September Thoughts

I have miraculously been granted a moment of peace by the entire family and so it is with great pleasure that I take some time to relax and gather my many scattered thoughts.

September has held a shadow of sadness for me for almost as long as I can remember. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 are seared into my brain. Like many, I’m well past the age where more of my life has been lived after 9/11 than before it. Yesterday marks ten years since my Uncle Ricky left this earth. My Dad put it best when he said, “Doesn’t seem like 10 years but some days it feels like forever.” I’ve now spent 1/3 of my life without someone that means so much to me. My husband struggles in September too. His brother’s birthday was in September and every year that passes is a reminder of a life cut short.

Yet, I can’t discount the gifts that come with September’s march across time. The cooler weather is truly a Godsend, especially in South Louisiana. While other parts of the country are craving the smell and flavor of pumpkin spice, we’re itching to fire up the gumbo pots. We watch the weather forecast praying for enough cool days in a row to justify heating up the entire house all day. We jumped the gun a little in our house this year and had to crank the AC down while we ate our gumbo in shorts. 10/10 would do it again. It’s also time to make my mustard green soup as many times as I can.

Can’t go wrong with 14 quarts of chicken and sausage gumbo! The Hubs is the best!

As an adult, September has brought with it a feeling of calm before the storm. Holidays now mean balancing work and family and trying to keep all of your ducks in a row so you don’t go insane. I think that’s why Halloween has become one of my favorite holidays. There’s less cooking, less to buy, and fewer logistics to sort out. Also, candy corn pumpkins are dope and you candy corn haters are just gonna have to deal with it. I start decorating for Halloween in September so I can drag the joy out a little longer. (Don’t worry though, the yard decorations are lined up for Thanksgiving and Christmas too.)

Today I took advantage of the beautiful weather and finished planting my fall garden. It doesn’t look like much but it’s my biggest planting to date. I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come since my first attempt in March 2020. With any luck I’ll have mustard greens, beets, carrots, cabbage, green onions, peas, and green beans to fill our bellies.

Green beans and cabbage
Beets, carrots, green onions, and peas
Mustard greens for more mustard green soup!

This September I had the added blessing of spending some quality time with my brother. The kids call him Uncle Poo and he’s quite proud of the title. We got two whole days together. Something we haven’t had since he left for the military almost five years ago. It was something that I definitely needed. We had brunch, went antique shopping, had ice cream, toured the local Naval ship, and visited both sets of our parents together. We even got to go see Eric Clapton in concert. As an adult with my own family it’s easy to forget how great it is to be around people who’ve known me forever. People who know me as more than post baby me.


My peace is slowly being intruded on by the kids. I can’t say I really mind though. This short break has been enough to recharge my batteries and give me the energy I need to finish my Sunday chores. Time to feed everyone lunch then start on the mountain of laundry. A Mom’s work never ends right? Maybe if I’m lucky I can find time to make some cookies. Fingers crossed.

P.S. Geaux Tigers!

Who Loved You Into Being?

The other night The Hubs and I decided to watch “A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood,” the Mr. Roger’s movie with Tom Hanks. It made me cry on three separate occasions because I’m a sap and it’s just a damn good story. What stopped me in my tracks though was one line. As Lloyd Vogel is struggling with his demons, Mr. Rogers asks him to sit still for one minute and, “Think of all the people who loved you into being.” What a powerful image! “All the people who loved you into being.” My mind immediately went to my parents but more images followed.

I thought of my Husband, who grows by My side every single day. I thought of my brother, who I carry with me wherever I go. We’ve had eachother’s backs since he took his first breath and talk almost every day at least once. I thought of my extended family. My Meme who I adore and hope to be like. My Pawpaw who’s voice I still hear in my head and in my own words. Of my Pop who I only got to know briefly before The Lord called him home but who still managed to teach me so much. I thought of my in-laws who in their own unique ways show love and support for me and my family. My children love this new “Mom” part of me into being every single day.

