I’d like to start a new series called Fiction Friday. Every week, I’ll leave you with a little fictitious account of a mother named Emily. She struggled and she has triumphs, she laughs and she cries, but mostly, she desires to be a woman after God’s own heart, though all the ups and downs that life (er, that would be me) throw at her. *This is fiction and does not reflect my life or any other person around me. Feel free to link back to this post, please don’t copy- it’s against the law!
It was the middle of March and I was standing at customer service behind a woman who had just pulled a roll of Christmas wrapping paper out of her gigantic Walmart bag and handed it to the slightly annoyed girl behind the counter. As soon as the blue vest had the wrapping paper, the woman began digging through another regular sized Walmart bag full of receipts. I sighed. I had precisely ten minutes until I needed to leave this store and it didn’t seem like we were going to make it. I prayed for patience. The Lord was working on peace in the middle east at that moment, or maybe He just told me that I could handle the situation just fine. Chloe, my almost two-year old was sitting happily in the cart, her wispy blond hair and dimples on her cheeks made surrounding people immune to her fits and tantrums. I knew better; I knew that at any moment she could erupt like Vesuvius. My attention was mostly distracted by my sons, Asher and Reece, who were Irish twins, so called because less than a year had passed between their births. Incidentally, those happy days had also recently passed, which meant Reece was now 3 and Asher, 4. They were doing noisy laps around the cart, singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of my acceptable indoor voice range. Shushing them had no effect. Thankfully, like my daughter, their cuteness seemed to blind strangers to most of their faults. Asher had a clean complexion, beautiful rich green eyes, and shiny brown hair. Reece already had a sprinkling of freckles across his nose, blue eyes with a fiery mischief in them that terrified me, but no doubt charmed other people. Chloe kicked me, again, and the warning bells began going off in my head. I reminded her that it wasn’t nice to kick Mommy, she might hurt the baby in my tummy. I was due in less than a month and I didn’t know what I was having yet. The suspense was killing me, but James, my husband was happy waiting.
The lady looked like she was reaching the end of her bag, much to the relief of the cashier and the five people behind me. I glanced down at my hand at the simple toy and receipt that I had to return. It was a cheap truck, of which we already had two. This morning, I thought about keeping it but determined that we could use every penny these days and so resolved on taking it back. If I had known, I would have kept it.
I glanced at the boys again, their sudden stillness catching my attention. Reece’s face gave me all the information I needed, but it didn’t stop him from loudly declaring, “Mommy, I did poop in my pants!”
I couldn’t tell at that moment if he was proud or ashamed that he had just defecated in his underwear, I was simply thankful he hadn’t yet – never mind. As I glanced down, I noticed the embarrassment that comes with making a puddle on the ground at Walmart. Inwardly groaning, I scooped him up, dropped him in the cart and raced him to the bathroom, trying to ignore the twittering voices behind me. Of course, I couldn’t bring the cart into the bathroom with me, so I set my wet son down; he was now crying, loudly. Chloe didn’t want to get out of the cart though, so she began screaming and writhing as though the bathroom was the end of the line for her. Asher picked up his chorus from before. Somehow, through God’s grace, I got all three kids into the woman’s restroom only to find the handicapped stall with the changing table in use. I was holding Chloe in my arms because she was still thrashing, Reece’s hands covered his face and he sobbed into them, his knees knocking and he shoulders slumped. Asher had no qualms and continued singing “Jesus Loves Me” and making the hand dryers turn on automatically.
I heard the promising sound of a flush and out walked a pretty young girl who was perfectly capable of using any of the other three stalls that were available to her. She didn’t look apologetic; she did look a little disgusted, and I inwardly sighed at the image she must see in me. I ushered my children into the stall and closed the door.
“Asher! Will you stop?” I yelled at my son. He blushed, paused and then sat down on the bathroom floor and put his head on his knees without a word. I instantly felt bad and determined to speak to him later, if I remembered. My voice must have startled Chloe because she stopped crying too, but headed toward the toilet. I distracted her by handing her the truck still in my hand. She happily took it as I pushed the receipt into the depths of my mommy bag; the giant sized bag that regular people used to go to the beach was what I carried to go to Walmart. Thankfully, I had a change of clothes for my middle child. The evidence in front of me suggested that Reece was not feeling well. I put him in a diaper despite his protests.
I checked my watch. 4:43. “Shoot! Okay, we’ve got to hurry, we’re late!” I was supposed to have left the store by 4:30. “We’ve got to go get Daddy from work.” I hoped that my kids heard the cheerfulness in my voice and not the fake behind it. We rushed out of the store and got everyone in to our minivan. When we found out we were pregnant, we traded in both our older cars for the one minivan. I plugged my phone into the stereo and “Jesus Loves Me” instantly began playing as I pulled the car into traffic. “Lord, some days, I’m not sure I have as much patience as You seem to think.” I sighed again and tried to sing along.