by Lilian Bakayou
Winter break is in full bloom and all five of my kids are at home, YAY… not! I love them to death, but having no routine and living in close quarters doesn’t make things easy. For the most part, I have well behaved kids. I work very hard as a mom to help them make good choices in their lives. It’s very exhausting, but I know my efforts will be worth it someday!
So far during break, my boys have been constantly teasing each other and wrestling until someone gets hurt. My mommy voice, which can be very loud, has been working overtime. In fact, my normal voice sounds a bit crackly and has reached a new normal-high. I’m not happy that I sound a bit like a man, but at least my kids are learning. Repeating rules, explaining why we don’t run in the house with scissors, or why we put permanent markers and crayons back in the locked cabinet does take a toll. Yes, disciplining all day long is overwhelming and frustrating, but it must be done. I try to put my smile on and do my best to move on with the day.
Today I needed to hit Costco. I invited a family over for dinner and I needed a few items. I always dread going to Costco, not because it’s busy or because I spend way too much money, but this time it’s because I had to take all five of my kids! I just don’t need any more looks or comments from strangers about my large family size. Not today - not when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I warned my kids during the car ride to behave. I just wanted to get in and out as soon as possible.
Things were going well. I was getting everything on my list. I was halfway done with no remarks or looks - awesome! I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, but there it was: my first strange look. A middle-aged woman noticed my family size. I can almost peer into her mind as she was counting the number of kids I had, but she didn’t notice my oldest straggling behind. The funny thing is that she didn’t even notice me looking at her. Oh wait… she did! My son ran up to me while calling out “MOM!” The lady’s eyes opened wider as she passed me. Oh well, I kept on going while trying to focus on my shopping list and trying to keep my kids on task. As I was passing the refrigerated aisle, I got noticed by yet another older. Good grief! She looked straight at me and asked, “Are these all your kids?” I, of course, claimed my kids. I do, after all, love them. She then said, “Congratulations, what an honor you have.” I was surprised by her lovely comment. I got emotional and had to fight back tears. I thanked her and told her I wished everyone had something nice to say about having a big family and she nodded her head and said, “You are very lucky.” It’s so rare to get a nice comment while I’m out in public with the whole family. I wanted to give her a hug, but I knew that wouldn’t set a good example to my kids - hugging strangers. I replied “thank you” and continued to walk. I allowed her sweet and encouraging words to fill my heart until I hit my tenth step and was stopped again by another older lady who asked, “Are all of these your kids?”
“Yes,” I replied again. She nodded her head and started to walk away saying “you have your hands full!” Really? You ruined my happy moment, old lady!
I finally finished my shopping and made it home. I was contemplating the rest of my evening. If only people would say nice things, smile or even give a helping hand to a mother who obviously has her hands full - how much better could this world be? My short-lived happy moment filled my heart with love and gave me energy to go on the rest of my day without feeling as overwhelmed. I want to share this story with you so that if you do find yourself in a similar situation, you may think about saying a nice word or offer a helping hand. That small gesture can possibly change a person for the better.