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"Walking Billboards" by Cassie Everts (CatholicMom.com) Photo by Gavin Allanwood (2018) via Unsplash.com; CC0 Public Domain[/caption] A few months ago my husband was away at a conference, so I decided to venture out for the day with all four kiddos in tow. I wasn’t sure how the events of the day would unfold or how everyone would hold up. Started with making pancakes from scratch, getting the kids fed, the little ones changed, the baby nursed, and myself ready and out the door in time for Saturday-morning Confession. We were off to a great start. I was nervous about attempting Confession flying solo with all the kids, but we made it through the line and managed to be a minimal distraction to those waiting. Next stop, the library and then out for lunch. I treated the kids to ice-cream sundaes after lunch for such outstanding behavior on all fronts. We nailed it! No tears, no fights, no tantrums. We nailed it and I hope everyone was watching. I hope everyone took notice. I don’t say it to sound prideful or egotistic, but whether we realize it or not, we are being watched -- our parenting scrutinized, our reactions judged, and our family size critiqued. I hope they noticed how quietly everyone waited. How helpful the boys were in holding doors open and making the little ones smile. How patiently everyone sat and how joyful the sound of children’s laughter. I hope they noticed how beautiful family life is. I hope they saw a glimpse of the truth and recognized love. That a child is not a mere inconvenience, but a gift to family, the Church, society and the world. No one commented on the children’s grand performance, but I hope they noticed. I could try the same exact outing next week and the outcome could be completely different and I know for certain everyone would be watching. The looks, eye rolls, and comments would have been shared with me. Everyone notices when I am attempting a balancing act through the parking lot, infant carrier in one arm, pushing the grocery cart with the other, and growing annoyed as the toddler continually screams wanting to get out. When I look exhausted and overwhelmed strangers tell me that I must be busy. When the little ones are crying and I look like I am about to lose it they tell me I must have my hands full. When I pick the biggest grocery cart to accommodate the infant carrier, toddler, and a week's worth of groceries they tell me I better not have any more kids, gasping when I say this is only half of them. We are being watched during the good days and bad. Whether my hair is combed or curled, clothes ironed or shirt stained, kids crying or laughing. We have a chance to send a message to a world that no longer values family and children. Some days it is easy, others difficult, but it's nothing a cheery smile and hello can’t hide -- and still we are all faced with the extremely challenging days when we are on the brink of losing it. Thankfully each day we are given is a fresh start. A new beginning to shine and share with the world the joy and love found in family, children and motherhood. Every time we step out in public we are advertising motherhood and family life. I pray in each moment I can always have a smile and remain joyful, because we are the billboards for family life and I hope the message that I am leaving is a positive one. We are walking billboards: what message are we sending?
Copyright 2018 Cassie Everts