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It's All in How You Look at It


by Catie Hayes of

Today I bravely faced the demon known in my house as Not Back to School Shopping and am pleased to report that I, along with my children, have survived. If it weren't for the fact that these kids insist upon constant excessive vertical growth, I'd avoid all stores this time of year.

Now entering any store with two boys under the age of ten, let alone without the promise of new toys, is as enjoyable as a unanesthetized oral surgery. This is a given. Logic dictates I make such trips on the rare occasion I don't have them, but logic has no place in the clothing of my children. Alas, they are built like tall, lanky tube socks, and finding something that fits their waists without riding up to their knees is a miraculous event. So each year around this time, despite the fact we school at home, we haul hinnies to the store for cool weather clothes and foot coverings along with pretty much every other family in the state.

Now, each family is different, yet there are unshakable truths across the board; kids are crabby and bored silly, and parents are nursing internal primal screams. It's a small taste of purgatory encapsulated within a department store and all available for 15% off this week only.

So there I was doing my bit to aid the economy with my consumer dollar, assuring my kids aren't running around in flip-flops come Halloween, all the while wishing to astroproject anywhere else. It was not a pretty picture. While my youngest tried to persuade me a pair of sneaker/inline skates really is the thing for him, I noticed a mom helping her son try on new sneakers. He squirmed, complaining they didn't look like boys' sneakers, a common scene with any boy. What caught my attention, though, was that they were looking for the best pair to accommodate his leg braces. Suddenly, my youngest demonstrating movements akin to an electrocuted squid, blocking the already crowded aisle, or my oldest insisting on tying fourteen consecutive knots in the laces of his new hiking boots seemed innocuous.

Granted, my kids bludgeoned the remnants of my patience to a pulp, but there was an awful lot right with the picture at the same time. No matter how badly things have deteriorated between their father and I, at least I'm still in a position where I can buy them new shoes and warm clothes. We have a roof over our heads, and my kids have never gone to bed hungry. My youngest is able to sit still for less than a nanosecond, but he is strong, healthy, and can move freely. My oldest may take eons to tie his shoes, but he persists until it is done to his standards.

I left the mall with a splitting headache and a lighter wallet, but I looked at my kids a bit differently this afternoon. Being taken into the hallway tonight before bedtime so my youngest could privately tell me he loves me and always will really just cemented the deal. It is chaotic, insane, and at times grueling, but my life swells with blessings.

Catie Hayes is founder/editor of; a community of support, spirituality, growth and empowerment for women. She is a freelance writer, the single homeschooling mom of two, and an avid fan of laughter, spontaneous dancing, cats and chocolate (not necessarily in that order).

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