me with a no non-sense look on her face and told me how very lucky I was. I grinned and agreed, because she was spot on.
I know that God was adding a heaping dose of blessing to my day through the words and actions of complete strangers. It was palpable and awesome (as in it left me full of awe, not just awesome the way we tend to throw that word around so frequently).
In the spirit of the season of thankfulness, I am very thankful for the yesterday I was given. It was balm to a stressed mama's soul.
It was fun to get to hear the kids excitement over these exchanges. Instead of being confused, they felt of worth. I think even they expect less-than-optimal comments when we go out, and so this wasn't just a blessing to me, but to my babies as well.
When I asked what their favorite part of the day was (a question I simply don't ask on the rare occasion of days like yesterday), they each had something positive to say about our adventure and someone we'd 'met' during the morning.
It was a fantastic opportunity to share with them the power of words. And it just felt good to all of us to have been the recipients of so many kindnesses.
Pleasant words are like honey. They are sweet to the spirit and bring healing to the body.
Proverbs 16:24 (NIRV)