Always Watching

gianna, blog

You know what I’ve missed on the blog? Just talking. About life. About motherhood.

Yes, I’ve chatted about cloth diapers, camp, women’s conferences and the like. And I have loved every minute. But sometimes I just really miss talking to y’all about my current state. I really miss my late night writing sessions. Right now, they’re consumed with cluster feeding Gianna (not complaining!) and I’m totally okay with that. It’s just hard when two things you love fall at the exact same time.

Life with six kids, right?

I toyed with doing my usual Friday seven quick takes, but today I just wanted to write without the confines of having it fit within seven neat categories. So, here goes.

This week was a real humdinger. We made the marathon 18-hour drive to get the kids from camp, with Gianna in tow. Now that I type that it sounds insane. But at the time, it seemed totally logical. We just had so many stops because she was hungry and a little fussy. But, we enjoyed the quiet time on the drive up with no little people to argue about the air conditioning, the foot space and the sibling next to them.

It was lovely.

But then we returned home to 12, count ’em, TWELVE seizure-like episodes with sweet G. It sucked. Mostly because 80% of them occurred at 3am. Do you know how NOT rational you are at 3am? Yes, I’m pretty sure you do. So, after that crazy, zero sleep and the last full week of summer I was already tapped out come Monday morning at 10am. Not a real stellar way to start the week.

And then came the camp laundry. The piles of horrific nastiness. It’s the price you pay for that week of quiet. I’m happy to pay it, but wow. That was some serious gross.

On Tuesday, we had a 4-H event that lasted all morning. The kids had a grand time and I was just happy to see my beloved Dr Pepper at 11am.

Wednesday, I threw all caution to the wind and went shoe shopping and grocery shopping all in the same morning. Clearly, I’ve learned nothing as a mother. Stop right now if you’re looking at our life and thinking, “they’re doing it right.” Because we’re not. Who in their right state of mind takes six kids shoe shopping with the greater Austin area with a fussy baby who isn’t napping AND THEN goes to the grocery store? {raises hand}

I also made the colossal mistake of not showering. Ugh. Bad idea on many, many levels.

After the “I can’t wear Skechers, Mom, those are dork shoes” comment at Academy and the half dozen eye rolls from numerous shoppers at HEB, I was just over it. Over. It. All. And then the checker at HEB spotted our family in line and says, “Oh, you have five?” And I thought to myself, brace yourself Kathryn. Don’t go mental on her. I just knew there would be some quippy remark when I corrected her and told her, there were, in fact, six children in tow.

So I told her. Her response? “I’m one of 10. I love big families!”

And I almost broke down in HEB. There on aisle 23. The mom who really needed concealer, a shower and a Dr Pepper almost lost her composure with the loveliest of checkers. A beautiful conversation ensued about big families, how life is never boring and how much she adores her mom. Then I happened to check my texts and my mom said, “Hey, let’s do lunch.”


We dropped the groceries at the house and we went to lunch, in all our disorganized chaos. In our mismatched outfits, crocs with socks and me, in the yogas. It was pretty much the most awesome lunch ever.

Riding that high, we decided to do back-to-school haircuts today. Y’all. It’s as if I have a deathwish. But, the hair had to be cut and I wasn’t going to be doing it, so off we trotted. Amazingly, those 3am prayers kicked in and the kids were angels. Complete and total. It was like a weird, out-of-body experience. But, I hesitated and got nervous when a young executive walked in, looked at our crew and silently walked to the counter to put his name on the list.

I just knew he was counting how many people were ahead of him.

Then Gianna started to fuss, so I nursed her. I could feel the eyes. They felt judgey. But she was hungry, so I powered on. After our three haircuts and a bang trim, I quickly went to the counter to pay and I heard it. That man’s voice. I just knew what was coming. “Wow, I thought I had my hands full with two,” he said. I smiled. So did he. Our hairdresser motioned to the kids and said, “They’re good kids.”

“I know,” he said. “I’ve been watching.”

And for the first time all week, I was speechless.

We had a lovely conversation. He was dying to know what kind of car we drove to fit all the kids, how old everyone was and what the kids were most excited about doing once school started. He was just a dad, of two little girls, who recognized another parent in the trenches.Β And it felt good to hear him say, “I’ve been watching.” Because he saw the good. The funny. The reality. And it was good.

Thank you, Mr. Executive with your fancy haircut and namebadge, for giving me the parent high-five today. Thank you, HEB checker, for reminding me that kindness matters. Thank you, God, for such a fruitful life lesson to close the summer.

Love your life.

And also, don’t go shoe shopping and grocery shopping in the same morning.


  1. Micaela @ California to Korea on August 15, 2014 at 1:56 am

    Well, this completely brought tears to my eyes. Isn’t it just crazy when we get all prepared for the judgey and instead we get gob-smacked with the kind and comforting? Thank God for the Checker and the Executive, and everyone else like them.

    Kiss sweet baby G for me. I’ll have my Gianna start praying for her, too.

  2. Annery on August 15, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Just loved this. So glad you ran into some kindness on your whirlwind of productivity πŸ™‚

  3. Beth (A Moms Life) on August 15, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Don’t you just love it when God sends you exactly what you need exactly when you need it?

