“I didn’t want to cry at Cracker Barrel.
I could feel the tears welling.
I could feel my nose starting to burn.
But I held it together.
Because I didn’t want to be the crazy lady crying at breakfast.
You see, my husband had taken a rare morning off from work, so we figured we’d make it fun and exciting for the boys by doing something we don’t normally do.
We piled in the car, made our way to good ol’ Cracker Barrel, and plopped down at a table surrounded by plenty of other diners.
Which always makes me sweat a little.
Like maybe, just maybe, if there are tons of other kids, the noise and rambunctiousness of the gaggle of said little people will melt together and everyone will look at each other with a knowing eye and give that whole parent nod and everything will be fine.
But such was not our luck today.
Anyway, within about five seconds’ time, my youngest was attempting to draw his masterpiece on the regular menu instead of the kid menu, so I promptly removed it from his space at the table.
And it was on.
Like Donkey Kong.
Here came the screams.
Here came the flails.
Here came the trying to climb out of the high chair.
And we’re working on it, all these big emotions.
We’re talking about how to use words and not escalate so quickly and all that good stuff.
But at not quite two, it hasn’t hit home just yet.
So, I did what any uncomfortable, uncertain, red-faced parent would do.
I swooped him up from his chair, took him out to the little store, and waited for him to calm down enough to return to our table.
And I was frustrated, if I’m being completely honest.
All we wanted was to have a special, lovely morning with the boys, and it was already a disaster. We hadn’t even ordered our drinks yet.
But I held him.
I snuggled him in my arms as we walked around that little store.
I passed other shoppers as we strolled about and probably gave a half-smile, my well-perfected ‘I’m tired and just wanted to have a good time with my family but that’s clearly not going to happen’ face.
And that’s when it happened.
As I half-smiled at another passerby, she stopped beside me and rested her hand on my shoulder.
She looked me in the eyes and said, ‘You have a beautiful boy. And you’re doing a wonderful job, Mama. I know that it can be tough, but you’re doing a really great job.’
I was honestly in complete and utter shock, so all I was able to manage was a lame, ‘Thanks.’
If I could go back in time, I would hug her for far too long.
Maybe even ugly cry on her shoulder.
I was in a bit of a daze as I headed back to our table, still in a hazy euphoria from the words of encouragement of that kind passerby.
And that’s when it happened—again.
Not three minutes later, following yet another, milder meltdown, a man who’d been sitting nearby approached our table.
‘Thank you so much for sharing your family with us.’
My husband and I both chuckled and apologized for the noise and commotion.
‘No, I meant it! We have four, so I know how it is. But thank you for coming out and enjoying breakfast and sharing your beautiful family with the rest of us.’
I nearly broke down.
There I was, feeling completely inadequate, like a total failure of a mom seeing as I couldn’t even get my child to sit at a restaurant table for a half-hour so that we could eat some pancakes and be on our way, fully expecting complete judgment and condemnation from those around us.
Instead, I was met with love.
Pure, unsolicited kindness.
And it just reminded me that there is goodness in this world.
It reminded me that for all the people tearing others down, there are plenty going out of their way to lift others up.
It reminded me that, when I see that Mama or that family, I can say something, too.
I can be the one to offer love, grace, compassion, and kindness.
Because our words hold so much power.
They really do.
So to that man and woman who were undoubtedly meant to be at Cracker Barrel at the exact same time as my hot mess of a family: thank you.
Thank you for taking the time to say something.
Thank you for going out of your way to be kind.
Thank you for using your words for good.
You’ve given me hope.
I wish more people were like the two of you.”
This story was written by Krista Ward of Kisses From Boys with Krista Ward. The article originally appeared on her Facebook page here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
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