As I walked into the grocery store today, I saw the raised eyebrows. I met her gaze - a put together woman in her mid-thirties. I saw the look on her face. She was glad she wasn’t me. Her eyes darted from the cart to the children walking behind it. I could practically hear her counting. My two year old (who looks like a 1 year old) was crying in the cart because she hates all baby-moving vehicles. A 5 month old baby was peering out from a baby carrier strapped to my side. Three kids that all look to be about the same age followed along behind with giggles and constant chattering about what kind of cookie they were going to ask for at the bakery. I met her gaze and smiled and she quickly looked away. I wondered what it is about multiple children that people so look down upon? The stares make you feel a little like a crazy old lady with 15 cats. Except I know I’m not crazy and these little people are not cats. (Although, I will say, if you tried to herd them you might find some similarities.) I looked at my children – two planned biological kids, one perfect little surprise, two former orphans now permanently daughters. I can’t imagine life without any of them.
I felt bad for that lady. Sad for how much she is missing. As we wandered the aisles searching for foods that are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and milk free (um, so basically we buy bananas) I was overwhelmed at the children I’m so blessed to have. Children that call out things like “Hey mom, do pickles have gluten in them??” while they search for foods their sister can eat. Kids that say “I’ll pick you up if you want me to” and then proceed to carry a sibling that is basically the same size as them down several aisles. Kids that stand together while I stop to find paper towels and clean up spit up from their brother. Kids that ask for every treat they see and call out things like “MOM! Water balloons!!!!” as if it’s the best thing in all the world. Kids that make mistakes and kids that love like crazy. Kids that would have spent their lives in a crib. Kids that are only alive by the grace of God. Kids that had nothing, and now ask for things they never could have dreamed of. My heart is overflowing. My life is perfect.
As I walk to the checkout line and hear the inevitable “Wow, your hands are full!” I just smile and say “Yes ma’am” because I’d rather have them full than empty. I don’t know what that lady so full of judgement has. Maybe she has dinner parties and nights out. Maybe she has an actual wardrobe. Maybe she has time for herself. Maybe she has less doctors appointments, less mess to clean up, less meals to cook, less chaos. I don’t know. Obviously, not everyone who has fewer kids has less happiness but in this case, I could tell from the look in her eyes, a look of shock and almost distain, that she has less of this awesome kind of love. And so today I’ve been almost haunted by her face and I hope that one day, her hands can be as full as mine.