    And what the heck were you thinking – shoes and groceries in one morning? I’m getting chills just thinking about it.

    Prayers for Gianna and those seizures. I can only imagine how hard it is to watch as that’s going on.

  4. Violet on August 15, 2014 at 8:36 am

    This great-grandmother would like to know how to pronounce Gianna? Love the name but just wonder…phonics for me, maybe? Smiles.

    • Kathryn on August 15, 2014 at 10:47 am

      Sure thing! It’s GEE-ahn-nuh

  5. Nicole on August 15, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Oh goodness – 12 seizures? How rough for your heart. Is she doing okay? I can’t imagine. Prayers sent to her (and you and your husband) to get through these.

    And I also can’t imagine doing the grocery and shoe shopping in one morning! However, that’s exactly what we have on tap for tomorrow with my two. Except our morning will commence with haicuts, continue to shoes and then the grocery (road trip groceries, mind you, so hoping it’s not as bad as I picture in my head). I think I will be ready for a margarita by 11:30 AM. Thanks for sharing your journey of that day. I will be thinking of you, knowing that if you can get through it, then I can too. Thank you for sharing all that you do.

  6. LeAnna on August 15, 2014 at 9:29 am

    I’m impressed that you completed the shoe shopping & grocery shopping before lunch. If I try to add grocery shopping onto any other activity we inevitably overrun a meal time!

  7. Verdina on August 15, 2014 at 9:45 am

    You are the bomb! I took one 5-yr-old for a haircut yesterday. I had to bribe him with a McDonald’s picnic at the park.

    Two girls (6th grade & 3rd grade) will NOT have their hair cut! I used to be able to tell them they just need to trim off the dead ends, but that doesn’t seem to be working these days. And their hair is so THICK!

    But, I’m just the grandma… so I’ll try to leave that to the mom.

    God bless you!

  8. Courtney Schlichte on August 15, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I have a child who has seizures as well…..they are so tough to watch as a mom….but all you can do is love them, talk them through it, comfort them when it’s over, love on them more, and PRAY!! We are praying for your sweet little girl and hoping she out grows them quickly.

    • Kathryn on August 15, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      That makes two of us Courtney. I’m sorry to hear you have one with seizures, too. No kid should have to endure those.

  9. Natalie on August 15, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I love your posts about motherhood because you always find a way to put a positive spin on things. Plus, you can find the humor which is always fun. Reading these posts is very uplifting, and your tone although positive never veers into self-satisfaction or judgement of others. You can’t say that about every blog!

    • Kathryn on August 15, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      I think the humor comes from survival – I can laugh or cry, and laughing is so much easier on the mascara. Thank you πŸ™‚

  10. Catholic Lawyer Mama on August 15, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    This one totally brought me to tears. I feel “judged” so often, and I only have three! Gosh, I’m so glad not everyone in the world is all judgey! Hugs!

  11. Aileen on August 15, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    This had me teary-eyed. Those sweet, kind people!! And baby Gianna – many prayers for her!

  12. Veronica on August 15, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    You are awesome!! I want to be like Kathryn Whitaker when I grow up. Victoria and I are still praying for Gianna with every rosary.

  13. Bonnie on August 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    What a great story about Mr. Executive! Thanks for sharing, K.

    • Kathryn on August 15, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      I feel like packing that man into my van for pep talks now and then!

  14. Tess on August 15, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes! What a fantastic and inspiring series of events. It’s so great to find support in unlikely places. You are super mom! πŸ™‚

  15. Tara on August 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Beautiful! I’ve missed reading your “just talking” posts. The same way that Mr. Executive gave you a parent high-five, I feel like reading your posts about your current state give me a parent high-five. Thanks for doing what you do!

    • Kathryn on August 15, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      I’ve missed writing them. Thank you so much!

  16. Maureen on August 15, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I don’t know if I have ever commented before but I will admit that I am one of your readers who often is just in awe of “how together” you are. Thanks so much for your honesty and transparency. This was such a beautiful post. Know that I will pray for you and for Giana. It is so hard to watch our children struggle in any fashion. You really are an inspiration.

    • Kathryn on August 15, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      If you were a fly on my wall today, you would not see “together” – and that’s the case for many days! We’re just all in this motherhood gig together. Thank you so much for your kind words and for your prayers for Gianna!

  17. mary on August 15, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    That Miss Gianna knows how to keep you on your toes! I am one of eight and I remember hair cut days. One after another, after another. Thank goodness for the lollipops. LOL! One day at a time my friend. One day at a time!!

  18. Chris on August 16, 2014 at 10:03 am

    After your post on FB about HEB I realized I have never asked my good friend with five about whether she gets these rude comments. So I did and of course she does ALL.THE.TIME. She also gets the added “benefit” of adoption questions because her husband is of Phillipino descent!! (She is not)

  19. Audreyy on August 17, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I just loved this post! Thank you for writing it as I needed to hear these words today. I’m struggling with being the only “mom of lots of kids” in a sea of 2 kid families today. Good luck to you and prayers for Gianna:)

    • Kathryn on August 17, 2014 at 10:01 am

      Hang in there momma!

  20. Holly on August 27, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    You are just THE BEST!! Love listening to your life stories, and will pray for little Gianna.

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