Early Spring 2015...
The divorce wrecked me. I was trying to put the pieces of myself back together, to be strong for my daughters. I was living, breathing, and practicing with every ounce of my being the art of fake-it-till-you-make-it. Putting on a brave smile during outings at the park, of which I continued to take them on many. Gushing warmth, love, and affection during bath time and bedtime stories. Listening to their voices and making sure they felt free to talk about their daddy whenever and however they wanted to.
Even so, it was always with a heavy heart. One that never seemed to lift.
Then something happened.
It was a regular weeknight evening. I was taking the girls on a trip to the supermarket. On the way there, the girls (ages 4 and 2) were sitting in their car seats, listening and singing along to the radio, when 4 year old Elise brings up Disneyland, as she often does.
"Mommy, I want to go to Disneyland. Please can we go to Disneyland?"
I tell her, like I always do, "Yes, Elise! We are definitely going to Disneyland. It's really expensive though. Mommy has to work and save up money so we can go. Okay?"
She accepts this answer, like she always does.
When we get to the Ralph's supermarket, we see that there are new shopping carts in the parking lot. They're shopping carts for kids, with plastic cars jimmied to the front and big enough for two kids to sit in and steer. My little girls are absolutely ecstatic to squeeze themselves into the cart. We go about our shopping--gathering the few items we need--pay at the cash register, and leave the store.
As we are leaving, I glance at my kids to make sure they're sitting safely in the front of the cart. After all, we were about to make our way into a parking lot. I see my kids pretending to steer. They are having pure fun. Suddenly, it dawns on me that this is kind of like... a ride at Disneyland.
I say, "Hey, you want to take a ride around the parking lot?"
To which Elise jubilantly responds, "Yes!!!"
With groceries still in the cart, I take off running. It was nighttime, probably 7:30 p.m. The parking lot, though not deserted, isn't as crowded or as busy as it usually is. The air was crisp and pleasant, and I was in good shape again from exercising. I run fast and push them around the perimeter of the parking lot. This is exhilarating for my girls! And for me, it was incredibly gratifying to be the impetus of their joy. My legs easily carried us around the parking lot, and I adeptly maneuvered the four turns that brought us back to our starting point.
As I unload the kids, a burgundy car pulls up beside us. The gentleman sticks his head out of the window and points his finger at us. He hollers, "BEST MOM EVER!"
I am utterly stunned by his comment.
I tell him, "Thanks!"
He says one more time, "Best mom ever!"
And he drives off.
That guy, with his comment, gave me such a sense of happiness and validation. He appreciated what I was doing for my kids, and he appreciated it enough to go out of his way to let me know. It was nothing short of a gift.
Amidst the bleak sadness of my situation, it made me want to fall to my knees and thank the universe for the gift of his comment. He had no idea how badly I needed someone or something to lift me. At that moment, I had hope.
Someday I would be happy again.