We just needed to run errands. Small ones, the kind where one person runs in and runs out of places. We normally wouldn’t drag the kids along, we’d wait until date night. But we’re saving up all of our baby-sitting this month for Secret Church (Highly recommend simulcasting this because tickets are sold out. A great way to spend Good Friday.)
This is why we found ourselves in the van with the entire family at exactly 5:05, headed out to run errands.
Our first stop was dinner. Because well-fed Tag-Alongs are happy Tag-Alongs. It was Kids’ Eat Free night at Moe’s, so that was the restaurant of choice. HOWEVAH, when I realized the deal was one kids’ meal per adult meal, my well-laid plans of a cheap night out were lost. I immediately revamped our order in my head, muttering to myself in line and calculating like the deranged Mother-of-Many that I am, and still made it out of the restaurant with food and drinks for nine for $25.
But all that calculating was probably why I didn’t hear my phone ring with a call from ADT…
I waltzed out to the van with my stash and Andrew and I set about dispensing to the crowd. (We didn’t have time to take everyone in, plus, on kids’ night, there wasn’t seating for nine.) I made two more trips back and forth between the restaurant and the van for all the straws & forks I’d forgotten. More muttering to myself while the entire restaurant watched us doling food out to our over-sized van that was parked in front of the large windows.
We got everyone settled and climbed back into the front to take our first bites of food. Andrew’s phone rang. It was ADT. The cops were at our house and wanted to know if we could come home to meet them.
That was a tense drive home. The kids didn’t quite understand that it wasn’t funny yet and made a few wildly inappropriate jokes. We allowed them to remain in the car, mostly because we didn’t want to take the time to pull over and make them walk.
We had carefully locked our two main doors, but it occurred to us about halfway home that one of the other doors was probably not shut properly and blew open. My immediate concern became whether or not the cat would discover it and try to hide in my sock drawer, as has become her habit.
We made it home and let the two nice cops search the house for intruders. Not even the cat had bothered to disturb things and we were given the all clear. At which point we locked up and drove away. Again. Because once you’ve strapped seven people down, you might as well just finish what you set out to do. By this time, it was 6:30 and we’d officially checked NOTHING off our list.
As we made the familiar drive out to the main highway, Finn piped up from the back seat. “A-din? Dis way a-din?”
At the first store we stopped at, I tried to make a quick trip in and out, but the staff was distracted by the shoplifters who had just left but foolishly Dropped Their Phone in the parking lot. The cops pulled up as I left the building. I suggested to Andrew that we just head home and hide under the covers.
But we pressed on.
The rest of our stops were fast and fruitful. Andrew and the kids never left the car, it was just me, hopping in and out, running to and fro. We pulled into our driveway once again at precisely 8 pm and sent the kids upstairs to bed. I looked at Andrew as I changed Finn’s diaper and said, “I think it would have been less costly on our mental stability if we’d just hired a baby-sitter.”
“When isn’t it?”
Fortunately, the kids really were happy Tag-Alongs, although the wrestling match that ensued in the very backseat did result in some chip throwing they got in trouble for. But they laughed and sang along to the music and generally enjoyed each other’s company because they had no place else to go. It never occurred to them to worry about the house or wonder if maybe they should chill out because Mommy and Daddy were a little tense. They went blithely along for the ride, giggling at the sheriff’s car and making up stories about what could have happened inside our house. (Their favorite version involved the cat breaking in and watching TV.)
I miss that sense of adventure sometimes. I miss the excitement of something new without all the stress of navigating it like an adult. I listened to them cackling in the backseat as we headed home and I felt the weight of All The Things on my shoulders. As we headed up the mountain, the sunset stretched across the sky in front of us. We pointed it out to the kids and they glanced at it quickly before going back to their games.
But Andrew and I took in that large expanse and drew deep breath. We may have lost our wonder and our excitement over some of life’s adventures, but with loss of innocence comes the Knowing of Him more deeper. As Life presses in, we’ve learned to lean into Him. That sunset meant more to us because of Who it pointed to, something I wouldn’t have pondered as a kid. And I don’t think I’d want to go back. I’d like a break from the medical bills and laundry for a day, but to know Christ less? To have the benefit of knowing He has walked every step of these 30someodd years with me? Nope. No going back.
Not even for a chip fight in the backseat.