Friday, August 14, 2009

Brave New World

Were I a brave woman, I would have long ago taken Wyatt and twins to the library. But I am not that woman. Instead, I shy away from quiet public places. I'm hyper-conscious of other people's negative reactions to crying or squealing babies.

Even in a noisy Wal-mart, some people blatantly turn their heads, furrow their brows in irritation, and shoot flaming arrows my way when two loud chatterbox 9 1/2 month olds turn down their aisle. I could explain the babies are trying out their new vocal range, but I don't think that would help much, so I duck my head and throw another box of Cheerios into the buggy. Others are more discrete, giving a sideways glare as they purse their lips tightly and clench their teeth.

I try to brush off those negative reactions and focus on the kindly grandmas who ooh and ahh over each dimple on my chubby-faced brood. But as a people watcher by nature, I still notice each face, each reaction. And on bad days, the reactions I know I'll get make me want to just stay home and order everything from the Internet.

So, needless to say, I've intentionally avoided the library. If my children can so obviously interrupt someone's therapeutic, zen-like Wal-mart run, imagine what they could do in a library, a place I equate with a big sign saying, "SHHHHHH!!!"

But they had a book I wanted to read.

From a front desk perched prominently behind the automatic doors, the trio of librarians had to see us coming: Emerson in the umbrella stroller swerving in a less-than-straight path across the parking lot, Amelia trying to squirm out of my arms, and Wyatt bouncing happily as he tried to help steer said stroller.

As I explained that I was the lady they were holding the book for, one of the librarians said, "Do you want to get library cards for the children, too?" Uh....not really something I had thought about. But, sure.

She then led us to the board book section because, as she said, "they can't hurt these books." My mommy self was thinking, "Yeah? You haven't seen my kids; they don't read books--they ingest them." But I held my tongue because on the "short table" where I sat to fill out the forms, she also placed a packet of coloring pages and a huge bucket of crayons for Wyatt.

You can imagine Wyatt's eyes at this point--and eyes not at all interested in crayons. All around him were miles of books! And so many of them placed with their covers facing his eyes, just beckoning him to pull them down and look between their colored pages.

I now have four little library cards in my wallet...and two new Curious George books on my dining room table.

But more than that, I have a sense of relief. This is one of the first places I have felt it was really ok to bring my children. Yes, except for the song of Wyatt's incessant questions and audible excitement over each book he saw, it was as quiet as a tomb in there. But not one librarian batted an eye. It was as if they were all as used to children's noises as I was.

It's a good feeling to know that someone (besides me, God, and family) is ok with my children just being children.


  1. I love the way you share your stories. The Walmart account was so real, and yes I understand your apprehension.

    When I was a young mom of children ages 6, 4, and 2, I would get specific requests from one church member not to bring my children to weekly Bibly study at her home. Of course I understood, it only meant Mama had to stay home too.

    Bless the heart of those librarians.


  2. Jennifer,

    If you're talking about the Denham Springs library, I wholeheartedly agree. That place is magic - equally good for silent bar exam studying as it is for rowdy children's story time. Those ladies have no less than 75 Wyatt, Ameila and Emersons every Monday morning for story time and lots of other little ones with their mommies during the week.

    I'm so glad Wyatt enjoyed his first library trip, and that you have discovered another safe haven for your brood. Give me a call the next time you're over. It's one of my favorite places too :)

    Love, Liza

  3. Thanks for the encouragement Lidj! You're such a support to me, knowing you made it through with happy adult children!

  4. I realize that I am quite full of emotion after Cammie's wedding, but this made me want to cry.

    How amazing. You know, I can still remember looks I got when Cammie and Courtney were small. Likely some of the same you have seen. Only for very different reasons.

    It took me many years to figure out why. Why do people--often older ladies--stare at me, shaking their heads sometimes ever so slightly seemingly in disgust. I was naive.

    The girls were quiet. It wasn't cold outside. No need to question whether or not they were properly dressed. I'd give myself a once over. "I" was properly dressed. No parts hanging out. What was it?

    And one day it dawned on me. They assumed I was a very young mother. Babies having babies. Tsk, tsk.

    They assumed. I was 21 when Cammie was born 23 when Courtney was born. Clearly I did not look my age. This is something I've grown to greatly appreciate.

    But they assumed. And I hope I never, ever do that to a mother.

    I've also learned quite a lot from Sophie. Strong-willed Sophie. Testy, often loud, sometimes saying the wrong thing at the worst possible time.

    I've learned a lot. Because I used to be the mom who thought it couldn't be that bad. The "you should be more firm with your discipline" mom. The know it all Nanny. The "they behaved fine for me" Nanny. The Nanny who kept all manner of children.

    And then came Sophie. And now I am a more humbled, "I don't have all the answers but I'll keep trying and I'll keep seeking Him" mom.

    And that makes your story even more dear to my heart.