Sunday, May 3, 2009
Feeding my Family
Yesterday, for what must have been the thousandth time, I was told again "I'd hate to pay your grocery bill!" I know its an interesting topic of conversation and I need to lighten up about it. For the record, I spend about $150 a week for groceries for my family (I love Aldi!) We go through 10 boxes of cereal, 5 gallons of milk, 6 loaves of bread, 3 jars of peanut butter-you get the picture. The kids have been using about 2 large jars of jelly a week, thank God for the grape vine arbor in our backyard! I wrote this story in response to an April Fool's article by Archbishop Dolan and then sent him a copy. He must have been praying for me, because I have not heard one rude comment since I shared this story with him. It may be that others have stopped commenting to me about my groceries, or possibly, that I have stopped being so sensitive to the remarks and have come to realize that some people are terribly lonely and I am an easy target for conversation. I am learning to make friends in the grocery store instead of enemies. Praise God!
The Fool in the Grocery Store
Jesus, I am a fool for your love. There is no time when I feel more foolish than when I shop for groceries for my family. Thursday is grocery shopping day at our house, Lord. Our cupboards are bare and we scrounge for tasty foods to eat for breakfast on Thursdays. My children complain that we’re out of milk for cereal, or the waffles remain, but we have no syrup to douse them with. So, as soon as I’m through working on Thursday afternoon, it’s off to Aldi I go to replenish our food supplies before I pick the children up from school.
I carry my three recycled banana boxes, plunk my quarter into the cart and begin my weekly chore of loading up my cart with healthy foods for my family and emptying my wallet of my hard earned money. By the time I reach the checkout, my cart is overflowing and I can barely see past it. Now, the comments begin. From the checker who exclaims “I’ve never seen such a large order before” to the fellow shoppers with their incredulous questions such as, “How many children do you have?” or” You must have a large family!” or “Are you shopping for a group home?” or “Do you really use all that milk?” I continue to cringe, not just from the comments and questions, but also from the stares, pointing and outright laughter that is directed my way. Look at the fool in the grocery store!
Sometimes, I try to justify my foolish behavior by telling my inquisitors my well rehearsed and often repeated truthful answer, “I have five children, four of them are boys and three of them are teenagers. I shop like this every week and yes, I’m Catholic!”
Other times, I tire of explaining my foolish antics and snarl a snappy answer like “I don’t have any children, I’m just very hungry!” or “I’m shopping for the hungry, care to contribute?” or “I tell my children not to eat, but they won’t listen to me!” And in one moment when I really felt pushed to the edge by nosy strangers with rude comments I regretfully answered “Yes, I have five wonderful children and the only chore I dread doing for them is grocery shopping because I have to put up with rude comments!”
Forgive me, Lord, for not bearing with your request to be a fool for you with meek humility. These children I shop for are not mine, they are yours. You have a purpose for them and it is my responsibility to nourish them with healthy food so they can grow strong in body, mind and spirit so to serve you and love you with all of their being.
Who am I to complain about this task? It is a great honor that you have placed upon my shoulders, to serve you by serving them. Help me to accomplish this mission with love, joy and peace in my heart. Help me to see that you are also in the inquisitive fellow shoppers in the store, and to always respond to their questions with love and patience.
The next time I receive stares and questions about my shopping habits, give me the grace to foolishly respond “I am married to a wonderful man and God has blessed us with five beautiful children. And guess what? We eat! Please keep us in your prayers!” Amen.