Tuesday, January 22

A Strawberry Danish Broken in Two

it is one of those moments
as you are finishing a stroll through the mall.
it feels lonely, yet not quiet,
because the babies are crying
and judgmental eyes lay on you from every corner.
"you don't know my story"
you want to tell them.
"we just moved here and don't have our stuff.
the girls are getting over a cold
and daddy is 2,150 miles away on a business trip.
and beyond that, we are stir crazy wherever we are
because the apartment feels small
but the stroller isn't much better.

and the mommy you strive to be
is lost in emotions of overwhelmingness and sadness and stress.
you forget that bad days are allowed and just feel guilty
because God has blessed you with so much and how dare you feel sad.

and suddenly, you find yourself standing at the dead end of the mall
in a panera bread
blankly staring at the menu
while the girls cry to "eat" and "out" and "more".

and you love being a mom, their mom.
and normally, you would whip out your bag of mommy tricks
to help subdue those cries of "eat" and "out" and "more".
but today, the diaper bag seems to only be filled with snotty tissues and empty pouches
and you have nothing to help them.
quite frankly, you just want to cry alongside of them
because today is feeling like a really hard day.
you miss your life, your stuff, your friends.

and as you stand there in panera bread,
you start feeding yourself more mommy guilt
because how can you not keep it together at the mall
and why did you not bring better toys and more snacks
and how do you not know how to help your children stop crying?

and then suddenly, you snap out of the overwhelmed daze you find yourself in
as a sweet bakery worker comes up to your stroller with sympathetic eyes and says
"they can eat sweets?"
and you realize she had taken a strawberry danish from the bakery,
broken it in half, wrapped the two halves in paper,
and has knelt down by your stroller.

you humbly shake your head yes and feel the tears brimming
as the woman hands your crying toddlers a piece of bread to calm their tears.
it works and works also for your soul
as it allows you to take a breath and refocus.

and finally, you order a half grilled cheese/half tuna fish
and an iced tea.
and you only say thank you
but you say it in a way to mean
not just thank you for the sandwich
but for not judging and for sharing kindness and bread instead.

"I can remember those days" she says
and you know she means the hard ones
because she remembers those days came too
and while it was all good, it was also sometimes not.

and that's all she says.
she doesn't try to tell you to enjoy it while you can
because she knows you already know that.
she knows that right now all you really need is to not be judged,
but to be loved and extended grace instead.

and just like that, a strawberry danish and a kind stranger turns your whole day around
and you leave Panera Bread not only with a full belly,
but a full heart too.

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