My day job is wearing thin on me again. If the brand of attention I got from our servers tonight is any indication of how tired I look, I need to schedule myself a little break.
I took the boys to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant for some pho this evening. It’s not that Charlie and Kip are superb eaters, it’s that pho, a steaming beef broth with noodles, is the only soup I can get our little guys to eat.
Straight out of the gate, once I’d ordered our usual, the spunky young server with the mohawk sidled up to Charlie and asked him where his daddy was.
“He’s at work,” Charlie said, smiling at the guy, who looked at me out of the corner of his eye.
It seemed like kind of a weird question and, had I been wearing leather pants and eyeliner, I would’ve questioned his motives, but I was wearing stringy hair and fat jeans, packing some serious darkness under my eyes, so I assessed the question might also have been phrased, “Is your Mommy doing ok?”
A few minutes later, as I was dishing up the pho, another server approached the table. She asked me how old the boys were, and then whether I stay at home or work.
“Oh, I’m at home,” I said. She smiled and asked me if I’d been able to find any mothers groups on meet-up, “or anything.”
The first server circled back around to check on the boys every few minutes, encouraging them to eat their dinner, praising Kip’s noodle-eating passion and engaging them just long enough for me to shovel some noodles in my own mouth. I smiled and thanked him, Charlie alternately studied and grinned at him and Kip, sitting beside me, was indifferent to his attempts at child charming.
We made it through the meal with only a few (hundred) pieces of noodles smeared on the table, only eight spoons removed from the utensil carousel and nary a meltdown over the fact I wasn’t allowing smoothies to be ordered. And I actually ate a square meal myself. Success. Yet, as I unbuckled Charlie from the high chair—the three-year-old insisted on sitting in one, presumably for old time’s sake?—and helping Kip put on his coat, the server squatted down next to me and looked tenderly into my eyes. “It’s hard, isn’t it?” he said.
I agreed in the most small talky way I could imagine because he couldn’t be a day over 25…and he gestured at me. “Um, you have a noodle in your hair.” I start batting at my hair and mumbling about how that’s how mealtime is in my world. With a shrug, he reached right in to space otherwise known as Charlie, Kip and my husband’s, and pulled the noodle from a strand stuck to my cheek.
And there it was: nurturing from a most unexpected source. Here is an inked-up young buck in his spiky-twisty-haired 20s—he had a freaking grim-reaper tattoo on his forearm—being almost motherly to me. How much I needed some asexual attentiveness! Partly shocked and partly lulled, I stood up, thanked him, walked the boys to see the fish tank and then out the door.
Later, navigating the bathtime/bedtime ritual and the ensuing journey of getting Charlie to sleep, I noticed I didn’t feel as exhausted as I usually do at that time of night. In fact, I hadn’t felt overwhelmed for one moment since we left the restaurant. I do still need a break, a chance to rest, connect with Spirit and just be me (and a fresh application of under eye concealer), but this encounter actually genuinely energized me.
The “how” of my unexpected energization is simple and, if you can take the leap with me, a daily kind of miracle. We know that God works through people, right? And, judging from the surge in wellbeing I felt afterward, I believe it was God who sent me the gentle, empathetic nurturing I needed through a guy so young he may not even know who Prince is. Quite unexpected. I’m reminded that any aspect of God can present in any kind of person at any given moment. In my case, I just needed to be open to the concern and the nurturing in order to receive the divine mothering that was coming my way. If we can open up just a little bit, especially when we find ourselves stereotyping, imagine the blessings we’ll be able to receive.