Motherhood is full of lessons in humility, isn’t it? Just when I think I’ve got it in one area of parenting, something will pop up to serve as a reminder of my kid wrangling deficiencies.
Last Monday, I had a full day scheduled. At co-op, I kept busy with teaching the Bible devotional, a soccer class, an art history class, and an elementary Spanish class. I remembered to pack the kids’ lunches and homework assignments. The kids were all having a stellar day, behavior-wise. As they played in the gym with their friends after Monday school was finished, I thought that the whole day had gone incredibly well. I may have had a thought or two of how exceptional my parenting skills were to have warranted such a good day with the kids.
So, I confidently assumed that it would be a great idea to take the kids to the mall on my own and get the spring clothes shopping done. Normally, taking the kids to an extremely stimulating place like the mall by myself would never, ever be a good idea. But with the events of the day so far unfolding so well, I ignored that cautionary voice in my head and proceeded to browse the racks at JCPenney, trying to find shorts and shirts that fit Gabi correctly. Things spiraled out of control pretty quickly. Hosanna didn’t want to sit in the stroller. The boys kept taking things off the shelves and whining about when was it going to be their turn to pick out clothes. I should have stopped the whole shopping trip then before it got worse, but I stubbornly was determined to finish the shopping. The air conditioning at the store was broken. I was sweating as I tried to hurry along the clothing selection, and the kids kept asking if we could go buy something cold to drink. Finally, I found most of the items we needed and purchased them.
I still needed some more shorts for the boys and decided to go out into the mall to another store. First, we had to get to an elevator to get the right floor. I maneuvered the stroller throughout the store, looking for the elevator. Mikey found it, and as we entered the elevator, I realized that Gabi and David were missing. I ducked out of the elevator to see them slurping to their hearts’ content at the water fountain. “Hey! Get over here, guys! The elevator’s here!” I called, and then turned to see the elevator’s doors close. My heart sank. My 5-year-old and my 2-year-old, strapped into a stroller, were on an elevator by themselves. I grabbed my older two kids and frantically pushed the elevator button. As soon as the next elevator came, we rushed down to the first floor. No Mikey, no Hosanna. I hit the elevator button again. There was a ding, the doors opened, and there was Hosanna, all alone in her stroller in the elevator, looking confused. Where was Mikey?? I left Hosanna with her older siblings with strict instructions to stay right by the elevator and watch for their brother. Once again, I boarded the elevator and headed back upstairs to find Mikey. As soon as the doors opened, I could hear sobbing. Poor little man – he had done the right thing and gone directly to a store worker to get help. I comforted him, and we headed downstairs together. By some miracle, the other three were still there, waiting by the doors. Amid a chorus of “you left him all alone, Mom” and other guilt-trip-inducing comments, we made it out to the next store where I made outrageous promises for milkshakes before dinner if they would just cooperate long enough for me to get the boys their shorts. Just as I was at the register to pay for my items, I got a text from a friend. “How did the fitting go?” I read. Oh, snap! I had completely forgotten about Gabi’s fitting for an American Girl fashion show she is going to be in next month. I had twenty minutes to get there. I hustled the kids out of the mall and into the van, promising over and over again that we would get milkshakes just as soon as the fitting was done.
We got to the fitting in the nick of time. A friend happened to be there at the same time and gloriously offered to watch the boys while I took the girls inside. I warned him to keep them away from elevators and happily took him up on his offer. A stop for milkshakes a little later and I was never so glad to finally be home.
Every day, the Lord sends me plenty of moments to humble me and to remind me that I am dependent on Him. It’s just that every once in a while, He allows me to fail in a spectacular way to reveal that I don’t have it all together.
I mean, sometimes I leave my children on elevators!