Today, I decided to check out a park nearby that I’d heard about from a mom at MOPS last week. After a late start, I was strapping my daughter, Noelle, into her car seat about 30 minutes before I usually put her down for her afternoon nap. The sun was in her eyes for most of the 11 minute drive, so she was a bit groggy when I plucked her out of the seat to strapped her into the stroller. I wanted to scope out the park with her in the stroller and see what all was there to explore, but as soon as we passed by the playground just for little ones, I knew I had to stop and let her out. Even though my girl has started to walk (albeit VERY shakily), she immediately started crawling around the wood chipped ground. I corralled her to the stairs so she could climb and then slide down the slide. I could hear this woman incessantly giving restrictions to this adorable little girl in a skirt. “Don’t go down that slide. It’s all wet. Don’t crawl on the ground, you’ll get your outfit all dirty. No, don’t go there…” I mean, why take your kid to the playground if you won’t let her get dirty? So, already I had a bad attitude about this lady from afar. Then, Noelle wanted to go over to the see saw where the lady and the little girl were. She crawled over to the little girl, and waved, and said, “Hi.” The girl was a little shy, so she didn’t say anything. The lady just commanded the girl, “Don’t push down the seat or you’ll bump that baby’s head.” Ugh, I couldn’t take it, so I intended to duck under the see saw bar to take Noelle to another, more welcoming spot on the playground. Unfortunately, my baseball hat prevented me from seeing how low the bar was, and I smacked my head right into it. “SH*T!” I erupted. “That hurt!” I grabbed Noelle, sort of gave a conciliatory look to the little girl, and marched over to the swings on the opposite end of the playground. I was embarrassed, ashamed, angry, and wanted to cry. By the time we got to the car, I was done. I put Noelle back into her car seat, gave her the “fireplace” book (Goodnight Moon), and got in. When I turned the key to the engine, I realized I’d left her passenger side door wide open. Gah!
We had nothing for dinner, so I had to stop by the grocery store before we could go home. I decided to stop at ALDI since we were just a mile away. As we walked up to the carts, I was pretty pleased that I actually had a quarter on me so I could get a cart. Once inside, the place was a zoo. Noelle was so ready for a nap, she whined the whole time. I didn’t know where anything was, so naturally we had to walk through every aisle at least twice. By the time I’d gotten everything on my list, Noelle didn’t want to sit in the seat anymore so she stood up, ignoring the strap around her chest. I couldn’t let her stand, so I held her as we stood in line. Again, I wanted to cry. She was leaning over so she could pretend she was pushing the cart, so all I had to hold onto was her leg and bottom. Blessedly, a grandmotherly lady got in line behind us and started talking to Noelle. Noelle immediately started smiling and stopped breaking my back by leaning over to push the cart. Seeing that I was struggling, the lady offered to help unload my cart to put the groceries on the checkout conveyor belt. “Thank you so much,” I gushed. “You made my afternoon so much better.” She really did. That small gesture meant so much and totally revised my attitude. Sometimes that’s all we need. Even if our circumstances don’t change, someone smiling or doing something nice that we don’t expect can absolutely revise our mindset. I got to the car and thanked God for giving me that ray of sunshine, even though I’d felt like I’d blown it earlier. I pray that my eyes would be open so that I can be that person for others, and am so thankful for those that do the same for me. And thank God for his grace that allows for revisions.
Full disclosure: this took about 25 minutes to write