Today my son and I went and did the family grocery shopping. We had several stops to make and one of the stops included Walmart. As we came out of Walmart, I noticed a young mom from our church getting her four little children out of her vehicle. Her children are six years old and under. She loaded the baby on her hip, held the almost 2 year old by the hand and had the two *older* children walking close to her. It took me back in time just 13 short years ago, when I had 5 children under 8 years old.
Going to Walmart was a chore. I would park by the outside buggy corral. and leave the children in the car to go get a cart. I would bring the cart to the car and load the children in. I remember well leaning my pregnant belly over the seats and unbuckling little ones, releasing them from their car seats. The infant car seat would go on the front of the cart. The 2 year old would go in the back of the cart. The 4 year old would either hang on to the cart (with strict instructions not to let go) or hang on to the side of my skirt. The 6 year old was instructed to do the same...only on the other side. The 8 year old was on his own, under my watchful eye. Parking lots and children always worried me.
The main thing I dreaded was bathroom breaks. My boys were too young in my opinion to go into the mens bathroom alone, unchaperoned. So they all had to come into the ladies with me. I would take baby (in car seat) 2 yo, and 4 yo into the big stall with me. I can remember saying things like:
Those were good days.
HEY DON'T LOOK UNDER THERE!!!! (meaning don't look under the panel into the next stall)
Don't touch anything!
Don't lick your shoe!
It was a chore just to go to the bathroom. Now days I have big children to help with little children and things don't seem so hard or so stressful. I've mellowed out over the years and the small stuff like that doesn't bother me too much anymore.
As I watched the young mom, I thought of my older children when they were my younger children. There was a time back then when I could hardly wait for bed time because I longed for quiet. But in the year of 96-97 that changed. The house we lived in was small and very drafty. We curtained off several rooms and the children and I spent lots of time snuggled in the living room with cozy blankets keeping warm. The winter was cold that year.I was pregnant with our 6th child. I spent a lot of time reading aloud to the children. Good read aloud books like, Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, by Margaret Sidney. One of my favorite memories is during the reading of Where the Red Fern Grows, looking up and seeing my 2 oldest with tears in their eyes because the second dog... Little Ann had died, she didn't want to live with out Old Dan. (getting a lump in the throat myself) We didn't have a TV. Reading was a good way to pass the evening. During that year I began to enjoy the close quarters with my children and I no longer lived for bed time.
These days I enjoy my littles much more and enjoy the help I have from my older children. I wouldn't trade those days back then for anything though and I would do it all again. When I look back and see how God has been faithful to the promise in his Word, that he shall gently lead those that are with young...Isaiah 40:11, I smile. Things have not always been easy. Raising teenagers into adults is a whole new world. There have been some issues that I wondered if we would ever get through, and I will probably get there again, but we did get through! God is faithful. Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.
All that to say, I hope that young mom knows the gold mine she has in her possession. I hope she is enjoying her children to the fullest. What a blessing she was to me today, walking into Walmart with her little children.