On Wednesday I took all the children to the dentist for cleanings. I realized on the way--and I wasn't anxious outright but was prepared--that I've been mindful to avoid taking all five in public by myself unless absolutely necessary. This isn't out of fear but out of increasing wisdom because when Mama loses her peace, the home becomes a maelstrom.
We took our books, and talked in the car about how we would be reading instead of watching television. The staff at this office are so good: I had already gone back to the exam area with the two youngest when a staff member approached me: she had been ready to turn on the television in the waiting room but had heard me tell my children to read instead of watching. I said thank you, but I understood if there were other patients waiting who wanted the TV. The staff member replied that my children were the only ones there, so I told her that indeed I would appreciate her leaving the television off and she said that was fine. Great service!
|Margaret (4) began reading her story to Joseph! Really reading it!|
Joseph was so eager at 2-1/2 to join his siblings for a teeth cleaning that the dentist encouraged us to make him an official appointment next time. This was 'next time' and Joseph at the cusp of three was not anywhere as excited about a cleaning. Basically he clammed up.
The hygienist and dentist were so gentle and kind with Joseph, having him climb in the chair with his big brother. Ultimately, he got half a cleaning and no exam, so the dentist didn't charge me. Great service again!
I relied heavily on my helpers, Margaret and Mary, to hold Thomas while I helped with frightened Joseph.
On my way out, the children were waiting for me in the waiting room while I scheduled our next cleanings. I walked into the room where a woman (who apparently thought I had three children) asked, "Are all these children yours?"
I replied, "Well, I have another one somewhere, but I don't see him here. John? Where are you?"
That's when I turned and she saw for the first time the baby on my chest. She gasped, realizing I had not three or four, but five children: "What? You have five children? I had two and it just about killed me."
For the first time, I was able to express this sentiment with true sincerity--a sentiment I've read in various writings--when I whispered to her (so my children wouldn't here): "I've come to think that no matter how many children we have, it just about kills us."
She smiled big and said, "I'm just so, so proud of you!" It was precious, just like she was my grandmother.
The good thing about just about dying but not quite is that, one hopes, one continues to die to self and unite one's suffering with Christ's because nowhere can we be nearer to him than when we are suffering for the glory of God. We are not closer to Jesus when our homes stay orderly, our waistlines thin, our meals gourmet, and our minds at quiet peace because of the lack of interruptions in our lives.