Too many feet!

Another first happened to me at church yesterday.

I'm unpacking the kids from the van on-time-ish, and the newly-4-year-old comes to the door barefoot.

I say to him, "Go get your shoes!"

Then, all very quickly, I think, "What if his shoes are not lying on the floor back there? Did I ever see shoes on his feet today? Uh, nope. I know that I said 'Put your socks and shoes on.' But, man, what a newbie mistake to not check!"

So, after all the quick thoughts, I said, "Did you ever put them on?" He looked me in the eye and said simply, "No." His voice had a hint of, "Huh. That would have been a good idea," in it.

I couldn't help myself. I asked him why. His answer was something like, "Well, you told me to get into the van." Ah, well, yes. That makes perfect sense. Because there were many things I told him to do this morning, and, well, he missed one. It seems like an important one to me, but, apparently not to him.

What could I do at this point? My mind quickly flipped through my available options: 1. Take everyone home. 2. Leave a few kids and take him and the baby home. 3. Let him go to church barefoot and not miss church, and not miss the music section.

I should pause to say that, in the 6 months that Baby Girl has been alive I've made it to church approximately 65% of the time. And of those, I've been to the music section of service exactly 3 times. I should also add that I really love the music section. Music changes me. The sermons are amazing, and I learn from them, but I really, really need that time of praise. I married a music pastor, for crying out loud!

I told the kid to go to class and he couldn't play outside afterwards. 

I'm hoping that this is the kind of mom I'm becoming. Honestly. To my kid: You didn't listen to me? Ok, well, that doesn't necessarily mean that all of my plans change (although, of course, it might). It doesn't mean that I'm going to lose my cool and yell at you about it. It also doesn't mean that I'm going to internally berate myself for not checking - something that would have happened, without fail, in the past.

So, this was the first time I took a (walking) kid to church with no shoes. (I gave up on shoes for non-walkers 3 kids ago.) But it was also another first.

This time, I evaluated the situation, made a decision, and, mostly, moved on. I quivered a little as certain people saw him or brought attention to the situation. But, I laughed. And this time, it wasn't just for their benefit. Oh, how many times I've laughed to hide my self-loathing. Not so much this time, although I could feel it hiding below the surface, like an enemy submarine waiting to torpedo my whole  self. I just laughed and said, "Yup. I forgot to check that he actually put them on when I told him to! Rookie mistake!" And, internally, instead of telling myself what a horrible mother that made me, I said, "This kind of thing could only happen to a mom of at least 3 kids! There are just too many feet to check!"

I'm learning to roll with the punches. I'm starting to wonder if that's why God gave me 5 kids. Perhaps I was just so stubborn that I wouldn't bend in the wind with fewer kids - I just kept breaking. With each new kid, I couldn't fathom how I was going to stand in the storms they would inevitably bring. I see, now, that it's not about being strong enough. It's more about being flexible enough. That includes being flexible enough to not fit into what I and others have thought or said were the necessary things to making a good mom - like shoes at church, even! Even more, to be ok with not fitting that mold. Maybe, what will make me a good mom is instead my response to him, and to me, a mixture of grace and natural consequences. I'm still figuring this whole thing out, but being flexible enough is so much easier than being strong enough.


jenna said...

Flexibility coupled with self-love, is ultimately what makes or brakes my day. Natural consequences are awesome, really! I'm glad you were able to "bend with the wind", my friend! :}

Beth at Five Kids Is A Lot Of Kids said...

Love this post!

Love that you're finding opportunities to be Love - not despite imperfection, but BECAUSE of imperfection. And that you're being Love to your kids AND to you.

Beautiful work, mama.

Christine said...

You're my new friend. :) I only have three kids, but I'm a recovering perfectionist trying to get foster care certified to have 5. I went through my, "Why me?" and, "I can't do anything right." when I got pregnant with my third (mine are now 4,6, and 8.) That first year he had colic and I had postpartum depression. I totally understand where you're coming from. When I only had two kids who were not quite 1 and 3 we visited a church and thought the 3 y.o. had shoes in the car (she didn't). The church wouldn't let her in without them. She cried.

K Newman said...

Awwwww. I'm so glad I just got a few chuckles with my barefoot boy! Yay for new friends! :) Glad to meet you!

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