“I’m sorry. I judged you when I saw you walk in with your kids ... and I just, I just had to apologize.”
I walked into a restaurant last weekend with three of my children. I had a shirt on that was off-the-shoulder, earrings, skinny jeans, open-toed heels, had a little lipstick thrown on, and apparently, for some, it may have put off the wrong “motherly” vibe.
I’m a 33-year-old mother to four children under 9. Some of my days (OK, a lot of my days) are spent in my pajama pants or workout clothes and unless it’s for church or a special occasion, I don’t usually get dolled up, so to speak.
But that night, my husband had a date night out to eat with our youngest, and I was taking our three older children out to eat and then to play games at their favorite indoor game and arcade center. I decided this was worth a special occasion to throw on some real attire.
As we walked into the adjoining restaurant, yes, I did notice some glances, but I typically do. It’s not uncommon, especially as it’s more often than not a circus to get from point A to point B.
But my children were relatively well mannered and not drawing attention. They weren’t speaking out and their laughter and our conversations easily blended in with the arcade outside of the dining area.
Evidently this woman had her mind made up about me when I entered, simply judging a book by its cover. I could assume what she thought of me, but suffice to say with her apology that I probably would have been more into myself than into my children.
Maybe she noticed that I had gladly taken my 4-year-old into my lap who wanted to sit closer to me.
Maybe she saw how I wasn’t afraid to be silly with my kids, in a restaurant-approved manner, as we waited for our food.
Maybe her eyes were upon us when we bowed our heads to pray before we ate.
Maybe she had a change of heart as she watched little arms grasp around my neck and another set of tiny hands that I willingly let play messily in my hair.
Maybe it was later in the evening as she saw me hop from one game to the next, being a kid with my kids.
But I’ll never forget the tap on my shoulder and her words echoing around me, “I’m sorry. I judged you when I saw you walk in with your kids ... and I just, I just had to apologize.”
I paused for a few moments as I had to let that sink in, what she must have meant with her apology. And without having to ask anything, I put my hand softly on her arm, smiled, and said, “Thank you. Truly, that means a lot. You didn’t need to say anything, but you did.”
She smiled back, “No, I needed to. Thank you for being an eye opener for me this evening.”
I leaned in, gave her a hug, and in the next breath was off chasing my kids ... again.
I’ve never seen this woman before, and I very well may never see her again. I didn’t get her name, nor do I know anything else about her except the fact that she taught me something, too.
As we’re all in this motherhood game together, there’s no time or room for judging or making assumptions.
But yet, in all circumstances, there’s always room ... always ... for compassion and forgiveness.
You can follow Regan Long at The Real Deal of Parenting.