“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, with a little lipstick thrown on, and apparently, for some, it may have given off the wrong “motherly” vibe.
I’m a 33-year-old mother to four children under 9. Some of my days (okay, 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 planned a special night to take our youngest to dinner, and I took our three older children out to eat and then to play games at their favorite indoor game and arcade center. So I decided this was an occasion worthy of some real attire.
As we walked into the restaurant adjoining the arcade, I noticed 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 with my kids. But that night, they were relatively well-mannered and not drawing any attention. They weren’t being loud, and their laughter and our conversations easily blended in with the sounds flowing in from the arcade.
Evidently, this woman had her mind made up about me as soon as we entered the restaurant, simply judging a book by its cover. I can only assume what she thought of me, but it’s suffice to say with her apology that she probably thought I would be more interested in myself than my children.
Maybe she noticed that I gladly took my 4-year-old into my lap when she wanted to sit closer to me.
Maybe she saw how I wasn’t afraid to be silly with my kids, in a restaurant-appropriate 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 grasping around my neck and another set of tiny hands playing messily with my hair, which I happily obliged.
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 to let that sink in — what she must have meant with her apology. And instead of asking her to explain further, I simply 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’d never seen this woman before, and I very well may never see her again. I didn’t get her name, and I don’t know anything else about her except for 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.