My husband was out of town. That was the first thing that was wrong with this day. It was also a busy Saturday morning, so when my oldest asked if we were going out for breakfast, my optimistic self said yes. However, when I pulled up at a busy restaurant to grab our to-go order half-an-hour later, my realistic self had returned. With a baby in the carrier and a child on each hand, I cautiously edged my way through a line to reach the pick-up spot, now thinking that cold cereal and milk would have been preferable this morning. Of course, the order had to be retrieved, so I proceeded to make the four of us as inconspicuous as possible as we spread out among the crowd of others waiting for a table.
An older woman noticed me and my crew (admittedly, we were hard to miss), and I braced myself to respond politely to whatever comment was coming toward me, despite the fact that I was still without my morning cup of coffee. Deep breath. “What a lovely family you have.” I smiled automatically until the words registered. “Thank you,” I breathed. Our food arrived.
I left quickly and steered us all safely back to the car, now adding large bags of food to the items in my hands. As I sipped that long-awaited coffee on the way home, I noticed that my attitude had changed. Suddenly, the fact that the baby didn’t sleep well last night or that my house was a disaster zone didn’t seem to matter as much. A breath of fresh air had swept into the morning. It was the work of a moment. Of all the things that stranger could have chosen to say, she chose exactly what I needed to hear that May morning.
I do have a lovely family. And my family is lovely when they don’t sleep, when they make a mess, or when they are impatiently waiting for pancakes. What a gift to be able to see with someone else’s eyes that morning, to be encouraged to step outside of myself for a moment. Such moments require reflection. May is often a whirlwind month, full of graduations and sacramental celebrations. If you have also been caught up in your own family’s activities, I hope and pray this little whiff of fresh air can reach you too. For, truly, what lovely families you all have!