I thought of The Ya-Ya’s who literally helped raise me and supported my Mom and I as we grew together. I thought of my lifelong best friend, Melissa, who continues to nurture my crazy spirit with love and let’s me do the same for her. I thought of my friend Hillary who shares her crayons with me and always manages to find time to send me love and laughter. I thought of my dear friends from middle and high school who embraced my “weirdness” and encouraged me to be myself. There are many friends who have let me grow through their love and then drifted away on the currents of life. Despite years of separation they remain an essential part of my growth story. Their love, albeit only for a season, helped me to become who I am.

But what of those who’s lack of love helped us to grow? The bully who harassed me daily in 4th grade, the heartbreakers of my teenage years, and the adults who snubbed me all helped me to grow as well. They may not have loved me into being but their ugliness gave me room to learn how to love myself.

And who am I helping to love into being? There lies the burden of being human and yet that burden is also a beautiful opportunity so unique to our humanity. We have the power to help others grow with our love. Even people we don’t know. A small act of kindness in the grocery store. A smile at the person stuck next to you in traffic. Shared songs at a red light. Little acts done with love and kindness that may not affect us much but may mean the world to someone else.

Let these be our meditations today: Who are we helping to bring into being with our love? and Who loved us into being?

Have an awesome day everyone! I love you!

Working Life

Amidst the whirlwind of my crazy family, house repairs, and awesome job I’ve finally snuck in a minute to write. It’s 10:30p right now and the kids are asleep (in my bed of course), The Hubs is working late, and the dogs are fed and being lazy. I’ve hopped in the tub to wash the funk off and enjoy a bath bomb. While I’ve learned that self care is much more than hot water and bath bombs, I’m still 100% on board with being able to take an uninterrupted bath that smells nice and has glitter in it. My tub and I are both going to come out of this looking like cheap strippers but at least we’ll smell nice and I’ll have soft sparkly skin.

Realistically, taking a quick shower, putting on an ugly cotton nightgown, and going to bed was probably the smartest choice but my mind is too awake for that at the moment. I had the best day today. One of those crazy days where everything seems to go right and even the annoying things work out in the end. I saw the power of The Universe at work so many times today as people connected in an effort to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I won’t bore you with details but suffice it to say that I said many prayers of thanksgiving in my head throughout the day. It feels cheesy to say things like “seeing God’s work in action.” I’ve never been one to say things like that, even if I noted them in my head. Yet here I am, bubbling over with excitement for the opportunities I have to help others make a difference.

It’s truly amazing how my life has changed in the past three months because of the people I get to come into contact with on a daily basis and the work that I get to do. For the first time I’m truly appreciating how important it it’s to find work that fills my cup and pays the bills. In a 24 hour day I spend 8-9 hours working. That’s 1/3 of the available hours in a day. When you factor in a need for sleep you see just how much of the available time is devoted to work.

I’ve always said that I’m a better Mom because I work. I admire parents who have the fortitude and patience to stay home with their children. They are clearly made of a stronger material than I am. I was called to be a Mother and I love my children fiercely, but I quickly discovered during the early days of quarantine that I have to have adult interaction to make it through the day. I feel like my Mom duties never end and my work allows me to have completed projects and feelings of accomplishment almost every day. Motherhood doesn’t do that for me. I’m 100% okay with that. All this to say that I’ve learned that I’m the best Mom I can be when I’m working a job that feeds my soul.

When I was unhappy at my previous jobs, it bled over into my life at home. I was always upset with myself for not being able to shake it but when you think about spending 1/3 of your day unhappy it makes sense why it’s so hard to break the spell when you get home. That’s magnified when you have toddler twins who begin demanding your attention and what little energy you have left as soon as you pick them up from daycare. At my worst point I realized I was so grouchy that I was yelling at everyone in the house over everything. Even stupid things that didn’t matter. Coming home in a better mood has helped me to slow down and enjoy my family. The Twins are starting to do things like help with dinner. The big kids are taking on more chores. The Hubs and I laugh together more. Before, I was so grouchy and tense that I didn’t take the time that I needed or have the patience required to make these things happen. I’m not saying I haven’t had bad days, but they’re fewer now.

