The more I grow and watch this little boy of mine, the more I realize how much I have to learn from him. He’s my most influential teacher I have and he can’t even use the potty. In the middle of all the ebbs and flows of this life, he is my constant, my spark at the end of a day, and my lifeboat when I find myself wading through the muck of this life.
Every now and then I’m reminded of this precious gift of mine, and the other night it just happened to be at McDonalds.
Beau had to work late and I didn’t feel like cooking dinner for Cruz and me. It was nearing the end of the day, and I was more than ready to call it a day; however, this teacher of mine makes it pretty hard to do things that once may have been easier --- you know, substitute a meal for a bowl of popcorn, climb into bed at seven, and watch reruns of The Bachelor until I fall asleep. Instead, I smiled through my fifth reading of Red Truck, danced to Elmo’s World, and tried my best to forget about my day with kisses and squeezes. And then I decided it was time to go eat.
I didn’t feel like going far or spending much, and sometimes, there isn’t much that sounds better than a greasy burger and fries at your favorite fast food chain. It had been awhile since Cruz had had a Happy Meal, so for the time being, I kissed my healthy mom tendencies away and walked proudly under the golden arches, more than ready to devour a fish fillet and French fries with my special date.
Besides an elderly couple in the corner, we had the place to ourselves. I could tell Cruz was excited to be out of the house, and he acted as if he knew this was a special outing for the two of us. He was on his very best behavior, pushed his highchair up to our table, and carefully took the paper off his straw before putting it in his cup. Then quietly and carefully, he ate every last one of his fries and chicken nuggets. One by one, he dipped each French fry in his ketchup, and ate as if nothing else mattered in the world.
I was soon reminded of the first of many great lessons I’ve learned from this teacher of mine. He reminded me of the gift of time. Life just moves slower when children are involved, and there was nothing ‘fast’ about this food we ate together. Without a care in the world, Cruz took his sweet time, giving me time to study him and soak him up and just stop. Stop and witness this little miracle I am so privileged to raise. I smiled and laughed to myself as I watched him treat his fries like they were his last meal on earth, and felt so full of thanksgiving for this place I’m at in my life.
I’ve always known that God works in mysterious ways, but never dreamed He’d use McDonalds to work in my life the way it did the other night. It was in that moment, sitting by the window, counting trucks and sharing ketchup that I realized that God is intending me to be right here, in this moment, and nowhere else. Worrying about the future seems so trivial when the present is so very good.
Sometimes the unplanned parts of this life provide the sweetest results. Even when they happen at McDonalds.