Nothing formed against me shall stand—not even screeching toddlers

A few days ago, I ended up in town from 8 AM until 6 PM with all three girls due to an unexpected confluence of, well, quite a few things actually.

I’m not an intensely scheduled person, but we definitely stick to a loose daily routine, and, ideally, that routine, always includes a nap for the twins.

Doing back to back (to back) errands accompanied by two 19-month-old napless toddlers is a bit like doing errands accompanied by a couple of baby wolverines. Which is why I was so very grateful when, on the way to the always-dreaded Wal-Mart leg of our trek, both twins fell asleep. And then, due to my mad Mama ninja skillz (or their utter exhaustion…whichever), they stayed asleep during the transfer from the van to the grocery basket, even in blinding sunlight. They stayed asleep, in fact, the entire time I shopped.

Oh sweet relief! It was a modern day miracle.

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And then we got to the checkout line.

And Nola started to squirm and whimper.

And I started to pray. Desperately. “Lord. Please. PLEASE. I just need 8 more minutes. Just 8 minutes! Could they please stay asleep that long? Then, they can scream at me in the car all they want. I won’t mind.”

(I know. Worst bargainer ever).

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(Side note: I don’t love being in public with my children when they’re screaming no matter what, but there’s just something about being trapped in a checkout line with screaming children that is uniquely capable of making my blood pressure skyrocket . You’re in close quarters with lots of other people. There’s a really good chance that someone will shout something like, “Well, they’re not happy, are they?” over the screaming duet {or chorus, in some cases}…and you’ll want to put your head through the nearest wall).

Pretty much the moment the last words of my prayer of desperation evaporated from my mind, both girls woke up and proceeded to make that noise that makes the hair on every mama’s neck everywhere bristle.

It’s not screaming. It’s not wailing. It’s not even shrieking. It’s screeching. Screeching is the worst, especially at the decibel levels that my children, who all inherited their mama’s big lungs, can achieve.

And this wasn’t just momentary screeching. It was inconsolable screeching. In stereo.

And I thought, “Gee, thanks, Lord.” (I am convinced that God is fluent in sarcasm in such cases as these).

I shoved bananas into four little outstretched, flailing hands. I prayed, stream-of-consciousness style. I pushed the basket back and forth enough to wear grooves in the tile floor.

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{Look how angelic I am. I would neverput my mama through any kind of discomfort in public}

Nothing worked. The girls woke up disoriented and hungry, and nothing—not even the sight of food and a familiar face—was going to rob them of their opportunity to express their displeasure.

At some point, I stopped praying, “Please make them stop,” ad infinitum and prayed this instead: “Okay, Lord. I get it. They’re not going to stop right now. So forget whatever’s easiest. Please, just do whatever sanctifies me most.”

I would love to tell you that they stopped crying immediately. That Della stopped yanking on my shirt while droning, “MAH-ma, MAH-ma, MAH-ma” on a constant loop. That I looked up to discover all of my groceries magically and neatly bagged and deposited in my basket. That I felt even a tiny bit less tense.

None of that was true, though. In fact, I think the screeching reached new heights, and a lady a lane away chose that moment to lean over and holler, “ARE THEY TWINS??”

But as I heaved a box of diapers into the basket with one hand and attempted to force-feed a banana to Nola with the other, I heard a quiet voice say, “What can I do to help?”

I looked up to discover my friend, Holly, a fellow mama of five (although hers are older), leaning in with an expression that said, “I totally get this. I’ve been there. We both know this is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it kind of stinks right now.” There honestly wasn’t much for her to do. I was almost done loading the basket. Getting the twins out of their car seats was only a temporary fix that I couldn’t sustain. I just needed to get the heck outta Dodge. But her expression and those calm, quiet words were helping already.

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{Deep in concentration, planning her next moment of public mayhem}

Sadly, I couldn’t leave quite yet since I needed to go to the in-store bank, which was a whopping ten feet away. So, I wheeled my basket of apple juice and bawling children over to the bank desk and finally capitulated to releasing the twins from their seats, since it’s awfully hard to tell the cashier you only want 10’s and 20’s when she can’t even hear you over the screaming (by the way, I think getting your license back from someone while holding a baby on each hip should be an Olympic sport).

