Friday, February 08, 2008

Smoothing the Edges

As a mother of many, I feel as if I must constantly prove that I can "handle it". The last thing in the world I want is for someone to look at me and think it is irresponsible of me to have so many kids because I am doing such a poor job of caring for them.

As far as character flaws go, this might be my worst (though by no means not my only) one. Of course, God knows this. Therefore, in what I'm sure is a loving attempt to rid me of this flaw, He often sends me opportunities to work on my pride. And, boy, did He send me a doozy today.

Julia started a new gymnastics school this afternoon. Although I loved her old one and felt very comfortable and welcome there, she had become bored with her class, which moved more slowly than she would have liked. Therefore, I brought her to a new, reputedly more fast paced, gym where she could be more challenged and go more times per week.

Knowing that this was a more "serious" gym, I prepped the kids before our first visit. I wasn't sure what it would be like and I didn't want to show up like the Beverly Hillbillies. So, I made sure everyone knew what was expected, I wiped off faces, found clean clothes and gave out a general list of acceptable behaviors.

At the gym, all went fairly well. Aside from Tony falling off the low bleacher in the first 5 minutes and ending up with a lump the size of Omaha on the back of his head, we blended in pretty well. The owner was very welcoming and I felt immediately comfortable. This was not to last long, however.

At the end of class, I gave Julia her shoes, gathered up Tony and Isabella, counted heads and went out the door to the car. I loaded the kids, paused to search for someone's missing shoes, changed someone, and altogether spent somewhere around 10 minutes getting settled. Just as I sat down and buckled myself in, I saw the owner coming toward the car with a sobbing Julia. She explained that Julia had been left inside, didn't know where I was, and had been sitting on her lap crying for the 10 minutes I had been settling in the car.

Unbelievably, I had not even noticed that Julia was not with us.

In my defense (if there is any defense at all for this), I had not left the parking lot, and I am sure that I would have noticed she were missing before I drove off. I always take a mental inventory of the children when I leave somewhere, and I'm sure I would have done so this time as well. But I never got the chance because she found me first.

The owner, previously so friendly and welcoming, was cold now. I felt not only terrible for Julia, whom I had frightened, but, selfishly, for myself as well. This lady, who had only just met me, was judging my parenting ability and I came up way, way short. Here I was, hoping to make a good impression and establish a long, solid relationship with a new gym. Instead, I left the owner incredulous that someone could actually be such a horrible parent. How totally humiliating.

I am dreading the next class. Should I explain myself? Hide behind oversized sunglasses? Go in with my head held high? Retreat to our old gym with my tail between my legs?

Whatever I decide to do, my pride has certainly been beaten back a bit. A few dozen more episodes like this one and perhaps I will be cured of my terrible affliction. And, hopefully, I won't actually lose one of the children in process.


Jen Savard said...

Ypu go in with your head held high with some really cute oversize sunglassess!!!Suz, I have told you as I'm sure many others have also told you what an incredible mother you are. There are very few people in this world that can do what you do. I am amazed all the time about how patient,kind,loving,and ORGANIZED you are. Please do not let this one stranger who knows nothing about you and your wonderful family ruin that.
Love ya, Jen

Maude said...

When my youngest was only a few months old my husband and I took our two boys to the circus. I parked the stroller and started to walk away from it. My husband asked, "So...are we bringing Todd?" I had left him in the stroller!

I've also been at the mall carrying one of our boys when they were infants, laid them down in the car seat that was attached to the stroller, and then forgot they weren't buckled in. I did this with each one of them and had a moment of panic when we got home and I realized they hadn't been strapped into the car seat. It's only by the grace of God that they didn't go tumbling out of the seat onto their heads as I carried them through the parking lot.

I know everyone has moments like these; it's just a lot more embarrassing when your moments are witnessed and rudely judged.

Hang in there -- if the owner had developed a negative view of you, I'm sure it will quickly change. I've never met you, and yet it's obvious to me that you're an amazing mother. She'll catch on :)

Michelle said...


Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

Thanks, ladies. Your support means quite a lot to me. I appreciate you!

KatieGirl said...

Suzanne, you are still my Hero! I am constantly counting heads and sometimes the quiet ones are easy to miss. Hold your head high and always know that you aren't alone. God gave you all these beautiful babies because he knows you value them as much as he does. LL Kate

nicole said...

I know exactly how you feel, regarding having a large family and what people will think when they see you. This could happen to anyone with more than one child, especially when the child in question is fully mobile and independent to some degree. Keep going to the gym and let them know you are a real person, who sometimes makes a mistake (like EVERYONE) but knows that God's grace will get you through it all.

Annie Bizzi said...

I don't know why, but this sounds so familiar...Don't sweat it, Suz--your a great mom and these things happen to the best of us. "God grant me the humility to hold my head high in the face of embarrasment!"

Anonymous said...


I don't remember seeing a check from the person to pay your household expenses. You're a beautiful person and a wonderful mother. Who cares what she thinks or her judgments. You hold your head high and have a smile on your face as if nothing happened. You have extremely beautiful shoes to fill that I know that I would not be able to fill.

Lots and Lots of love!!!!

Lori said...

OK - I have refrained from responding - knowing you and that you take these things so seriously, I didn't want some sarcastic comment making you feel worse - But I'm all over that now - Puhleeez - I know, You know (or should know), We ALL know what a fantastic mother you are - But most importantly, and this is really the only one that matters - God knows what a fantastic mother you are. Do you really think He would have given you each and EVERY ONE of your children to take care of for Him if you couldn't do it? I don't think so...... Give yourself some slack ! I mean truly, you gotta admit (now that some time has passed) that it was kinda funny. Knowing how awful you felt about it was the only thing keeping me from laughing. out loud. You would have noticed sooner or later that she wasn't with you, probably sooner when you went to ask her how she liked her new gym. Then you would have had that Home Alone moment , yelled, Oh My Gosh Julia, and turned around to get her !! I'm sure others think it's kinda funny too, (I can't be the only person you know with a warped sense of humor). Betcha Joey laughed !! They just won't admit it, don't want to hurt you, yada, yada, yada. But you know how much I love you, and that I think you do a wonderful job of running your family so I'm just saying it - It WAS funny, give yourself a break, all your children know they would never truly be abandoned by you and it will probably happen again at some point (hopefully, to a different child the next time). So go in with your head held high knowing God trusted you with His children and it doesn't really matter what Miss Gym Lady thinks. Personally, I'm thinking the thought that you have too many kids never crossed her mind. I mean really,, this is Lancaster were talking about here... not Marin... (Sorry Tina, and any other Marinians out there -It just comes out - one of my flaws)....

Love you LOTS,,,,,

Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

Lori, I wish you lived closer so you could slap me around more often. Seriously, you are, of course, right. And also wise to wait until I felt better, because I most certainly wouldn't have enjoyed your comments as much as I did if they came sooner and was still upset. You know me well. :-)

Jen Savard said...

Okay, okay, I'm with Lori...I kinda laughed too!! :) :)