Every once in a while, you bump into someone or something that makes you pause. It shakes you out of your current train of thought and sort of smacks you in the face. Some times it’s little, and you don’t realize it until much later, but it changes your perspective. That’s what happened to me a few weeks back at the craft store.
I had to run a quick errand during my lunch break, which meant braving the typical lunch crowd, the week before Christmas crowds, and the full force of the winter clean up crew that was still putting down salt and plowing side roads. To say I wasn’t thrilled would be an understatement. The problem is, the errand was at the craft store, and the craft store has this way of sucking me in. That day it was the 70% off sign above the Christmas crafts that dragged me away from the true purpose of being there. I browsed the racks of giant cardboard coloring and building crafts, small paint sets, foam building sets, ornament kits, etc. and started the internal debate I always have with myself.
My son would love these, BUT we already have so many things like this. He would really love these, BUT they’d end up in the trash in two days. Man, he would really love these, BUT he’d probably make a huge mess with these paints. They are 70% off… that’s less than a dollar… that’s basically free… I basically have to buy these, BUT… BUT… BUT…
And then it happened. I heard her voice. She was just on the other side of the display. I listened to this magical mother voice tell her two small squirming boys, why don’t you pick one out! “This is going to be so much fun!” she said. I glanced up, the two boys with huge grins trying to decide what craft they wanted. Both boys were clad in their Christmas jammies. I went to smile at the mom, and then realized she was also in her Christmas jammies. She was living the dream. I unintentionally overheard the rest of her conversation as I debated $0.50 crafts and was in awe at her perspective. “Boys, what do you want to look at next?” “Should we get another craft for tomorrow?” Her youngest started to fuss, and she perfectly and gracefully handled it. I went down the next aisle to continue browsing. A little later, they came down the same aisle. In the most excited voice, she said, “Oh, boys! I have a great idea!! Why don’t we get this for mommy and you can paint it for me for my Christmas present! It will be SO GREAT!”
This woman was an angel. The look on those boys’ faces was priceless. She made them feel so important, and it took almost nothing. Patience, love, and a level of calm I’ll never have when it comes to arts and crafts.
That woman may have screamed at her children the second they got in the car, she may have sent them to nap without snacks, or maybe she had a meltdown that evening. Any way you look at it, I only saw a tiny window into her day with her kids, but that’s all it took to shift my perspective a little bit. I should have told her thank you, I should have shouted it across the store intercom. Thank you for that small window into your afternoon, for making me pause and re-assess my own approach that day. For convincing me that my internal struggle over a $0.50 paint set that will probably create a mess is completely worth it. To just bring a little bit of crazy, a little bit of fun, a lot of a mess, and some whim to our day.
I walked out of that store with 2 paint sets and a new perspective for the day. But I don’t want to lose that feeling. It was the perfect reminder at the perfect moment that our kids are just little humans doing their best in a world they don’t understand yet. It’s not just ourselves that deserve grace on our bad days or our tough times, but also to give them grace on theirs.
I know that I say “no” too often. I am too quick to stop things that are messy, complicated, or might take too much time. I want to say yes more. I want to be excited about small things that are big victories. But mostly, I want to thank you, momma in the craft aisle, because you’ve given me more than you know.
I want to take more time this year to pause and give thanks – for my kids, for good moments, for small victories, but mostly for mom friends who are just rocking it. I only wish I had said something to thank that Christmas PJ wearing, fun-having, magic, rocking it momma for changing my perspective. Cheers to you, my friends, to all of you knocking it out of the park, and even those who aren’t, (I’ll be here with an extra glass of wine for you).