I wrote this a few weeks ago after one of “those” days, and I decided to figure out how to create a blog in order to share this experience and others like it with other mamas of four (or one or ten or none) who might also find themselves struggling to find the sunshine in the middle of a rainy day every once in a while. Please feel free to share it with anyone you think might need to remember that craziness happens to all of us, and we’re all in this wonderfully insane adventure called life together.
Today, I woke up at 7:42, realized I had missed my 6:00 Pilates class, and thought, oh well… 6:00 am pilates is for the die-hard fitness fanatics. I’m just a perpetually sleepy mama of four whose body bears a remarkable similarity to J-E-L-L-O, and as much as I wish it would, one more class this week isn’t going to magically turn my thrice stretched abs into finely honed steel. So, I quit worrying about the jiggle and got busy juggling the things that keep this family of six off of reality shows like Hoarders. I got the kids up, fed them breakfast, sprayed them down with sunscreen, searched for last year’s swimsuit for Izzi because I left this year’s at her Gigi’s, found lost shoes, got everyone dressed, gathered milk, towels, changes of clothes, snacks, diapers, and water and loaded the three “big” kids to head to their very first swim lesson. On my way to the pool, I kept thinking about the fact that I didn’t even have my sweet Paris with me (Thank God for my Gigi and my Happy, who are my always-willing extra sets of hands.), and the task that lay ahead seemed daunting at best. We arrived at our destination, and getting all three kids from my car to the pool safely without falling, losing anyone or forgetting somebody in the car proved to be yet another adventure in the hysterical comedic drama that is our life. I got to the pool 30 minutes early and realized I forgot the bag with the towels in the mad dash to get to the car with two two-year olds and a semi-potty-trained three-year old.
Seriously?!?! Towels?!?! I. Cannot. Believe. I. Forgot. The. Towels.
I considered going back for them, but I didn’t want to miss seeing my kiddos very first swimming lesson ever, even if it was from across the yard because parents aren’t allowed through the gate to the pool… So, I soldiered on.
I let Izzi out first because she stays beside me the best. I had her holding my foot as I scrambled up into my incredibly massive vehicle – which, by the way, I drive NOT because I’m such a good driver, but rather because it’s one of the few vehicles on the planet large enough to accommodate four carseats besides a school bus. I strained to reach Riley in the far recesses of the third row and rushed to unhook his and Reagan’s safety restraints. During my unlocking frenzy, Izzi, my naturally curious three-year-old angel, saw a rock she just HAD to have. My heart stopped for the few seconds she let go of my foot, and in an effort to contort my body enough to twist around and lay eyes on my big girl, I pretty much fell backwards out of my truck, hit the running board with my “I’ve had four kids” backside and went “splat” in the GIANT puddle of mud created by the week-long monsoon we had just come through around here. In the process, I narrowly avoided Isabelle, who looked up from her rock discovery long enough to squeal, “Whoa, Mommy! You almost squished me.”
I assured her I was fine. A little mud wouldn’t kill me, and I’ve certainly done more embarrassing things in my life, so I dusted myself off, turned around in time to catch Reagan, who was eyeing the mud puddle like it was Disneyland, set him safely on the other side, grab Riley, snatch Izzi up before she touched the mud (because she does NOT like to be dirty), and head off in search of an unlocked door that would let me get my kids to the pool before I looked so much like a crazed kidnapper that the swim instructor called the cops on me.
We finally made it to the gate of the pool. It was 10:46. Our lesson began at 11:00. The kids could see the pool, and I had told them we were going swimming, but we couldn’t get in the pool for 14 minutes. Fourteen minutes. Not even a quarter of an hour. Only 840 seconds. That’s no big deal, right?
Wrong. 14 minutes is an ETERNITY when you have two 2-year olds, one three-year old, a huge bag and only two hands. Trust me.