I’m also not as wiped out on the weekends so I’ve been able to do more around the house and have more quality time with my family. The Twins and I have done brunch, The Boy and I binge watched a new show on Netflix (do yourself a favor and watch Sweet Tooth, it’s the bomb), and Crazy Eyes and I have had some great conversations. I’ve even been able to watch movies with The Hubs after the kids go to bed without falling asleep…okay that’s a partial truth. I still fall asleep but it’s about half way through and not ten minutes in. (It’s become a Pavlovian Response to watching movies in our comfy chair, don’t judge me.)

While I may not be as tired on the weekends, I’ve exhausted all of my remaining energy tonight. Time to get my shiny hiney to bed. Tomorrow it’s off to a seminar to learn more sales and marketing techniques. Sounds boring to most but I’m excited. Hopefully by then all this glitter will have fallen off so no one gets the wrong idea. Haha! Here’s wishing you all a lifetime of job satisfaction and an abundance of sparkles!

The Frustration Continues

We had a rough night last night. After weeks of back and forth with insurance and adjusters, we were just informed that we don’t have flood insurance like we thought. Clearly, it’s on us for not having kept up with our policy information, I just wish that one of the four people that we’d talked to with the insurance company before last night had corrected us when we said that we had flood insurance.

So our consolation of “we have flood insurance so at least this means we can replace our crappy floors” is out the window. To add insult to injury, the damage to our roof (which didn’t even cause any of the water damage) has a deductible of $4,500. Our savings is wiped out completely and we still won’t have floors. We’re praying that the walls are okay but haven’t been able to get a contractor out here yet to check.

I did a lot of ugly crying last night. I’m emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed. I feel broken. I’m struggling with patience and frustration and so is The Hubs. We’ve been trying to see the silver linings but I’m running out of steam. It’s hard not to sit in my head and make a list of all the things in our house that are broken that we can’t afford to fix. The oven, the floors, the drainage in the back yard, etc.

There’s no slowing down or end in sight right now. It feels like We’re in the middle of the storm cloud. Maybe it’s true, the darkest hour is just before the dawn. I sure hope dawn comes soon. I’m a naturally optimistic person but this is a true test for me. I’m running out of positives. It’s starting to feel like lipstick on a pig when I try to find the bright side.

The other day a friend posted a thought that resonated with me. “Maybe God gave us the mountain to show others that it could be moved.” Part of me finds peace in this idea that maybe one day our journey will help others. The other part of me wishes that the mountain would just go the hell away and people find another example.

Pray for us my Dears or send positive vibes out into The Universe, whatever it is that you do. Our world isn’t ending, we aren’t homeless, and so many people have it so much worse, but we’re struggling. I’m struggling.

Finding Joy

I didn’t realize how much I missed writing to you all until the other night. I’ve been writing since October of 2018 and took my longest break from writing this year. Life was crazy and I was depressed. I normally share about that here but I felt short on time and motivation. Since I started my new job life has been so much better but taking the leap back into writing has been a little scary. I wasn’t really sure if I still had the spark. I feel super rusty for sure, but it feels good to be writing again.

So other than my most recent escapade, what’s been going on? Let’s see. I got a new job that I’m completely in love with. The kids all had birthdays. I turned thirty 😱. We’ve had several adventures in car trouble ,not limited to the Mom Van herself currently in the shop for some transmission repairs. It’s been a long and educational journey since October of 2020 when I lost my “dream job”.

I put “dream job” in quotes because it almost seems silly to call it that now. It was the dream. It was everything I wanted but then it was gone and I felt lost. I fell into a deep depression. Everything I’d worked so hard to build was taken away and then I watched with frustration and sadness as someone else made it into their own vision in ways that are against what I believe. I saw my former coworkers struggle and ultimately leave to find new careers because of how unhappy they were. When I got laid off I told myself to trust in God and that it would be “Onward and Upward”.

