When I stared into my freezer late Thursday afternoon and realized the entrée
pickings were slim, I called John and asked him to meet us at my kids' favorite restaurants. We rarely take everyone out to eat because Patrick is on a special diet and it's difficult to find a place that serves safe food for him. Plus, eating out gets expensive--fast. But last week we were forced to make an exception due to lack of available food options (coupled with a lack of energy on my part), so off we went to round up some grub at a dinner joint.
The kids were so excited they were bouncing in their car seats the entire way there.
We arrived before John and when I ushered the children through the glass doors, the five of them bolted towards the strategically placed arcade game. After I waddled over to the hostess and let her know how many would be joining us, I made eye contact with a woman who was also waiting to be seated.
I smiled at her.
"You have five?" she asked, incredulous.
I braced myself for a barrage. "Yep, five," I said.
"And you're pregnant?"
"Yes, I'm pregnant with my sixth. He'll be here in November," I replied.
"Are you done?"
"I'm not sure," I said. "Who knows?"
I shrugged my shoulders for effect. I smiled again, trying to deflect some of my discomfort at her invasive questions. She sneered and and balled her hand into a fist and said, "Zero. I have no kids and I'm happy about it," she retorted.
No children? I thought. That's so sad. That's like living a life without beautiful flowers. What a tragedy!
"Better you than me," she started again.
"Look at them," I said and waved towards my brood who were quietly, yet excitedly jamming the joy sticks on the video game.
"They're really good kids and they entertain each other. My life is better with them."
"But how do you handle the pain? Childbirth and all that?"
I laughed now.
"There are drugs for that. Trust me, in motherhood, there are plenty of opportunities to embrace the pain. I see the epidural as a gift," I joked.
She looked shocked.
"But that's bad for the baby," she gasped.
"Yes, some people think so, I suppose. Many women prefer to go without drugs. I've done it both ways," I replied.
"What does your husband do? He must make a lot of money," she asked.
"He's in sales; we make it work."
"Does he have a brother? If so, I need his number."
I laughed. "Sorry, the brothers are taken."
The hostess returned, ready to seat the woman. We waved good-bye and after she walked away I thought about how I should have been offended by the woman's commentary...but I wasn't.
I felt bad for her.
How could she disdainfully look down her nose at my life when it is clearly so full and beautiful?
How could she desire her solitary life versus my sacrificial chaos?
Though it was tempting, I was glad I didn't respond wittily or defensively because my family might be the only example of positive family life that woman ever experiences.
Why would I want to waste the opportunity to demonstrate a pro-life stance because I was offended by her questions? If I believe God can change hearts--and I do--I must also believe He can use my children--even during short mealtime encounters--to melt anti-child attitudes?
When it was finally our turn to sit down, my kids shouted drink requests to the waiter and scoured the menu in search of the most delicious things to eat. Once they ordered, they got busy decorating the color sheets for submission in the coloring contest the restaurant was holding. And when they finished their meals and the waiter brought their desserts, mounds of ice cream loaded with chocolate candies and whipped cream, John and I smiled at each other.
Watching them eat their bowls of creamy sugar made us happy and in that moment, I wouldn't have wished to be at any other table.
Yes, it's loud and messy where I sit, but I'll take the chaos of seven over a table for one any day.