10:52, and we had already played ‘Follow the Leader’ and ‘I Spy’ and sung the alphabet song three times. 10:56, and I was about to resort to snack time. 10:59, and a flood of day campers started to exit the pool, and Riley saw his chance. He escaped my grasp, rushed through the gate, and made a mad dash for the pool. My brain quickly processed the facts that if I let go of Reagan, he was going to do the same thing, and Izzi would follow suit when she saw I was otherwise occupied. However, I also knew that if I didn’t get to Riley RIGHT THEN, he might fall into the pool, get scared, and decide to be aqua-phobic for all eternity before the first swimming lesson even began.
While I was trying to decide what to do, one of the camp counselors rescued my son and brought him back to me. That gave her the apparently irresistible opportunity to give me her best “you are not fit to be a parent” glare and to deliver the stern message that I should really hold on to my children around a pool She also threw in her opinion that if I can’t handle my children, maybe I shouldn’t have had so many. Really, lady?
I didn’t tell her the fourth one wasn’t with me….
I wanted to say, “Yes, I’ve come this far with my backside COVERED in mud and with my naturally frizz-tastic hair going WILD from my fall and the 100% Louisiana humidity, and I just let go of my son because I figured my extra octopus arm that should’ve come with the fourth kid was going to make its appearance today.” Since that extra appendage apparently got lost in the mail with my winning entry to the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes, and because I didn’t have enough arms to get in a cat fight AND keep all of my many, many children safe, I just thanked her for saving Riley and told her I’d try to be more responsible in the future.
11:00!!!! FINALLY!! The instructor opened the gate, and the lesson began. I snapped a few pictures for the grandmothers before I was rushed to the other side of the gate to sit down. The kids LOVED the water. All the craziness was totally worth it to see them smile and laugh so much!
11:12. It started sprinkling. They invited me inside the gate to stand under the picnic table umbrella. The lesson continued.
11:15. The. bottom. fell. OUT!!! I tried my best to get all of my post-three-pregnancies self under the umbrella. I failed. Guess I shouldn’t have missed Pilates.
The good news is all the mud got washed off of the back of me.
The bad news is I forgot the towels.
11:17. The lesson ended due to inclement weather, and I was given three very disappointed little people to rush to shelter a football field away. True story— I was holding the twins and our big supply bag (minus the very important towels because they required a bag of their own), and Izzi was running behind me. We were halfway to shelter. I looked back to make sure Izzi was ok. Bad plan. My foot hit something, and down I went. Again. As I was flying through the air, I desperately tried to figure out how to save my boys from getting hurt because I couldn’t manage to stay on my feet. I somehow ended up twisting around so they landed upright on top of me. They thought it was AWESOME!!! Izzi did not. I also did not think it was awesome. As I was lying in the mud with my two boys on top of me jumping up and down thinking I was playing some kind of insane game involving throwing myself into the mud, I thought of my Pastor’s statement in a recent sermon about rain being a sign of God’s blessing, and I burst out laughing. (Which, come to think of it, did not help to keep me from looking like a total lunatic, but what else was I going to do??)
The swim instructor rushed to my aid, as did the lady who told me I should not have so many kids (of course). I collected my angels and our strewn belongings, and calmly began to limp toward shelter so I could get the kids into dry clothes and wring mine out the best I could before heading home. We made it to the car without further incident, and as I sat in the front seat, tears streaming down my face, I looked up, and I saw a rainbow. There are no more beautiful illustrations of God’s faithfulness in all the world than those incredibly hued arcs in the sky. That “Rainbow Moment” didn’t dry me off or ease the humiliation I felt, but it did remind me that He sees me. He knows where I am. I’m not forgotten, and I am not alone. He sees the falls and the frustration and the forgotten towels, and He alone gives the grace and the strength to try this all over again tomorrow.
My take-aways from this experience:
#1…the rain really is a blessing. If we will take the time to stop and look for them, it provides the opportunity for us to have “Rainbow Moments”, which sometimes are exactly the reminders of God’s faithfulness we need to keep us from having a nervous breakdown.
And, #2… Don’t skip pilates.