I admit that I am hard on myself, and I am somewhat of a perfectionist. I am working on it, I swear. Since having a baby, I have worried about managing three kids on my own, homeschooling, and making sure that everything goes well when we are out in public. So I admit that when I offered to take our exchange student to a Vietnamese restaurant for her birthday, I was actually kinda terrified to take a teenager, two tweens, and a baby to a nice restaurant. Ok, so I was more than kinda terrified. I really had hoped that my husband would miraculously be able to be home that weekend so that I could take her on my own.
Up to that point, I had taken the kids out for short outings and to a few restaurants with my husband. That day, we were out all afternoon, and I wasn’t sure how it would go taking the baby to a restaurant, and a nice one at that. I spent the whole dinner frazzled and worried that the baby was going to cry or that the kids would argue. I was so afraid that something would go wrong and call attention to our table. My kids are usually good when we go out to eat, but adding the element of a baby in a nice restaurant without my husband to back me up really scared me.
At the end of the dinner, we got our check, and the server told us that we didn’t owe anything. While I was sitting worrying about everything, someone else in the restaurant saw what I wasn’t seeing. That person saw a family enjoying a nice dinner. That person decided to pay for our meal because he/she thought that we were delightful. I almost cried. Okay, I cried when I got in the car. It made me feel like I was doing a good job as a parent because we managed to go to a nice restaurant and made a good impression on people. It made me feel like maybe I wasn’t failing after all. My kids were polite and well-mannered, and I wasn’t paying attention. I was too worried. It gave me confidence.
Since that time at the restaurant, I started taking the kids on more outings on my own. It’s a little daunting at times, but I know I can handle it and all because someone noticed my family and thought we were great even when I wasn’t noticing.
Today is Pay It Forward Day. Do you have a Pay it Forward story? If so, please feel free to share it in the comments below.