I've been feeling bold lately. This is my last week of maternity leave and I want to make the most of it. Carpe diem my friends! And in my current world, bold adventures usually come in the form of ... taking my kids on errands. I know what you're thinking, "Whoa, Janine, might want to rein it in there!" Dropping by the post office with an 18 month old and a 3 week old may not sound like a big deal, but you try standing in line, keeping your toddler within a 1 foot radius, while rocking an upset baby in her carseat with one foot, and shoving a package along the floor with the other. After a few minutes of considering my situation, the man in front of me let me go ahead of him. Nice guy!
And that was just with two kids. Last night I did something I thought I'd never venture to do on my own for years - took all three kids out shopping by myself. And not just any old shopping - Wal-Mart. Man, I hate that store. But I had a $5 gift card to burn, and Jon has been in sunny Florida enjoying his water-views from his king-sized bed where he can sleep without a baby waking him up every few hours while the rest of us have been in cold, rainy Maryland watching "Baby Signing Time" for the gazillionth time ... I just had to get out of the house! So I strapped Julia to me in the carrier and put the boys in a two-seater cart - those huge carts that are almost impossible to maneuver under typical situations but made even more difficult by the fact that Wal-Mart is ALWAYS crowded. (Okay, this was only my second trip there but it's been crowded both times!!). Anyway, things were going well. The boys were holding up, Julia was sleeping, no one was crying, and the crowds parted when they saw me pushing down the aisles. Which was often, because I don't know this store and I kept having to perfect my 3-point turn in the middle of the aisle after I realized I forgot something in the other direction... We had two items left on our list when big-brother Jack decided to give Jude a hand and unbuckle his seat belt, right about the same time I pushed the cart forward and *splat* poor little Jude fell out of the cart face-first on the cement floor. When I helped him up there was blood gushing out of his lip and splattering on the floor. Of course, he was screaming and just wanted to be held and I had the baby attached to me, and that just made him more upset. We were quite a sight.
After he calmed down he was too scared to return to the cart (I don't blame him), so instead he opted to hold my left hand, while I steered the beast of a cart carrying my other son with my right, all with a baby hanging off my chest. And we walked the entire way through the store like this. Like I said, people cleared the aisles when they saw me coming.
So these past few days I've realized the power of my sympathetic situation. I've had more people open doors, help me with my bags, hold my child's hand across the parking lot, etc. this past week than I ever had before.
Of course, not everyone is sympathetic. Some people just look at me like I'm crazy, or mumble something about my "hands being full", or growl when a small child is blocking their way down the aisle. Oh, and then there was the funny incident at Goodwill this week. I'm pushing a stroller with one hand, lugging my goodies with the other, and attempting to use my free leg and hip to keep Jude from escaping the check-out line, when I spot $2 lying on the floor. I pick it up and ask the lady in front of me, who had just finished checking out, if it was her's. "No," she says, "but I'll take it anyway." And she took it out of my hand and shoved it in her wallet. True story. Apparently not everyone is moved by the "overwhelmed mama" appearance.
As awkward as being cheated out of $2 was, I could smile on the inside because occupying the hip that Jude wasn't was a Zojirushi bread machine, IN THE BOX, for $19.99. This is my dream bread machine, the one that all my favorite bloggers use. The one that I wanted to put on my Christmas list for the past 2 years but didn't feel right about asking for a $230 kitchen appliance. And there it was, sitting on the shelf at Goodwill for less than $20. I almost giggled out loud. I scooped that thing up and guarded it with my life until we reached the car.
And I smiled for the rest of the day knowing that God is watching out for me. He keeps my kids from running out into the street when I'm busy loading and unloading a carseat. He protects my purse when I have to suddenly leave the cart and chase a toddler down the aisle. He provides a parking spot right next to the cart return. He ensures that there are big, tough kids in the Chick-Fil-A playplace so that I can nurse the baby without having to worry about chasing my 3 year old up the slide after he's pushed someone. And He helps me realize all this by arranging for the bread-machine-I-never-though-I'd-own to happen to be on the shelf the one day I visit the thrift store.
It's been a tough week. My hands have been full, which is why there are no pictures. (Not a one. Apparently I didn't have a chance to pick up my camera since Sunday.) And my stomach churns every time I think about managing my current load plus starting back to work on Monday. But as I sit here enjoying my warm, fresh-baked bread I know that He's got my back. If His eye is on the sparrow then I certainly know He's watching over this mama and her little ones. I can't do it alone, but thankfully I don't have to.