Ryder wearing oversized glassesWe rarely go out to eat with the boys. For one, we are savers and don’t like to waste money on food they won’t eat. And it’s difficult. We switched seats at dinner tonight at least five times. Our waiter, Christian, (by far the best waiter I’ve ever had in my lifetime) compassionately knew what lay ahead for us. He brought me about ten wet naps when I only asked for one. He whispered to me that they were out of fruit salad instead of announcing it in front my preschooler who was dead-set on fruit for his side dish. He talked to my sons and made us feel welcome, diverting my attention from the guilt I always feel for the train wreck of a mess that would be the end result of our table.

It was about as nice as an evening out could be with a toddler and a preschooler. Sometimes it’s simply awful, but tonight was fairly manageable. And yet, I doubt that we’ll take them out to eat again anytime soon. It’s just easier to imagine a simpler dining out experience in a few years, when they’re old enough to be a little more settled down to where I don’t have to scream in a busy restaurant, “HE’S GOT THE BUTTER KNIFE IN HIS MOUTH!”

I was the last one left at the table to make sure we had all of our things and to semi-bus the table as much as I could for Christian. So many smiley cookie crumbs all over the booth bench, so much ketchup all over the napkins left crumpled on the plates of food scraps that didn’t make the cut. I frowned a bit and took a deep breath as I turned to walk towards the door where the boys were waiting with John.

An elderly couple was seated behind us during dinner. As I walked past them, the woman intentionally caught my eye, sweetly smiled at me and said quietly,

“Enjoy it.”

So quietly that I had to ask her to repeat herself. She leaned into me and said it again.

Looking me in the eyes from two feet away, she managed to simultaneously be somewhere else…somewhere off in the distance, decades away, a slipped-away lifetime ago.


Am I truly enjoying it? Am I? While I’m worrying about not being perfect, while I’m worrying about what everyone else thinks, am I enjoying it for even a moment, or am I just chalking it up to a time where everything is hard and looking too much to the future when it will be ‘easier?’ Easier how? Easier that they won’t want to be with me like they do now? Easier than when they are both climbing on me as we wait for a table and I’m irritated because the baby keeps kicking me directly in my ankle reflex?

This is it. This is all I get. And I’m wishing it away. A day not so far in the future, they won’t hold my hand when walking through the parking lot. They certainly won’t sit on my lap and they probably won’t talk to me much at dinner. They’ll be texting their friends and asking when “family dinner night” is over so they can get back to their busy lives.

They’ll fall in love. They’ll marry the person that makes them happier than they could have ever imagined. They’ll move away and start a career, a family–an entirely new chapter of their lives.

And I’ll be sitting opposite John at a restaurant, watching a young mother struggle through dinner with two rambunctious boys, whispering to her as she hurries towards the exit,

“Enjoy it.”