It was a great mantra but even a mantra gets old when you have no idea what “Onward and Upward” looks like for you. Some friends graciously offered to let me work for them and I accepted but ultimately it wasn’t the right fit for me at all. I stayed stressed and on edge and wasn’t happy with the work. Proof to me that God has a plan for us and that some things along the path aren’t meant to be forever, just meant to reaffirm the mission that he’s put us on. My tension and unhappiness started to bleed over into my personal life. I was yelling at everyone at home, not taking care of my body, and depressed. I felt unmoored. I didn’t know what the next step was and I needed a change for me and my family.

Ultimately I was led to an organization that embodies my own personal morals. “All human life has value and dignity.” That’s my “why?”. Our mission statement at work is “To prevent homelessness, and to promote self sufficiency and dignity.” Ya’ll! If that’s not God in action I don’t know what is. Since day one I’ve walked with a lightness and joy in my heart. I feel supported and cared for by my team. The work brings me overflowing joy even on my challenging days. I’m back in the community that I was raised in and have been given the opportunity to help support my team as they make real world impacts on people’s lives. I am inspired by my leaders and coworkers. I’ve already learned so much from everyone and am excited to do more.

I’ve seen a change in my attitude and happiness. My marriage is doing so much better because I’m not walking around angry and stressed all of the time. Its helped me to think clearly about my struggles and made it easier to talk them through. I have time to play with my babies now in ways that I didn’t even have at my “dream job” that was all about supporting learning through play. (Crazy right?!)

I’m so grateful for my journey. I’m happy to have found where I’m meant to be. I promise to write more about our crazy family and our escapades. I cannot thank you all enough for sticking with me through my writing hiatus. I love you all and am so happy that you enjoy taking these rides in the Mom Van with me. Wishing you all peace and happiness today.


More Blessings Than Raindrops

The past 24 hours have been some of the most exhausting, blessing-filled hours of my life. I haven’t blogged in a long time and didn’t plan to come back to blogging this way but there was entirely too much to put in a social media post so here we are.

As I drove home last night from my Mom’s house God blessed me with a clear head and a solid knowledge of North Baton Rouge streets (basically the only part of town where I can confidently drive in a flash flood). As I kept hitting one flooded street after another I thanked God over and over again for the off chance that I was driving The Hubs’s 4 wheel drive vehicle. What are the odds that my van being in the shop for a busted transmission would be such a blessing?

God also put amazing family on my path home. My Aunt and Uncle gave safe haven to the Twins and I last night after I decided that two hours on the road that just kept getting more full of water was too much. Only this morning did I find out how great that decision was. There is no way we would have made it home safely. I passed abandoned cars the entire way home on the route that I would have taken. There was even one in the entrance to my neighborhood.

My in laws tried their best to keep water out of our house by coming over while I was gone to pump water out of the yard since our in ground pump burned up the other day. I truly believe that things would have been worse without their forethought. They knew how bad it was getting before I even had a clue. I even told them that it would be fine and not to worry about it.

This morning when I came home I prayed that I wouldn’t come home to a house full of water. My prayers were answered but there was still damage. Water had seeped in through the expansion joints in the bricks of our house and entered our master bedroom and our office. Without hesitation, my Bonus Dad and my Dad dropped everything, got their shop vacs loaded up, and headed my way. My Mom kept me calm and told me where to start and reminded me to take pictures of everything. I praised God for the 100,000th time for my Disney Plus subscription and got the girls distracted by TV so I could start cleaning up the mess. Together we were able to clean up as much water as we could and get all of the wet clothes/fabrics in both rooms washed and get all the soggy trash out. The floors are definitely toast so as soon as insurance gives the okay they’re coming out.

Through it all The Hubs was trying to make his way home from North Louisiana. He had to fight exhaustion from driving all night to try and help a friend and on top of it ended up having to stop on the side of the road with car trouble. We were both extremely grateful that he was able to get help and for once actually had a phone charger handy so we could stay in touch. He ended up getting the truck fixed but staying in a hotel to get some sleep before he tried to finish the journey home.

