Yesterday, I took Baby Tess to her doctor's appointment. Me, Tess and her 3 older siblings left the house with the sky a brilliant blue. It was the first day that I'd let the kids leave the house with sweatshirts instead of their winter coats.
Fifteen minutes later on a city bus, all of the passengers watched as ominous black clouds gathered overhead. I looked at Tessy's cute head with its skinny pink cap poking out of the Bijorn. "I hope we get to the doctor's office before it rains."
"Oh God," I prayed. "I'm so poor. I don't even own one umbrella. You've got to help me today."
We made it off the bus before the rain drops started falling. I counted my blessings. Found out that we'd dodged a tornado warning! I counted my blessings twice.
The doctor visit was great. A kind nurse brought everyone TWO rounds of gram cracker snacks. My two older kids stayed uneventfully outside in the waiting area for the first time ever. Tess passed her physical with flying colors and got 3 rounds of immunization shots.
We left the doctor's office at one. The scary clouds were all gone. Now it was raining a damp London drizzle. Jon encouraged me to call a cab for the family instead of waiting in the rain for the next bus. I felt reluctant to spent the extra $17 and I was anxious about this extra notarized document I needed to submit to Children's Hospital. We don't have a bank within walking distance from our house and there were 3 banks near the doctor's office.
I took a deep breath and plunged out in the rain.
If there is ever a time that you feel INCREDIBLY stupid for being poor, it's when you cross heavy city traffic with a newborn on your chest in the rain, with a fuzzy blanket over her head instead of a proper rain coat, and a stream of children trailing behind you.
When we got out of the dangerous cross-walk, I noticed something funny. My kids were all having fun.
It was "Singing in the Rain" Benjamin style. They were all making up songs about getting wet and splashing through puddles with their snow boots on and insisting that they didn't need to wear their hoods because "rain makes my hair curl funny" and "no kids ever have as much fun as us, Mommy!"
When we got into bank, my extra-friendly sweet, "makes me feel like I'm living in a small town again" bank. A jolly guy cooed over the baby and notarized my document for free.
I was feeling so uplifted after getting this dreaded task down, that I asked my kids if they wanted to play at the indoor playground at the Mall next door for a few hours.
I couldn't decide whether I should just call it a day and go home, or wait for a few extra hours to save my husband from a 2 hour bus trip back to the pharmacy later that night. (Tessy has this super crazy ulcer medicine to take after her NICU experience. Her meds need 2 hours to make up at the pharmacy and once made, it requires immediate refridgeration.)
Everyone was so happy with songs and lollipops from the bank, that I decided to "give it a go."
About 1/2 a mile into our walk, I bitterly regretted my decision. There were Canadian geese hanging out in the middle of the highway divider before the Mall, that's how wet the parking lots were. Everyone got soak. Mimi dropped her lollipop in the middle of the crosswalk. "I was talking Mama and it fell out!" She demanded that we return immediately and pick it up. I yanked her forward over a bitter protest.
When we finally got into the nearest Mall door, under the red star of Macy's, I felt like a drowned rat. I felt exhausted. I felt like the stupidest mother on the planet.
But all of my kids were so jolly. The girls ooohed over the pretty women's shoes and handbags. My son tried to divide the shoe prices by his three year old Sister's weekly allowance. Baby Tess looked after everything with wide-eyed wonder.
I shook the rain out of my hair and mentally regrouped. We made it.
As I smoothly guided everyone past the shoe department and towards the exit, a familiar white collar emerged the racks of slippers and winter gloves on clearance.
It was a priest.
I'd never seen a priest at our Mall before and this priest wasn't someone I'd recognized from one of our neighboring parishes.
That didn't matter.
It was Jesus.
"Hello, Father," I said with a smile. "God Bless you!"
Father gave us a special smile as he sized up my entire brood "Same to you."
God didn't give me an umbrella or a sunny day yesterday, but He did give me a special pat on the head!