There are days. Days when I look back over the last half decade and remember the praying, the tears, the crying out. Days when it isn't that I've forgotten how much I begged God for these boys it's just that I question why He honored those requests.
Today is one of those days.
Today I say, "God, what were you thinking? You knew I was completely ill prepared to handle the shenanigans these two would pull and you gave them to me anyway. I think you grossly overestimated my ability to parent."
I trudged through the grocery store, pulling the cart behind me, shuffling through ads so that I could get great glee out of making Walmart price match, pulling coupons out of my folder, telling The Rock Star to please stop climbing in and then back out of the cart, all the while listening to the The Little Buddy's whimpers turning into crying turning into wails that would probably annoy even the dead.
I needed to spend some quality time with the baking aisle on account of the fact that I had some pretty awesome price matching to do there. So, while the baking aisle and I winked at each other and I waited for it to propose, all the while promising that if we got married I wouldn't let my youngest son ruin our fun, I realized that another situation was brewing. Had brewed.
The Rock Star, who had previously been on his knees salivating over a box of cake mix, was now licking the picture. In the event that you missed what I just said, MY FOUR-YEAR-OLD WAS ON HIS KNEES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BAKING AISLE LICKING A BOX OF CAKE MIX! So I fought the urge to pass out. I fought the urge to leave him there, as a permanent product of Walmart. I fought the urge to yank him up by one arm, throw him (with super human power) into the cart, and high tail it outta there. What I said, loudly, over the wails of his angry brother, was, "Oh. My. Golly. Were you born in a barn?" Where this came from I have no idea because I don't know of any barnyard animals that lick Pillsbury boxes.
"Yes!" He squealed. "I was born in a barn!" Because, seriously, apparently I'd forgotten to pray to the patron saint of grocery shopping* before we'd left.
"No. You weren't. I was there. It was a sterile birthing environment."
So. I mistakenly thought that by asking if he'd been born in a barn he would realize that his behavior was imitating that of a pig or a cow or giant gray spider that writes things in her web. Apparently four-year-olds don't follow barnyard innuendo because, moments later, I found him doing the same thing with a box of brownie mix.
Then he was darting back and forth showing me bags of sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and exclaiming that it was all, "Mmm-Mmm-Good!" and asking if I needed it. It was seriously as though he inhaled a sugar fix just by looking at it. It was ridiculous. And all the while Matthew continued to shriek.
A sample of white chicken chili and crackers momentarily paused the fit throwing toddler and seemed to counteract the imaginary sugar my preschooler had just consumed. Praise God for the sample lady! He may have overestimated my ability to be a mom--at least where grocery stores are concerned--but at least He places miraculous sample ladies in my path.
In the produce aisle, Garrett kept putting vegetables in the cart and Matthew resumed his screaming and tears began to flow freely down his face. People around me gave me looks that said, Pick up your son, you terrible mother. But they don't know my son. They don't know that he's the most emotional toddler I have ever encountered. They don't know that it was a battle of the wills and of course he wanted out so that he could help his brother throw unwanted produce into the cart. But as humiliating as it all was, as desperate as I was to get out of the there, rewarding his severe tantrum was not about to happen. A woman finally said, "Oh, poor baby. What's wrong? You are so upset. Tell your mommy that you're upset."
Wait. What? Was she serious? I smiled (that fake smile you flash when someone just said something so overly ridiculous you can barely handle it) and replied, "Yeah. I, uh, I know. He's over the store."
The checkout line was a disaster. Screaming. And The Rock Star asking for every little toy they place there just to drive moms completely over the edge of sanity. And then, when I told him to put it on his Christmas list, he started crying, "I'm afraid Santa won't know what it is."
"Stop crying, now!" And, to his credit, he did. And he stood patiently next to the cart. Then, to the relief of every single person in Walmart, we left. Of course (of course!) The Little Buddy stopped crying the second the cart started moving again.
I loaded everything--and everyone--into the car and contemplated taking a little nap on the ground in the parking lot. In fetal position. With my thumb in my mouth. But I didn't. Wonder why God trusted these two little men to my care? Yes. Oh. Yes.
Later, The Rock Star crawled into my lap and threw his arms around my neck. He peered into my eyes and said, "Mommy? How does God makes eyes?" I told him that God takes the eye and just POPS it into our face. That answer seemed to satisfy him but as I stared deeply into his eyes I thought about it. I thought about all that weaving and designing. I thought about how a baby goes from being a clump of cells to having eyeballs--that work. I thought about how God creates. I thought about how He knew that these two boys would be entrusted to me. The Wailer and The Barnyard Animal. It's no mistake that they're here with me. Before there was time, He knew they would be mine.
*Disclaimer: I'm an evangelical Christian and don't pray to the patron saint of anything. I only believe in praying to God. But if there is a patron saint of grocery shopping...I might need to be put in touch with her.