My Brother checked on us all day all the way from Seattle where he was fighting with his own crazy day. My sweet friend Hillary brought us enough food for dinner, breakfast, lunch, and dessert. She even offered to watch The Twins so I could take a bath without interruption. The Twins had a blast between sleeping over at my Aunt’s, getting to see two grandparents, and getting to show Mrs. Hillary all of their toys. My work family made sure I was okay and let me know that they were there to help and support us as we move forward.

So many things could have gone so much worse at so many points in this journey. I was in the right car, took the right routes, made the right choices, had a safe place to go, had family supporting us, and even have flood insurance that we thought we’d never use but might as well get. I am going to bed dog tired but with a heart filled with gratitude for God and for the life that he has given us. A lot has happened lately that’s made our family life a roller coaster but at every turn we’ve been able to see God’s hand in the matter. I wouldn’t say I’m “too blessed to be stressed” because the stress is 100% there, but I’m not too stressed to see the blessings in front of me and for that I’m grateful. The Hun just rolled over for some snuggles so I’ll take that as a sign that it’s time for me to get some shut eye too. Just one more blessing to add to the list.

Making Progress

Soooo it’s been a month since I’ve blogged.Please, Dear Mom Van followers, forgive my absence. My hectic life and mental health dictated my silence. Honestly, I haven’t even tried to write anything. I needed the space to try and breathe. I’ve been trying to create a better space for myself at home and a healthier lifestyle for my body. I’ve put a lot of work in but it’s been worth it.

First, I Marie Kondo’ed my clothes. I started with this.

And a couple of hours and two 30 gallon garbage bags later, I ended with this.

My closet is now half empty and I’m in love with it. No more looking at dresses that make my heart sad because I can’t wear them anymore without being sad about my post baby body. No more clothes that I keep saying I’ll fix but never do. No more tshirts that I wear because I have them but don’t actually like.

I then did the Twin’s clothes and Crazy Eyes’. We lost some momentum this week but I plan to help The Boy and The Hubs do their clothes next. I’m hoping that this will translate to less crap we don’t need and less time doing laundry. (Aka washing the same things that don’t get worn over and over again.)

I also purged the spice cabinet (half of it was expired) and organized it. It’s allowed me to put all of my loose leaf teas in one space and actually start enjoying tea more often. (Almost every morning.) I reorganized the pantry and refrigerator as well. Making healthy foods easier to see and access and getting rid of expired foods was a huge relief that I didn’t realize I needed.

On the healthy food front, I’ve started packing my lunches for work. I’m on the road three days a week at lunch time so I started making healthy “snack boxes.” It’s become the best part of my Sunday night routine. I have so much fun figuring out what to put in them that’s healthy, filling, and balances all of my cravings.

I try to include protein (imitation crab or turkey sticks), a fresh fruit or veggie (berries, clementines, tomatoes, or cucumbers), two or three types of cheese, and a sweet or salty random addition. I’m on week three and I really love it. I feel so much better and less physically exhausted at the end of the day. I’ve also started trying to drink more water but that’s still a struggle. I’ve been stretching in the mornings too and including the kids on weekends.

I buckled down and focused on potty training the twins. That was nuts so I’ll share more on that later. The next step is getting them to sleep in their bed and get out of mine.

Fine art is best appreciated on the toilet.

I’ve been journaling and sketching again. I even spent some time drawing with the big kids. It was hard letting them (or anyone really) see my struggle with my art, but I think we all benefited from it and enjoyed it. I’ve been listening to books that make me happy and not forcing myself to finish books that feel like a chore to listen to. I used to do it way more than I’d like to admit. I’m listening to more music and turning off the tv more. It’s made for more “dancing parties” as the kids call them.

I’m still stressed a lot and life is still crazy. Our finances are all jacked up right now but we’re working on that too. I haven’t found the perfect balance of self care and family care. I haven’t figured out work life balance (I wake up from a stressful work related dream at least once a week) but it’s getting easier as I adjust. I’m making progress and working on myself because I deserve it.

