I had one baby strapped to my chest. My oldest was grabbing handfuls of coffee cup stoppers from the Starbucks barista bar and my toddler was crying because she got a grande water and not a tall one. The judgmental glances were so strong I could feel myself panicking. If I had a quarter for every time I heard, “Oh my, you sure have your hands full” I’d be buying lattes everyday for life. It’s funny how complete strangers can make you feel so invalidated. How complete strangers could make me feel like I owe them an explanation as to why my life currently looks like a circus. Here’s the thing. I don’t owe anyone anything.
So often when I’m out with my flock of littles I feel like I owe everyone an explanation for why I have so many kids so close in age. I feel like my parenting methods have to be justified. On this particular day I felt like I needed to explain why I didn’t firmly correct my four year old for throwing all of the paper stuffing out of the Starbucks coffee basket at the checkout. As I bent over, I asked my son how it might make the man at the counter feel if he had to pick all of this paper up. I encouraged him to re-do his actions (thanks TBRI) by placing the paper gently back in the basket. I could feel the need for an explanation welling up inside of me. My side vision caught the eye-roll from the 65-year-old woman behind me in line while she whispered millennial under her breath. The need to explain welled up even stronger inside of me. I felt like I needed to explain that he was having a hard time adjusting to the newest foster baby in our home. I felt like I needed to explain that by redoing his incorrect behavior we were working on connecting and addressing his physical need for sensory input. I felt like I needed to explain that the baby strapped to my chest was screaming because she was still learning to trust me. I felt like I needed to explain that these weren’t all my kids and that’s why we didn’t all match; that I was awkwardly balancing three of them because the third one showed up yesterday.
But you know what? I don’t owe anyone an explanation. And, I’m learning to be secure enough in my own motherhood and to smile with the crazy. I’m secure enough to let the 65-year-old woman behind me think I’m ‘just a millennial’. I’m secure enough to let the business man at the next table over think I’m just a frazzled stay-at-home mom. I’m secure enough because I’m right where Jesus has called me to be. I’m right where he wants me…in the midst of the crazy. Deep in the trenches of shoes on the wrong feet and public diaper blow outs. Sure, it’s stressful and most of the time a chaotic hot mess. But, it’s also really beautiful; and probably the greatest work I’ll ever do.
So here’s to inviting strangers to stare a little harder and ponder a little longer- you’re staring at Jesus working, restoring and healing. Here’s to being obedient to where Jesus has asked me serve- it’s hard and it is disorganized but it is so rewarding. Here’s to all that damn Starbucks stuffing paper within toddler reach- we’re learning life coping skills and healing a past of trauma. Here’s to being right where Jesus wants me to be, being secure in Jesus and secure in the unconventional motherhood He has called me to.