Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Doing it well

Just about every time we leave the house now to run an errand or pick up groceries, I think about our image.

Not in a shallow, air-brushed-Kardashian sort of way.  But when your family looks like mine, people are watching.  And asking questions.  Even if you're not a fancy celebrity with your own semi-reality TV show.

I'm really trying to embrace the fact that we more or less live in a goldfish bowl, and so I've actually given some thought recently to the image I want to portray.  And this is what I came up with:

{a wife and mother of a life-filled family, attempting to live out her Catholic faith, and thriving while doing so.}

Perhaps that sounds overly ambitious.  It probably is. 

But I actually had a bit of an epiphany at Costco the other day, so hear me out on this one.

Had you been there at the store, you would have seen: me pushing one cart overflowing with kids and food, my son pushing the other cart filled to the brim with diapers (and a laminator--be still my homeschooling heart), and my daughter pushing a kid in a stroller.  The two remaining children walked alongside.

We were quite a sight.

And garnered several comments.

One came from a woman, probably in her early sixties, who approached me from a distance.

"I just love this.  It is so, so good to see a happy mama with happy, well-behaved children.  Your family is precious.  Thank you."

Wow.  I didn't know what to say.

Humbled, encouraged, and convicted, all at once.

Because how often have I brusquely marched my kids through the store, so obviously NOT projecting the image of a happy mom?  How often have I forgotten that people are watching me, constantly, when I'm out in public with my crew?

Pretty often.

And that afternoon at Costco demonstrated that it's ever-so-important for our society to see regular-looking-women-with-multiple-children, out and about, shopping at the store.  In our time of HHS mandates and anti-family bias, we are making it abundantly clear what we stand for when we leave our home.  Without even saying a word.

I know, I know--what does it even mean to be a representation of a thriving wife and a mother, living her vocation well?  It certainly doesn't mean convincing unsuspecting strangers that I'm perfect.  (I'm not.)  It doesn't mean pretending that our life is filled with unicorns and rainbows every day.  (It's not.)  It doesn't mean I don't vent to my closest girlfriends about goofy things my kids did (I do), or that I dish up a five-course meal every night (I don't.)

But it DOES mean, for me, that I make a valiant attempt to get dressed and do my hair and makeup before I take my kids to the store.  It means I try to smile and laugh and even enjoy winding my way through the aisles at a snail's pace--because my 7-year-old is proudly and carefully pushing a cart over which he can't even see.  It means making the effort to reflect on positive things my dear children have done, the things I love about them, and keeping a short list of faults.

Because whether I like it or not, my values are sticking out like a sore but hopefully semi-beautiful thumb.  Ev.ery.where.we.go. 

So I long for my very life to reflect the truth that living out God's design for married women is ultimately liberating, soul-nourishing, and natural--not automatically oppressive or miserable.  And it's totally (read: especially) possible to have a wonderful, happy marriage while being fruitful and generous and raising children.

Who would have thought that the day would come when simply giving birth and raising little ones would be so counter-cultural?

But, it is.  I know it is, because I hear comments every time we leave the house about our family and life-choices, which just plain make very little sense in today's social climate.

So even though I'm a total failing-all-too-often work in progress, I want to do my very best to publicly and graciously live out what I believe.  And hopefully, maybe eventually, my life will become one in which true womanhood is exemplified--where I am doing this thing well.


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