Before I knew it, Holly was by my side again, filling out deposit slips and helping reposition car seats and babies. Just as I finally started to wheel my way towards the exit, a man came up to Holly and started chatting about life. I heard him say something about Super Mom (Holly) coming to my rescue and about how he had five kids now too.

I had Nola on my hip, Evy strapped into the seat in the front of the basket, and Della riding on the side. And everyone was finally and blessedly (mostly) quiet.

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At some point during the unloading process at the van, I noticed that my basket was resting against the truck next to me. And I looked up to discover the owner, who looked vaguely familiar, approaching. I started to apologize and drag my cart away from his truck, but he waved me off and said, “No worries. I have kids too. I know how it is.” And I realized that, of all the people that I could have parked beside, I had ended up next to Holly’s friend, a fellow parent of 5.

I smiled and said, “Yeah. It’s fun. And I mean that, even though the last 10 minutes were not my favorite.”

He grinned back and said, “Yep. It’s hard. And fun. And the two don’t cancel each other out. Praise the Lord for that.”

And then he helped me load my groceries and left with a, “God bless you. Have a great day!”

Y’ALL.

Can I just say how thankful I am that God sometimes ignores my survival prayers? That, instead, He looks deeper into my true needs and hears me best in my moments of submission and brokenness?

Because what I needed most that day was not just for the babies to stop crying. That was just survival. What I needed most was an opportunity for surrender and an assurance that I’m not alone. That there are others who have gone before me and lived to tell about it…and help others who are coming behind them. What I needed was an encouragement to do the same. That’s sanctification. And the Lord gave me that. Twice.

Right after we got in the car, I heard these words on the radio:

Nothing formed against me shall stand.

You hold the whole world in your hands.

I’m holding onto your promises.

You are faithful. You are faithful.

Amen and amen.

P.S. I do not actually think that having screaming babies in Wal-Mart for ten minutes is a huge hardship. I am grateful that they are alive and well and healthy-lunged. Neither do I think that anyone is doing anything wrong by asking, “Are they twins?” or “Why are they crying?” Also, I’m sure there’s something practical I could have done to avoid something like this scenario in the future. If you have any of these concerns or any others I’ve missed, feel free to share them. But I hope you hear my heart in this and not just the specific details that stand out along the way.

P.P.S. If you’d like to hear a little more about my Mama-ing process, head on over to Brown Sugar Toast and read my portion of a fun Mom Series she has going on just in time for Mother’s Day.

P.P.P.S. (: )) Speaking of Mother’s Day, have you entered to win a set of Mama printables yet?

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8 thoughts on “Nothing formed against me shall stand—not even screeching toddlers

  1. Abby, You are my favorite blog/Instagram to read. Unlike any other I’ve seen, there isn’t an ounce of anything that has the purpose of “showing off” what a great mom, wife, fitness guru, healthiest eater, etc etc. You just are so down to earth, so real, so.funny, say it how it is, and encouraging! I love the pics of a messy house, stories of real times of everyday struggle and your sense of humor. Thanks for this post! I have sooo been there solo many times with my babes!

  2. Loved this post. I felt like I was standing there with you. The way you ended the story brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. I was shopping with my then probably 12 month old and as I hit the checkout line, he decided that he had enough of the cart and screamed unless I held him. I was trying to balance him on my hip and unload the groceries (and keep track of my almost 5 and 3 year old) and a lady saw me struggling and came over and helped me put all of the groceries on the belt and seriously it was the best thing ever. I was so thankful and I was able to check out without much of a hitch. Those little things make all the difference and I want to remember that when my kids are older and help the sweet mama who just has her hands too full at the moment.

  4. Long, long ago when I was pregnant with my youngest I was having a rough time wrangling my others through Costco. By the time I got them out to the car and buckled into their seats I was pretty much in tears. An older mom came up and told me she had seen me in the store, offered some sweet words of encouragement and then asked if she could pray for me. There was no way she knew I was a believer but the fact that she took that chance and prayed for me right there in the Costco parking lot is a blessing I’ll never, ever forget.

  5. While I didn’t necessarially need to read about screaming twins today, I DID need to read that God is on the throne. I recently had a miscarriage and suspect I’m pregnant again. It is terrifying to think about losing another child, and through you and your experience, He reminded me that he knows and has everything lovingly under control! Much love sister!

  6. Thanks for sharing! For a good spell of laughing, grab some girlfriends and head to the movie, Mom’s Night Out.

I love hearing from you guys!