For many years, decades even, my main mantra as I exit the house has been- Do Not draw attention to yourself. This includes but is not limited to: not dressing too flashy OR too dumpy. I like that sweet spot of just average enough to blend completely in. I don’t feel average on the inside, I just want to keep my hand to myself, until I choose to reveal it (that’s a poker reference. Probably. I’ve never played). I’m a secret special snowflake. That’s why I used to wear mismatched socks throughout my middle school to college years. It’s because I knew I was different and special but kept it to myself, underneath my flair jeans. (To go off on a tangent here, I’m not sure what made me quit mismatching my socks. Especially because when I joined the work force it was as an elementary school teacher, a profession in which it would be perfectly acceptable to mismatch ones socks, particularly thematically which is what I did. “Have you seen Mrs. P’s socks? Palm trees AND flamingos! She’s sooo cool!” Doing this as a high school teacher would’ve been riskier. The kids might’ve mused that I am “sad” and “use my free time to paint portraits of my cats”).
But back to the task at hand, which is letting you know, that against any desire of mine, I have become a public spectacle. My ideal scenario is as follows: I am walking by you. Your eyes glaze over me, a non entity. I barely register to you the way you would pass a telephone pole or street sign*. Now that I have added that magical 4th baby, people stop. Occasionally gawk. Maybe a titter erupts. Sometimes they call out to me from across the street- “Dang that’s a lot of kids lady!” I’m not writing this post out of anger at people commenting on the sheer volume of toddlers. I’m not offended. I’m just mad that I can’t be a lamp post anymore. To the people alarmed by me in public, I didn’t expect this either. I’m JUST as surprised as you and I live it everyday.
I feel that I have become part of some spectator sport. A three ring circus even. Should I get a top hat? “Gather round everyone, they do tricks… this one roars, and the baby has a beard!” Every time a child refuses to get up from the sidewalk- every time one of them… well it’s mostly them collapsing and refusing to move on the sidewalk. It makes me wish I had a giant broom and dustpan. And I could sweep them all up, hop in a tiny clown car (all 5 of us) and drive away. The horn would be a fart noise, just for sheets and giggles.
I am no longer hidden. And not only that, but I’m helpless. I used to run a classroom, but my 4 and 2 year old have rendered me aghast. With questions racing through my head like “Why are you being so bad?” And “Why am I such an ineffective mother?” And “How do I force my children to bend to my will so everyone thinks I am amazing and not a hot mess?” I am helpless, but not hopeless. Because I am helpless before a merciful Savior.
How will I use my platform? Eyes are watching me now. Will I represent my Father well? Not all the time. I’ve been known to be self serving and petty. I’ve also been known to give my children the lizard eye.
Romans 12:12 says Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. And it may seem extreme to use the low level disobedience of my children as an example as tribulation, but often the repeated subversion of my authority over them makes me feel…
You guys get it. So how do I function when walking down that sidewalk facing disobedience… again? I can process my feelings of helplessness before a Father who looks at us and does not balk but loves us. I can cry out for help. Beyond that I can pray for my children’s hearts to be restored to Him. I can hope because I believe that God is good, and though this suffering is inconvenient- it sure can be used by God for good. I can hope because God loves my children more than I do and I can trust and implore Him on their behalf. And then I can say “Maisy, I’m sorry I gave you the blazing lizard eye. I lost all control when you fell to the ground in front of a neighbor and began to writhe like salted slug. For no other reason than for that you could”
*I’m an intuitive, not a sensor. It’s very possible that sensors are balking and thinking- “Wait, Kaley, do you not notice street signs?” and the answer is no. Hell to the naw. I do not know the names of any roads. Sometimes not even the road I live on. In my defense I’ve lived on seven different streets in the past ten years. I’m kind of proud of how long this asterisked tangent went.