Last week I had some appointments in Montgomery, about an hour from where I live. In customary fashion, I stopped at the Chick-Fil-A at East Chase for a totally gluten-free meal of grilled nuggets and fruit (I’m not going back to my gluten ways, oh no, no, no – not after that strawberry cake).
Now if you’ve been to the Chick-Fil-A at East Chase around noon – or really, any Chick-Fil-A anywhere around lunch time – you know it’s packed. No parking spaces packed. Double drive through line out the entrance packed. Nowhere to sit packed. But my gluten-free lunch was calling and my tummy was rumbling, so…
After ordering my #5 combo with fruit instead of fries and a super ginormous Diet Coke I started scanning the overpopulated CFA for somewhere to sit. The fact that school is out down here in the South and mommas need a place to take all these kids to get out of the house just exasperated a highly congested restaurant, so as soon as I spied the one and only open booth I made a b-line for it, running every so gingerly in my 3” work wedges so as not to slip in the sea of mashed French fries and nuggets that currently littered the floor.
Ahhhh, a comfy booth to enjoy my GF meal in peace and……
Wait just a minute. Suddenly I realized why this was the only available booth in the whole restaurant. It’s located at the entrance to the inside playground where I estimated about 33 toddlers to be running, jumping, climbing and – sticking their mouths and tongues on the thin sheet of glass that separated us???? Ew.
I’m a momma. So yes, I had toddlers at one time. And yes, I went to every single stinkin’ fast food restaurant with a playground of any type within a 20 mile radius of my house for years. But I’m 48 now with a 20 and a 16 year old, and just as it happens with childbirth, you forget the pains that go along with certain times in your life. Like having toddlers.
And I know – I know I should have been all, “Oh, aren’t they sweet. Isn’t the way that boy is pulling the little girl’s ponytail simply adorable? Gee I wish that one would run out into the restaurant shrieking 6 or 7 more times instead of the 4 that I just counted! And I really wish all 33 would stick their mouths on that glass – how sanitizing!”
But I wasn’t. Not.Even.Close.
I ate that delicious meal of 8 nuggets sopped in CFA sauce (don’t EVEN tell me if CFA sauce has gluten in it – you’ll total ruin any amount of fun I can ever hope to have in a fast food restaurant) and about choked on the overabundance of apples and 2 mandarin orange slices in my fruit cup (why are there so many apples in a fruit cup and so few other fun fruits???). I’m what you would call an “older momma” and I’ve been there, done that people. Just let me woof down my meal and get outta here.
And then, I spied her. One momma with one baby. Probably her first, the way she was watching her like a momma bear eyes a cub. Protective. Loving. Trying to eat a meal that she didn’t have to prepare or clean up while making sure her new treasure was next to her, sleeping peacefully. She was oblivious to the chaos and the loudness of the CFA at lunchtime. I think firemen with jaws of life could have been dispatched to rescue a pre-teen stuck in the indoor playground and she would have never known it – not as long as her precious new baby was beside her, protected.
And watching her for just a moment gave me time to pause and relive that time in my life – for just a moment. And I was reminded of this simple passage of Scripture:
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” (Psalm 127:3)
As a mom of young adults I need to remember this verse often – even when little tongues are licking the glass inside the Chick-Fil-A playground.