I donít remember what season it was or what day of the week it was, either. Iím doing good to remember the year. To be honest, most of the days during that period of my life run together in a blur of memory. Lack of sleep can do that to you. Children can do that to you, too.
At the time of this story, I had three of them. I had three born within a four year period. For some reason, we thought that was a good idea at the time. Now, I wonder--what were we thinking?
I was grocery shopping when this incident occurred. Yes -- grocery shopping with three small boys. You understand, Iím sure! Our oldest, Will, was four and while heís always been a well-behaved boy, he was still only a pre-schooler. So that meant having little legs that tired easily and sometimes, when one is four, itís really hard to stand still while Mommy stops the cart and tries to make decisions. And letís not forget the capricious bladder of a pre-schooler!
And then there was Ben, who was two at the time and not nearly so well-behaved as his older brother. Ben was born with a number of special needs and was quite developmentally delayed. But in his third year of life he suddenly figured out how to move and decided to make up for his first couple of years of inactivity. Having no fear whatsoever, he quickly became a menace both himself and others. I have plenty of stories that Iíve unsuccessfully tried to block from my memoryÖ So, to keep him from hurtling himself out of the cart, I would sit him down in the back of the contraption and thread a Velcro strap I had through the slats of the cart and around Benís tummy. He was trapped! That worked until the day he figured out how to pull the strap apart Ėbut thatís another story!
At the time of this incident, Ben also had severe eczema. We eventually got it under control, but for a long time, the poor kid looked like heíd been on the losing end of a fight because he was missing patches of skin on different parts of his body. He was kind of pathetic looking and I could be sure of receiving comments from horrified on-lookers, no matter where I took him!
And then there was the baby. David was just a few months old at the time and had a perpetually purpled mouth because of the anti-thrush medication he had to take. That also elicited a few comments from passer-by! I would set his infant seat on the seat portion of the cart, which left me a space of about twelve inches within which to place all my groceries.
So this particular day was a normal day in this season of life. I was in the store, trying to make decisions on a very limited budget. I had a running total in my mind of what Iíd already chosen, all the while trying to encourage Ben to not smash the potato chips with his feet, assuring Will that Iíd take him potty just as soon as I could, and hoping David wouldnít suddenly decide it was time to eat.
As I checked out that day, a little old lady was in line behind me. Hunched over, she had hobbled through the store and was now placing her items on the belt behind mine. As she did so, she suddenly leaned forward and said to me, ďThese days are the best days of your life, you know.Ē
And, quite honestly, I wanted to deck her! If this was the best season of my life, then there wasnít a whole lot else to look forward to!
But, of course, she was right. Two of those little boys are now teenagers, daily plowing through my fridge and cupboards like starving refugees. And the third is right on their heels (and just as hungry). I look at them at times, and while I can honestly say Iím enjoying this season of life, too, Iíd love to go back to those sweet, early days. Amidst all the struggle and plain hard work of that time, I had a treasure in those little boys.
And then, one of these days Iíll be the little old lady in the grocery store assuring the young, harried mom with the wisdom born from experience.
Maybe I should duck first.
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