Wishing you all joy and progress in your own lives!

Relaxation Done…Right?

Christmas and life have me super stressed right now so I decided I’d try to pamper myself before bed. A warm bath with Epsom salts, a rejuvenating clay mask, an empowering book, and a tall glass of water. What could go wrong?

My family. That’s what could go wrong, among other things.

We don’t call her Crazy Eyes for nothing.

First, my lovely husband decided that the perfect time to poop was right when I started gathering my towel and pjs. It’s like he sensed what I was doing and his bowels screamed out that I was not to be allowed a clean smelling moment to myself. He wouldn’t dare use the other bathroom just this once.

Of course, the children sensed the disturbance in the force as well and immediately kicked into action. Suddenly they couldn’t get their clothes together for the next day. They needed help finding socks. They thought it was appropriate to talk back. They wanted to read a story instead of sleeping. They needed juice. All at once. The only one who didn’t need my help was The Conqueror and that’s only because she was sleeping.

The dogs couldn’t be left out either. Despite being able to go outside and poop, the Little Bad Dog felt that her turds were best shared with the family. Her gift to us as a thank you for leaving her locked in the bathroom while we spent time with family. As a true ADD Mom at one point I found myself yelling about socks while walking around with a dog poop wrapped in toilet paper in my hand. I made it into the living room before I realized that I’d walked past the bathroom without depositing her contribution to the evening where it belonged.

After the bathroom had been safely aired and frebreezed, I happily undressed and ran my bath. Chaos calmed right? Wrong.

The instructions on my clay face mask required a timer. No biggie. I’d just get my phone off the bedside table. My bathroom is attached to the bedroom so I walked right in without grabbing a towel. Walked right in to a captive audience who was just as shocked to see me naked as I was to be naked in front of them. For God knows what reasons, The Hubs and the three awake kids were just hanging out in our bedroom. The kids and I screamed and then I kicked everyone out while my Husband cackled like the evil villain that he is.

“Fine”, I thought, “the family is gone and the peep show is over. Heart attacks have been had all around. I’ll just grab my phone and begin my relaxation.” Except my phone was gone. It seems that during his evacuation his phone died so The Hubs grabbed mine to finish talking to our friend. Still naked but hiding safely behind our bedroom door, I hollered down the hall until he brought it to me.

I snatched the phone away and asked him to bring me a glass of water. While he was gone I put on my clay mask. Spa time? More like Silence of the Lambs time.

This mask was a horror show. What I thought was a traditional clay mask was really a clay sheet mask. The fleshy colored clay mask hung on my face like I’d just cut it off of a police officer who was guarding my cage. Hannibal would have been proud. It was so ugly that even Buffalo Bill would have been scandalized. “Would you f**k me?” Absolutely not!

I couldn’t stop laughing. Crazy Eyes came in and was appropriately creeped out. Laughing while wearing a flesh mask only intensifies the effect.

So now I’m sitting here sipping water in my flesh mask. Sharing my story with you. It didn’t go as planned but the laughter helped me relax some. At least I get a gold star for effort right?

Are the lambs still crying?

We’ll Get It Right

It’s 9:30pm and all four kids are in bed. Not asleep, but in bed so that’s a start at least. Tonight the yelling and crying was kept at a minimum, everyone got fed, and three out of four bathed so I’m calling it a win. I most definitely needed a win tonight. The yelling and crying has been happening a lot lately. I’ve been a pretty shitty Mom.

I think we all have days where we go to bed and feel like a total Mommy Disaster. I just happen to have had a very long string of those days. My little kids are at a terrible stage where their only method of communication seems to be whining at me. Oh and everything is something to cry and throw a fit about. It’s awful on its own but it’s collided with my recent bout with depression and made for an ugly mess.

