The other night, I was out to dinner with my husband and our boys. From our table, I saw a mom walk in with her two daughters. She was wearing a t-shirt that read:
The thing that was the most striking about this woman, however, was not the shirt she was wearing, but the expression. Her face bore a scowl that had to take some serious, physical energy to maintain. I don’t just mean she wasn’t smiling, she looked absolutely pained by life.
The incongruity of this woman’s shirt and her expression was too much; I couldn’t shake the image of her scowling face from my head the rest of the night.
I’m absolutely not making fun of this woman, and certainly not criticizing her for what might have been a real expression of frustration, exhaustion, sadness, or a combination of all three emotions. What bothered me was the picture of a woman, sitting with her daughters physically, but emotionally pretty detached.
My thoughts weren’t to judge or criticize the woman. Instead, it made me think about my own life. I love my life. I love my kids. I’m absolutely head over heals in love with my husband. But if you peered into my life at any given point in the day without my knowing it, would you catch me smiling?
My thoughts went even further as I wondered: How often do I smile at my kids?
Yesterday afternoon, before the encounter mentioned above, I went into my oldest son’s room and found him in bed. He said, “come lay with me, mommy.” So I did. For the next 15 minutes or so, we lay there talking, giggling and just generally enjoying each other. I thought back on that moment later that evening as I was reflecting on the woman we saw at dinner.
It is so easy (for me, at least), to get caught up in the “doing” of life. How often do I have my “game face” on while I’m at home with my kids. How often am I so focused on taking care of them, the house, my own needs, etc, that I forget to stop and just smile? Even on the really hard days (or maybe, especially on the really hard days), do I make time to reflect on the good and give a smile of thanks?
I don’t want to trivialize what might have been real pain in the life of the woman we saw at dinner, if that is the case. But I also know that it is easy to forget just how serious we can look if we aren’t careful.
Sure, we all have tough stuff going on. Pain is real. Struggle and disappointment are real.My kids exhaust me. Life isn’t always easy. And I miss having the freedom to just take a dang nap.But when strangers see me, I’d like to think that they don’t see me carrying around the weight of the world. I’d like to think that my attitude can bring a smile to other’s faces. I’d like to think that if you were to peek into my window mid-day (Please don’t. That’s just weird.), that you would see me chasing after my kids, doing yoga or maybe reading a book, smiling.
Because that’s what awesome looks like.