Being a mom of five kids spaced over six years I'm used to my share of comments. Most people simply look on with a slight bit of shock as we pass but many will ask us about the kids. We get asked if the little guys are twins (yes), how many are boys vs. girls (4 vs. 1), told that our hands are full (duh), and so many other quips and notes. Occasionally we get a comment that makes us wonder if the person's mama ever taught them manners or the whole "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all" mantra.
But then there are people that share words that are so kind and full of love and encouragement that I can't help but think that God has sent these people when I need it most.
Nearly two weeks ago in Sam's Club we were doing our weekly shopping (and taste testing samples) when a man approached our cart.
"Are you babysitting or are all of these yours?"
I cringed inside. I didn't show it on the outside but I wish I had a nickel for every person that asked if all five kids are mine/ours. I gave a version of my standard answer with a smile and cheerful voice.
"All ours! It's a little crazy at times but we love it."
And then his response shocked me.
"That's wonderful! I love big families. We had twelve (!!) and it never seemed like there were too many. Good for you guys."
I could have cried right there. Encouragement and praise from a been-there-done-that parent. Do you know how amazing that feels? He didn't have to say anything. He didn't need to acknowledge a fellow "large" family (although comparing twelve and five seems laughable), but he did. And I'm so thankful for his words that day.
Just this past Saturday as we were walking into Target a woman came up beside our gaggle of children. Micah was holding Anders' hand and Jamison held Anders' other hand. Cade was in between Mercedes and me and Parker was walking up ahead of us.
"What a wonderful family! Oh, they are just precious the way they all walk together so nicely and well behaved. You are doing a great job. Look at all these wonderful kids."
I felt like the Grinch when his heart grew three sizes from hearing the Whos singing on Christmas morning. And she didn't stop there! Mercedes started telling her a story about her brothers and the woman walked along with Mercedes listening and doing her best to understand her little three-year-old language. As we approached the store she continued gushing about the kids.
"They are just beautiful. You are doing such an amazing job with all of them. Congrats on a wonderful family. Just wonderful."
I could have cried over her sweet words to us. Never in such a short period of time have two complete strangers ever made me feel so loved and appreciated for the work that we as parents do. It's so easy to fall into the grind of everyday life when it comes to parenting. Days tend to repeat themselves with the whole wake up, breakfast, rush out the door, rush home, make dinner, baths, bedtime, etc., routine and the fact that we are raising the future of this world, that we are creating leaders, doers, creators, healers, ministers, helpers, and whatever else can get forgotten. But a simple reminder, a kind word from a family member, friend, or even stranger can breathe life into these days.
I challenge you to be an encourager. To share kind words that fill someone's soul like honey. Those simple words you share could make a world of difference to that person.