Yesterday as I pushed my double stroller with the 5-month old scooter pies up the sidewalk to the YMCA, flanked on either side by Baby Bean and Banana Cream Pie (who are 2 and 4, but look the same size. People have started asking me if they are twins, too)
An older Y patron said to me something I’ve heard eleventy-billion times since I got brave enough to start leaving the house with the four baby pies.
“You sure do have your hands full. You sure are busy.”
Usually I just nod and smile, or maybe add a “yep,” before continuing to press forward to my goal. (Little tip: moms of twins are generally running late to whatever it is they wanted to be to. If they are also chasing a toddler, they don’t usually have time to stop and answer your well-meant questions. They’ve answered these same questions so many times for so many strangers, the time investment isn’t worth it any more–especially if the toddler might run into the street/parking lot at any moment. )
But today Baby Bean was holding onto the stroller handle to help me. And suddenly I knew what the perfect response to this comment was. So I looked that old guy right in the eye-ball and said,
“I do have my hands full, and I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.”
And I meant it.
He said, “You’re right, and it’s a good thing you are young enough to do it.”
I didn’t tell him that I’m almost 40. That would have baked his brain. I don’t look my age (woohoo). Most people still think I’m in my twenties. I know, 40 isn’t as old as I thought it was back when I was 17. But it isn’t 28, and it isn’t even 35. Most people don’t expect a mom of 4 kids 4 years old and younger to be over 32ish. Heck, I didn’t expect to have 4 preschoolers at this stage of my life. I’ve been in the enviable position of having my youngest child be 3 years old and all the other kids in school.
My house was so clean and orderly that year.
I never planned to have so many kids so close together. (Until Banana Cream Pie’s birthday in December, I had 4 kids 3-and-under.). I didn’t do it when I was a young mom.
But God had a plan for me different than my plan.
It’s been scary. It’s been overwhelming. And I don’t deny that sometimes I feel a little spark of something like envy when my friends talk about all the projects they get done while their one remaining child at home takes his nap.
But it’s also been miraculous, joyful, amazing, and incredible. I’ve learned a lot.
Also, apparently I’ve become patient. That’s the number 2 most frequent comment I get from friends and strangers.
“Wow, you are so patient.”
“I could not be as patient as you.”
“You have so much more patience than I do, that’s why you have 9 kids. I didn’t have that much patience. I stopped after 2 (or 4) kids.”
Here’s the thing: what they are calling “patience” is just me having a deeper understanding than I used to have of what is important and what is less important.
And when I say deeper, I mean DEEEEEEEPER.
Dark side of the moon and back again deep.
So that I can look at a puddle of milk and Cheerios on the floor and say, “meh. Oh well. Let’s clean it up.”
I’m not saying I always keep my cool. There are still days when I close my eyes and turn my face to the sky and silently ask, “Why is this so hard?” There are days I grouch at my kids.
But I quickly realize how truly blessed I am.
In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom beautifully explains how God gives us the strength we need when we need it, and not before.
When I only had 2 children, I did not have the patience or understanding for 9 children. I did not have it when I had 6 children. I did not have that until I had 9 children.
Don’t limit God’s plan for you because you don’t think that you have the patience or the skills or the whatever you lack to do the job.
The Lord gives us the strength we need when we actually need it and not before. Sometimes it’s after–long after–we thought we needed it. But He knows we are capable of so much more than we think we are.
Psalms 32:7 Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.
1Nephi 3:7 … I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
Ether 12:27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.