Two nights ago my sweet little Hun looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said Mommy please stop yelling. I completely fell apart. I felt lower than low. I’d hurt my baby with my anger over things that weren’t that big of a deal and had little to do with her. I’d let my struggles get in the way of loving the time I have with them. We snuggled and cried together. I promised to work on yelling less and she promised to work on whining less. In the nights since, I’ve made sure to let her know that I see her trying to be a big girl. I’ve yelled less and played more. I’ve pushed myself to be more present and more grateful not only when I’m at home with them but when I’m away as well.

Since I lost my job I’ve been struggling a lot. There have been many changes and I feel like I lost my identity. I had my dream and then it was taken away. The stages of grief are real and I’ve been fighting through them with this. I’m finding my way slowly though. I’m learning how to appreciate what is in front of me and trying to gently release the past. I’m practicing gratitude. It sets my heart at ease.

And so today I am grateful for all the kids in bed by 9:30 with minimal whining and yelling. I’m grateful for a home and for the kindness of the people in our lives. I’m thankful for the incredible bond that my children share. I’m thankful for each and every goodnight hug and kiss that I got tonight.

If, like me, you’re having a string of Shitty Mom days, take a deep breath and forgive yourself. Tomorrow you can try again. Eventually if we keep trying we’ll both get it right.

Team Barnes vs. The Grocery Store

Yesterday I faced one of my parenting fears: going big grocery shopping with all four kids. Not only was it big grocery shopping, it was Thanksgiving grocery shopping. The biggest of big. We literally needed something from every aisle.

I’ve been to the store with all four before, but it was only ever to pick up gifts or a couple of items. I don’t mind doing a quick errand like that because the kids like the store and are generally well behaved. The Twins have never spent a really long time in a store before and my list was huge. On top of the time factor, I knew that we wouldn’t be able to fit the twins and all of the groceries in one buggy. Yes, they make those carts with extra seats but they are hard to come by and have zero steering. Anytime I use them I just get exasperated and wish I hadn’t.

In light of all this, I made the decision to share my workload with the big kids and show them that I trusted them. The Boy pushed a cart with The Hun and The Conqueror in it. He had specific instructions to stay close and they were told to sit down and behave. Crazy Eyes was on list duty, no small feat with my handwriting. I’d organized the list before we left, grouping them by the section where they could be found. (That part sounds like a lot but it’s a few minutes of work to help us stay on track and was 100% worth it.) I also made sure everyone ate before we went, myself included.

I was worried that The Boy would go rogue with The Twins in tow. Afraid that we’d see a meltdown or brawl from the buggy bound Hun and Conqueror. Concerned that Crazy Eyes wouldn’t be much help and that I’d be using the list myself and therefore not be able to pay as close attention to my four little ducklings in tow. All that plus the constant Mom fear that someone will take her children in the store had me tense and on edge.

It turns out though, that I had nothing to fear. The Twins held it together. The Boy stayed by my side and listened perfectly to all instructions and only hit me with the buggy a couple of times. Crazy Eyes was on that list like a champ, even offering to add unplanned items to the list so we could cross them off. We moved from aisle to aisle like a professionally trained caravan. I gave directional instructions and led the pack while Crazy Eyes let us know what was next and The Boy brought up the rear. The Twins smiled and waved at other patrons which helped ease other shoppers grumpiness and taking up half of the aisle everywhere we went.

When we got to the checkout line I took a moment to snap a quick picture of the kids together. They’d had so much fun and didn’t once ask if it was time to go or complain about it being too hard. We swapped the Twins from the empty buggy to the former grocery filled buggy as the kind girl at checkout scanned our items. The kids and I all thanked her and we went on our way. The Big Kids loaded The Twins into their car seats while I unloaded the groceries.

To people without kids and maybe even to people with kids, all of this may sound silly and unimportant. It was a huge step for all of us though. We’d worked together as a team to get our goal accomplished without argument, drama, or injury. We were all proud of what we’d accomplished when we left and none more proud than me.

It’s such an incredible blessing to be a part of raising these kids. I never thought a grocery shopping trip with my four kids would make my heart explode with love and pride.

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