Being the youngest of 5 kids meant I sought after attention in order to be noticed and feel included. When I was born, some of my brothers were hitting their teen years, so there were many capable hands on deck to help look after me. My mom said every time I wanted to be picked up, I’d say, “eh eh” and someone would come to my rescue and carry me around. It’s not a surprise that I was a late walker.
With that kind of start in life, I naturally enjoyed being the centre of attention. From an early age, I got up in front of crowds to sing or dance (there is a video tape out there somewhere of me tap dancing at my Opa and Oma’s 50th anniversary. It was a huge hit with the Dutch crowd). In high school, I had experiences in public speaking and singing solos. I didn’t mind the spot light one bit! I soaked in all that attention.
Today I’m in a different kind of spotlight and I’m a lot more uncomfortable being in it. A trip to the grocery store with 4 kids in tow (one is at school), ages 4,3 and two 1-year-olds, is a sight to see. I get noticed. By everyone. I mean, my shopping cart is all kids. I have to squeeze cheese and milk and veggies in and around the kids, being sure to keep certain items away from grabby little fingers who chomp on everything in sight. Although the kids are a spectacle, I’m sure I’m not much better. I rarely look at myself before I go out the door. I just make sure I’m fully dressed and have a wallet and keys and snacks for the kids. I haven’t showered in days, there’s not a drop of make up on my face, and I have who-knows-what smeared on my clothes. But I made it to the store! In one piece!
So, as you can imagine, people notice my entourage. Whether it is a smile from a grandmother who identifies with how I must be feeling or a gaping stare by an elderly gentlemen who has to make several takes to make sense of what he is seeing; I am detected instantly. Often people look with admiration and I always get the comment, “you have your hands full.” Yes, yes I do. But I’ve also heard comments from people such as, “she’s going to be worn out early” or “I’m glad I don’t have to pay for that grocery bill.” These comments makes me uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my kids and I’m proud of how they behave in the store (most of the time), but comments such as these feel like I’m being mocked or ridiculed for having so many children. This hurts a little. It makes me feel embarrassed. In these moments, I wish I wasn’t so visible.
I know having a large family is not the norm. I could go on and on about why I love my family, but I’ll save that for another post. For now, I’m trying to feel proud to walk into the store with my kids and to keep my head up high. That no matter how stressed I feel at the moment, I still have a smile on my face and I can talk pleasantly to my kids. I think I have an amazing opportunity to show the world that kids are a blessing and I don’t resent having them. I enjoy being with them, even at the store. Ha ha. I’m still working on that one.
Although I wish to be invisible these days out in the general public, I am so glad I’m not invisible to our heavenly Father. He sees me. This gave me great comfort on the longs nights when the twins were up for hours in the middle of the night and I had already put in an exhausting day. I’d scream in my head, “does anyone know how hard this is? Did anyone see what I did today?” God whispered in my ear, “I see you.” Tears streaming down my face, I felt such amazing comfort.
The God of the universe see us and know us. Amazing.
Psalm 139: 1-6
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.