We trekked to the city as a family yesterday to get some shopping done and to switch banks. I knew as I was getting dressed that we were in for a doozy of a day. We always are when we spend the day in the city. I wish we were one of those fictitious movie families that enjoys spending every spare minute together, but right now we’re at a less-than-lovely stage of life. I used to panic when I had to take my only child, an infant, shopping with me.
I thought THAT was hard?

Now they’re out of car seats (read: NOT strapped down) and they’re sort of potty trained. More on that in a minute…

As we drive, we are regaled with “I NEEEEEEEEED to go potty!” and “Where is it? Is THIS it? Are we there?” and, new this last month, constant whistling from our daughter.
Her range is fantastic -her song choice: cultured. We’ve been serenaded with nearly the entire soundtrack from “Phantom of the Opera” and “Swan Lake.”
Constantly serenaded.

And my son is going through a phase where he tells me I’m beautiful at LEAST 20 times a day -at least, really.

Walking through stores is rather difficult as it is, but when you add fabrics to the equation… oh, brother. Our trip to the fabric store yesterday went something like this:

“Mom, I CAN get this out…”
“Lacy, put that back.”
“Mom, lemme go.”
“Trent, no. You need to stay by me, okay? Lacy get OVER here! Stop running off.”
“Trent stop whining.”
“I can get this down…”
“Lacy, NO! Don’t get anything down!”
“Lemme GO!”
“Trent, NO!”
At this point, I was stuck between a struggling 3 year old and a five year old who had taken a bolt of fabric out of the rack (because she could, you know) and couldn’t get it back on. I let loose of the 3 year old, and attempted to help the 5 year old. But before I could, the three year old was pushing the cart into a rack of fabric.
I scolded the girl.
I snatched the boy up and scolded him.

And then a kindly old grandmother took my daughter under her wing and helped her replace the fabric bolt. I felt like a jerk for getting after my kids while someone had been watching.
I thanked the grandmother.
I told my daughter to thank her.
She did.
Then Lacy whistled.
My son smothered my face in kisses and told me I was beautiful. I felt even worse about getting after him, still fully aware that he tells me I’m beautiful whenever he’s in trouble.

Where was Dad? On the phone with the people who messed with our credit. More on that in a moment…
Do you think I ever got fabric picked out? It was pretty much a joke, but yeah. I finally did. As we made our way through the store, people were in awe of my children.

“Is that HER whistling?” They’d marvel.
“Yeah, she taught herself,” I’d say. I should have beamed, or something. But by the middle of a long day in the middle of an impossible shopping excursion… I was so far from beaming over Swan Lake.
“Trenton, STOP. Get outta that. Get over here. Look out for that cart! If you don’t come here… Yes, would you mind cutting 2 yards of each, thank you… TRENTON, STOP KNOCKING THOSE OVER. You better get -If you don’t -I’m gonna…” *snatch him up and plunk him on my hip even though he’s pounds too big*
“Mommy, yo’ byootiful.”
I don’t respond. I just stare straight ahead.
“Awwww,” the woman behind me gushes, “Isn’t he just the sweetest?”
“Yeah,” I sort of nod. But she doesn’t know. She doesn’t KNOW!

And so I go through my day getting looks from people who obviously feel I don’t appreciate just how AMAZING my children are.
I do appreciate them.
But yesterday, it was harder. MUCH harder than those blissfully nervous days where I couldn’t even buy diapers without my mom there to hold my hand while I pushed my infant around Wal-Mart in a cart seat sealed off from the world by at least 2 flannel blankets (out, danged germs!).
Simpler times, those.

These are great times too, but boy howdy. Harder.
I should also mention that the fabric shopping disaster happened directly after we’d left the bank and gotten some upsetting financial news. Not DEVASTATING. Just upsetting.
It compounded everything ten-fold.

By the time we left the store, we were all 100% SICK of each other.
After typing that line, I’m somehow tempted to sing, “We are a happy family!” Maybe I can teach my daughter how to whistle it…

We had one stop left. Sam’s Club. We put the kids in one cart. Usually we let them roam around, but after what we’d just been through? They were trapped in the cart.
About 2 minutes into our shopping, we found this:

He was out cold.
She wasn’t, but she knew better than to cause ruckus of ANY nature. She sat in the cart the entire time, only asking to get out about 4 times. She might have asked more if she hadn’t been busy whistling.
When we asked her please stop, she replied, “But my body just says, (she took on a high pitched nasaly voice) ‘Lacy, I NEED to whistle, LET ME whistle!’ So I need to, Mom.”

We went over budget by an alarming amount.
We never do that. Ever.
We really didn’t have any choice. We need toilet paper and diapers and fabric softener… it just so happened they all ran out at the same time.
Given the news we’d just gotten from the bank AND the going over budget, we drove home and reworked our budget as we drove.
THAT was terrible idea.

My eyebrows went down.
I thought about my pant-less son who had wet himself in Sam’s while he slept.
I thought about my sleeping daughter, who had also wet herself.
I thought about money.
I thought and I thought and I thought and my eyebrows knit farther and farther down with each thought.

We stopped on the way home at Wal-Mart. I hopped out to grab a few things before heading home. My thoughts were primarily on money.
And then I saw him…

Have you ever met someone and been instantly put on guard? You somehow feel in your skin and bones that you’ve got to STAY AWAY from that one person?
On the flip side, have you ever met someone you normally might walk away from but who makes you feel completely at ease? Safe, even?

He was a homeless man with a shopping cart full of his only possessions. He was laughing jovially with a Wal-Mart worker. And then he turned around and looked right at me. His eyes twinkled. I mean, they REALLY twinkled.
“Hello,” I smiled.
“Oh, darlin’,” he said, and walked away.

I don’t know what he meant by that. Maybe he was actually an angel who knew exactly the kind of day that I’d had. Maybe he knew I needed a happy homeless man in my life to remind me that my money troubles aren’t really troubles at all. Maybe he knew I needed to see someone living a life I was terrified of… and see that they were truly happy.
I came home, unloaded my CAR FULL of products, ate a hot dinner in my home and was humbled to my very core.
Whistle all you want, Lacy Lou.
Ram carts into fabric racks to your heart’s content, Trenton Too.

And that night, as I curled up to watch a movie with my husband, I was at peace. The kids were asleep by this point, which PROBABLY had something to do with it, but mostly: I was satisfied.
I hate how mortal my thinking is.
Someday I’ll quit thinking like a idiot person and start thinking like someone who really GETS it, you know? I realize that my actions yesterday toward my children weren’t the best. The thoughts, feelings, and attitude weren’t the best. I can’t give my BEST 100% ALL OF THE TIME, especially when “Angel of Music” is being whistled in my ear when I’m trying to add figures in my head.
I keep trying my very hardest.
I’m forever grateful for the Perspective Angels in my life -the ones who pop up and scream at me to come back down to earth, calm my thinking, and get over my little worries that don’t deserve an OUNCE of my energy.
May you find your own homeless man in the near future.
May his eyes twinkle.

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