kicked in the travel gut
The Saturday before Thanksgiving we drove from Asheville to Orlando to meet my family for a week-long vacation and birthday celebration for my dad. After 8 hours on the road the babies were chirping, so we pulled off the interstate and looked for a suitable establishment. We decided on a pizza place. It was early and the restaurant was almost empty; just a set of grandparents and a little boy by the door, and a boothful of teens directly behind us.
Liv is 3 and Eliza is 1, okay? I have two little girls. And after 8 hours on the road, they were still smiling. Still giggling. Still enjoyable. I instagrammed this picture right after we ordered:
While we waited for our food, the todder squirmies threatened to strike. I quietly sang songs with them; The Itsy-bitsy Spider and the like. Neither of them fussed, neither of them whined. Eliza squealed loudly a few times, and while it was a little disruptive, she was obviously happy.
Our food came, and as we were wrapping up a little while later, an older couple entered the restaurant. The hostess walked them by our table and started to seat them in the now-empty booth behind me. The man was no more than 2 feet away, so close I could kick him in the shin if I wanted to, when he very clearly said, "Can we sit somewhere else? Away from the kids."
My face dropped and took both my stomach and my fork with it. I looked down at my plate, feeling nervous and hollow. Apologetic for something I had been so proud of just moments before.
This guy did nothing wrong in having a preference, okay? I know this. When you go out to eat, it's totally fine to care where you sit. It's understandable to want some peace and quiet, and neither of those is likely when you share the back of your booth with a 3 year old and a 1 year old. If anyone knows what it's like to dine with two young children, it's me.
And I don't think he really meant for me to hear him. But being on the receiving side of that, it made me feel so small. So inferior. We hadn't done anything wrong either, but the way he expressed his preference made me feel like we had.
Parenting is hard, right? We talk about it all the time. But when I talk about the difficulties, I usually focus on what's going on within the folds of our family. Liv was sent to time-out 17 times today, and Eliza would only eat dried apricots and boogers. That kind of thing. What happened at the pizza place was hard and came from outside the fold. I didn't know what to do with it. I still don't.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'll say that I'm thankful this doesn't happen very often. I know that I'm loved, and I'm happy to cover that situation and the feelings with the healing balm of grace. I'm thankful that instead, we're surrounded by friends and family who love our children, who aren't threatened by the potential inconvenience, and who pay attention to them. Who invest in them.
I'm thankful that the impact of these things will run far deeper than the bruises left by the joker at the pizza joint.
Cross-posted at www.table-for-3.com