I got one of those looks today – the head-shaking, eye-rolling, pursed-lips looks of disbelief that say – without actually needing to say a word at all – something like, “The irresponsibility of people – having children. (Shudder.) And the nerve – bringing those children out in a public place. You disgust me.”
While I understand that not every place is a place where children belong (you won’t catch me bringing my brood into a fancy restaurant or obliviously letting a baby cry in a movie theater) Wal Mart seems to me pretty fair game. It’s a safe zone for shopping with kids in tow because, in general, those hoping to find well groomed, perfectly behaved, respectable people . . . know to shop elsewhere. Whole Foods maybe? But Wal Mart? Live and let live, people. Live and let live.
Still, I suppose, even at Wal Mart, we deserved that look – my three children and I -- because, while no one was yelling, no one was running, and no one was throwing food, our cart was directly in front of the the bags of ice! Directly. In. Front.
We were standing there – bagged groceries in tow -- waiting for Abe and Goldie to catch up to us so we could drive ice cream home to a sick little Daisy (I dare say we would not have escaped with just a look of utter disdain had this particular individual known that the three children with me were a mere half of the terrors I had carelessly introduced into this world).
So, we were blocking his path. . . . And, Jesse was fiddling with the door handle a bit. The look was wholly understandable. Heaven knows savages like us wouldn’t have even known how to respond to a simple, “Excuse me.”
Still, my hackles raised – as they generally do when anyone looks at my children with anything other than adoration; and my mind began storming up responses about this man’s classy behavior. I wanted to angrily ask him if he would prefer we leave the baby-making in this country to the uneducated and ignorant. I wanted to demand what was so horribly offensive about a mom who is providing financially, educationally, emotionally and spiritually for her children. I wanted his thanks for the tiny little future benefits to society I was raising. Society members who will -- heaven help us all -- smile and hold doors for mom’s with grocery carts laden with children.
But that was defensive, angry me. As we headed out into the parking lot – Penny showing me how she could skip, Abe pulling bags of groceries out of the cart and helpfully asking me if I wanted them in the bed of the truck or not, Goldie excitedly ripping her tiny new Lego figure open, Jesse scrambling to get the roll of bubble tape he had dropped, and Anders, well, looking absolutely darling as usual – I realized I didn’t actually care in the least that someone was unhappy with my life.
I didn’t need to justify anything to anyone because, truth be known, my life could be absolutely irresponsible. It could be ridiculous. It could be utterly indecent. . . . And it wouldn’t in any way change the fact that I love it. I unabashedly adore it.
It’s shameful I suppose to take so much joy in an existence that (apparently) causes others so much misery and distress. But there it is. My husband is my favorite person in the universe. I have a house full of tiny kids. Lots of them. (Gasp.) And I like them so much I might even have another. It’s pretty great.
I know. Shameless. All of them. Us. Shameless. Horribly . . . wonderfully . . . shameless.