I feel like I'm pretty real in my writing, with equal parts trial and joy, struggles and successes. There are plenty of times I write about our whack-a-mole life and the crazy, busy, loud, wild stuff, but today....this is a story about the other side.
I adore my children and the life I lead as their mom, but people, it's just tough. If you've got one little cherub and think you're tired...no offense, but just wait! If you plan to add to your brood, everything increases exponentially! Love, along with sleep deprivation, food bills, noise and most likely, your blood pressure! Sometimes, that's what makes the stories fun. It's the same thing that makes Christmas morning equal parts exhilarating and exhausting. I love every second of it, but am SO glad when it's over. Well, eating out is no different. It's like constant manners reminders, napkin passing, and food swapping, in between shoveling bites into my own mouth before the vultures devour it all!
Enter our Tuesday town day. We leave at 8:00am, for back, to back, to back appointments of one sort or the other, followed immediately by Kroger click-list pick up, and lunch, which up until a couple weeks ago, was always Wendy's because the five of us can eat for about $15 and this mom's on a budget. A couple weeks ago, tired of fast food burgers, I remembered Kroger has a salad bar, hot food and a place to sit and eat, so, full of trepidation, we tried it out. It was wonderful. The five of us ate for about $20, but it was fresh salad and delicious chicken strips, followed by those little sugar cookies from the ladies at the deli for the kids. I love a Wendy's burger, but this was such a nice change!
So, today, after swim lessons, the kids asked to go back there to eat and get some salad, chicken and fruit, so we did. I loaded down a salad plate, then ordered our chicken strips and potato wedges, sent Timothy for five packs of silverware and headed to a table. My kids, were still very much my kids. They talk to any, and everyone, they touch almost everything, I have to keep telling them to back up from the food, and they are 'a lot', but... they smile, they're friendly and they're helpful. We got our food to a table and I started divvying the bounty...chicken, fries, fruit...."more please", "yum, this is so good", "I don't like the fries, mom". And then a lady walks up from behind the counter. She was carrying a salad box full of lovely iced cookies!
She said, as she approached, "Mom, if it's ok, we'd all like to give these to your kids. You guys have been in here a couple times and they always have such nice manners and are so well behaved." **kids lit up, my jaw dropped** "We see everything in here and believe me, your children are wonderful, and it's so nice to see, so we just wanted you all to have these."
Thank goodness my kids all jumped in with excited thank you's, because I was just trying not to cry! I get so used to hearing all the other stuff... "Wow, they are busy", "You sure have your hands full", "I don't know how you do it"... that to hear this sweet lady so earnestly praise them... Well, I really have no words. Sometimes, when you need it the most, someone drops and encouraging word, and this was most certainly one of those times. She made my kids day with a cookie, but she made mine by seeing 'us'. By seeing through the busy and the loud, and taking note of the happy, sweet, kind kids I know are in there. I can get so wrapped up in the multitude of their behaviors, it doesn't matter if it's good, bad or otherwise, it' just a lot, that I can sometimes overlook 'them'. They laughed and smiled as they enjoyed those cookies, sticky fingers, crumbs and all, and I sat back to take them all in. Every detail of their voices, their faces, their hands... With a few pretty cookies and an encouraging word from a kind deli lady, I saw my kids with fresh eyes, and a renewed heart. So, thank you Kroger lady, for stepping out in kindness to us. Those cookies meant so much more than you can imagine.