There are people out there, mostly friends and acquaintances, (certainly not knowing family members) who have come to some sort of conclusion that I really have it all together as a mom. Notice: having eleven children does not mean you have it all together. In fact, it most likely means you have very little together and whatever you are bold enough to think you actually do have together is certain to be quickly unraveling.
Case in point. For several years I had the bad reputation (well deserved) for forgetting my children. Yes, I really would leave them, forget them, or just plain not notice that they had not made it into the van. Chet got left at church, Dana got left at a camp ground, Troy got left at the library, Dana got left at the library, Chet got left at Wal Mart, Troy got left at home. Do you notice a pattern? Children numbers 4, 5, and 6 when we had six, seven, or eight. There were some good excuses--counted heads and then Chet ducked out to go use the bathroom, Dad was driving and I assumed he was doing the counting, counted heads on the way out of the store and Chet ducked out again to use the bathroom. I usually discovered the absence quickly--OK, except for when I left the library, stopped at the grocery store, and drove ten miles before realizing that THREE YEAR OLD Troy was still at the library. That was in the days before cell phones and I deserved the agonizing drive back to town where I found him happily entertained by a librarian who should have a license for the "evil eye of disapproval" she gave to me. My favorite response, however, was 8-year-old Chet's when he was left at Wal Mart. We were on our way to the library and then to McDonald's. I only got about 1/4 mile from the store, turned around, and pulled up to see Chet calmly waiting on a bench at the store entrance. He hopped in and I asked how he had remained so calm. He responded, "Well, I just figured you would remember me when you were done eating and you saw that you had one hamburger leftover."
I finally got the brilliant idea of having everyone number off in birth order (wasn't that tough to figure out!) and they all had to count before I put the van in drive. One of Bryce's first words was "Eight!" By the time Lisa could chime in we were often missing 1, 2, 3, and 4 and since I had to really think about who was and wasn't with me I didn't have any more trouble leaving people.
Until last Wednesday. Of course, I should have realized that when Dad walked out of the house with four children and said, "I'm leaving" and my two daughters were in their room and planning to drive separately, and I had to grab the diaper bag and then run downstairs to grab diapers because the bag was empty, and I started the dishwasher and ran out to join my husband, and his car was gone, and I assumed he wanted to get going to pick up another son from the ball park and left me to go with the girls.....then I should have realized that he only took two children and left the other two in the van for me to drive! But, I didn't. At least, not until Owen met me at church and let me know that Bryce (11) and Gabe (2) were still home.
Unlike Troy, Bryce did not try to run to church. I've hammered it in--STAY IN ONE SPOT, I WILL COME BACK FOR YOU. And he did. He stayed right there in that van with Gabe until I pulled in the driveway. I could try numbers again but 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 might just confuse Gabe when he learns to count.