Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Are you a glutton for punishment?"

A few weeks ago we were in Sam's Club pricing some items for my comparison pricing chart. As you already know we are becoming more frugal in our grocery shopping every day. We were at Sam's on a Friday night, just before closing time, and the store was surprisingly empty. Since the aisles were barren of shoppers, we allowed the children to wander from the cart more than usual. (Generally we have a "hands on the cart" rule for the littlest three children and the older two are expected to walk very nearby.) That night we had children wandering up and down the aisle.

I had stopped to write down the price of Foldger's coffee, because the sorry-excuse-for-coffee at Aldi is a disgrace to the word "coffee." (You should see my poor husband standing over the coffee pot at church waiting for it to finish on Sunday mornings!) Anyway, I was writing down the price and did not notice until the last moment that there was an older couple walking down the aisle. Our kids were all near the cart, but sliding their feet on the concrete floor and doing their best to be patient with Mommy. Anyway, we let the couple around, but the gentleman stopped and looked at us. He counted the children and pointed at my bulging belly and said:

"Are you a glutton for punishment?"

This question he addressed mainly at Paul, but included me in a piercing look. Paul smiled amiably. I made some unnecessary comment about the children's behavior (which I did not think was at all "bad.") And, the man spoke again - something about how can we afford to feed them. Looking around at the shelves of Sam's one of us jokingly, yet seriously, said "we buy in bulk." And usually when we get this question (about once a month), I answer that "we eat a lot of oats." I can't remember what else we said that night, because I was still amazed that the man had the audacity to call children "punishment." And, then he went on to say something about how we must do it for the tax deductions. I must have been 10 shades of red, but I said "I hadn't thought of it that way before." Paul was still just smiling... and trying to keep the children still.

The interview was then over. As you all know, I internalize every criticism ever laid at my door. But, I did not cry. I knew with a clean conscience that we are not a burden on any tax-payers funds. I did not need to defend myself to him. But, still the conversation stuck with me.

It wasn't until a few days ago that I came to this conclusion - "I am so glad that man was not my Daddy!" My Daddy never made me feel like a burden. He never complained about the price of food, clothes, or medical procedures - at least not in front of me. Yes, we all knew that he had to work a lot, but he did not complain to me about the price of flute lessons and other extras.

And, I started to realize that though I would never say that "children are a punishment," there are little ways that perhaps parents make their children feel it. Paul and I have talked about this at length this week. And, we are more resolved than ever that while we are doing our comparison pricing - we will NOT let the children feel that it is a burden to feed them. We can be honest about the price of food. We can look together for good deals. And, we can rejoice in bargains. But, we need to do it in a way that does not begrudge the children for eating.

And, if someone needs new glasses... again... we will buy them without the usual complaining. And, I will try much harder not to remind the children of the cost of glasses every time they scratch them.

And, I will stop being such an electricity nazi "Hey, don't you know someone has to pay for that light you left on?!"

It is right and good to teach children the value of money. But, I have been doing it with the wrong attitude - the wrong approach. I am always coming at it from the negative, instead of the positive.

But, I do not want my children to feel like a burden to me. I do not want them to resent the day they were born, because they think it somehow hindered mommy's happiness. I want to raise them to know that they are loved and valued - more than money! I don't want them to ever think that they were a "punishment" to me.

The comments of the stranger were not meant to be helpful to me. But, the Lord took them and showed me some areas where I can improve.

 What about you? I know you love your kiddoes, but is there room for improvement? I truly mean to work on this! Even so much as how I let my face reflect my feelings at Wal-Mart. I don't want people to walk by me with an expression of pity for my circumstance! I am BLESSED beyond measure! True, I cannot always buy meat - but I have 6 (counting baby in my tummy) wonderful treasures of great value! I want my face to reflect the joy of my life... rather than the momentary afflictions. I want people to look at me and say, "What a happy family." And, I want them to see the Light of the World in our faces.

This is quite a resolution. Please God, we will all attain to it more every day!


Papa, Mama and Buniq said...

I'd say his comment was pretty mild. The stuff that is expressed about conservative Christians, especially those with more then 2 kiddos by the Free Jinger crowd would leave your skin crawling!

Time to coin a funny one liner for comments like that. Best to leave them wondering why they even thought to say something rude, and feeling blessed at the same time, lol!

Bethany in mid-MO said...

I had to look up "free jinger" on google. I had no idea what you were talking about. Interesting...

Papa, Mama and Buniq said...

Best to stay off their radar.
They have called CPS on various Christian families, as well as made a point of talking about how they would like to kidnap the children in some families to ensure they were no longer being forced to be obedient Christians.
Very, very sad.
I finally put that site on block so I would not read it very often.
Too easy to get drawn in and upset.

MamaHen said...

It is hard to know what to say when people comment about the number of children with me (and I only have four which is very small compared to some of my friends). Sometimes I want to be snarky and then other times I am aware of what a great opportunity it is to show the love of Christ.

And you are so right about not letting our kids think they are a burden to us. As they get older they can reason more, but the younger they are the more they need to know you are there to provide for them and will.

Anonymous said...

I've heard of great one-liner responses but I like how you said Paul just smiled. I should be quiet and just smile sometimes when I want to have a clever comeback.

-Mrs. B

Anonymous said...

oh and our President once referred to 'not punishing her with a child' when talking about abortion being ok if his daughter got pregnant. (Don't remember the exact way it came up in his talk, but the phrase was burned in my memory!)

-Mrs B