“So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?” Ecclesiastes 3:22, English Standard Version
As a homeschooling mom of four, my children go everywhere with me. We don’t have family close by, and we don’t have childcare. Most of the time it’s just me.
Consequently, I’ve found myself apologizing every time I schedule an appointment or go anywhere in public for my accompanying minions. I reserve childcare expenses for solo trips for appointments I absolutely cannot bring my children to (example: the gynecologist. That’s an experience I’d like to never repeat with my children, ever).
When our family vehicle needed repairs last month, the children followed me into the lobby of the repair shop like ducklings. One man in the corner pulled his mask out of his pocket and donned it. Employees met us with subconscious frowns and meaningful expressions that indicated my children simply didn’t belong there. The man working behind the counter hesitantly looked at me and asked if I needed a shuttle back home. “No thank you, sir,” I replied. I’d much rather fight a shark in a sewage tank than wrestle car seats out of the van and into the shuttle and then have to coordinate a ride back to the shop and risk missing afternoon appointments. We’d wait.
I pulled their math books out of my backpack, and they quietly began working. The toddler played with his toy truck on the floor while I moved from child to child helping them along when they got stuck on a problem. The Holy Spirit prompted me to take each child’s struggles in turn with the utmost patience and care. Not only did they need my help, but I was very aware that we were being watched.
“Mrs. Herzog? Would you like to use our conference room? Our staff won’t be using it until lunch, and there’s a big table in there,” the man behind the counter offered.
We moved our “classroom” to the conference room and continued our schoolwork, while different repair shop employees peeked in to see where the giggling and school chatter was coming from. The atmosphere shifted from gloom to smiles, hesitancy to acceptance, and irritation to enjoyment. We were offered drinks, snacks and kind words of encouragement. When it was time to leave, they offered for us to stay and finish our schoolwork (which I respectfully declined.)
We don’t have to apologize for our children. We don’t have to be sorry for raising them, teaching them, or having them by our side. Our society is a hostile environment for children; our world is prospectively dim. By enjoying our children and treating them with love, we are countercultural—we’re sharing hope.
Your fellow Able Mom,
Loving Father, you never tire of encouraging and helping your children to grow in virtue, love for you, and love for one another, despite our constant failings. Help us in turn to not see our children as a hindrance, inconvenience or a burden, but as precious eternal souls in need of patient guidance. We pray that our communities would become a place of welcome to people of all ages, stages and abilities, and that we may bring your kingdom by living this example in our homes and in public. Amen!
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