A large part of me did not want to take the boys out for the evening. Work had taken it all out of me, but in an effort to get out of the house and socialize, I loaded them in the car and away we went.
The boys and I met up with my coworkers for some holiday shopping. Each year, our department sponsors several children in need and then we make a night out of shopping for the items on their wish list. I thought it would be a great opportunity to put all of our talks about giving into practice. They were excited and even though they were full of energy, they were pretty well-behaved.
Mom: 1, Wal-Mart: 0
That’s a stat I almost never see.
As promised, we headed to McDonald’s for dinner. They have a PlayPlace and as winter has begun to descend on us, our need to burn this pent-up energy is apparent.
A long line had already formed and while we were waiting, my oldest decided to sit in one of the “spinny chairs.” After too many warnings from me, he spun it so hard that he flew off and hurt himself. Next, he decided to run off and attempt to get ketchup before we had even placed our order. The act of me chasing him down resulted in us losing our place in line. Now we had to go to the end and wait even longer.
When we finally reached the counter, I placed our order. In the ten seconds it took me to order their nuggets, my oldest had taken out five ‘Caution: Wet Floor’ signs and arranged them in McDonald’s lobby. What is he, a ninja? Where is this speed and intensity when I ask him to clean up his toys each night?
I hurriedly paid and then had him pick up the signs and put them back where they belonged. Two guys my age were in line beside us and kind of chuckled while saying, “He sure does seem like a handful.” I nodded and said, “You have no idea.”
Once our order was ready, I grabbed the tray while holding my youngest and managed to fill our drink and stock up on ketchup. As soon as I picked the tray up again, my legs were hit as if I was being tackled by a defensive end. Somehow I managed to balance the tray and hold my son while my other son gave me that knee-buckling hug. If he remembers that technique, he’ll be the next JJ Watt.
We made our way to a table and I began to arrange the food. Immediately, sleeves were dipped in ketchup as the boys reached for their fries and soda was spilled from our cup. By the grace of God I was able to keep my cool and patiently clean up our messes. I then held the boys’ hands and we prayed over our meal.
I was completely unprepared for what happened next. The guys who had been standing in line next to us earlier walked past our table and simply said, “You’re a good mom.” I thanked them as tears welled in my eyes. I have no idea why I reacted with so much emotion. I was in the middle of a rough couple of minutes, but it was otherwise a fun night. Perhaps it was the fact that the source of this encouragement was so unexpected; it caught me off guard and made me realize how much I needed to hear it.
Sometimes we just need to hear it. Sometimes we just need the assurance. Let me be the one to tell you, “You’re a good mom. You’re a great mom.” Your hard work is not in vain. Even if your kids don’t entirely understand all that you do right now, other people notice. God certainly notices. It doesn’t take much effort to encourage one another and in the process make someone’s day.
I have never been so glad that I took two kids, by myself, to Wal-Mart and McDonald’s.