Joy at Sal’s Pizza


“The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.”—Elaine Heffner

One of our very favorite places to eat is Sal’s Pizza. The staff is friendly, the atmosphere relaxed and casual, and the pizza is fresh and very tasty.

My husband, daughter and I stopped in for dinner yesterday afternoon. It was raining heavily and the sky was dark, but inside the restaurant was bright and cheery.

Just as we started to eat, a mom and her young kids tumbled inside, a flurry of activity and laughter. As the mom ordered the pizza for her family, the kids began to run around, full of energy. They were not being obnoxious, just kids being kids.

I heard the young man behind the counter tell the mom that it would be a 20 minute wait.

I could not help but think back to my early days of mothering when such a long wait combined with high-energy kids would have sent me into meltdown mode.

Not this mom.

She rounded up her kids and took them outside. Sal’s is located in a strip mall with a large overhang that protects the customers from the elements.

For the next several minutes, she joined them in exuberant play.  They ran, danced, twirled, and chased. I saw her youngest child gleefully clap her hands as she watched her siblings from her seat in the stroller. It wasn’t long before she was lifting her chubby little arms in the air, a signal that she wanted to be able to join in the fun.

Her mom willingly lifted her up, spun her around, and placed her on the pavement. With a huge grin, she gleefully toddled around as fast as her legs  would take her in an attempt to keep up with her brothers and sisters.

The mom took the lead in leaving the protected covering of the roof to dash out into the rain, arms opened wide, face upturned and wreathed in smiles, spinning wild. Her kids did the same…and my heart was filled with joy as I witnessed their utter and complete joy as they fully lived these precious moments.

An ordinary rainy Monday afternoon at the local pizza place had been turned into a time of magical fun and breathless laughter, all thanks to this mother who seized the opportunity to make what could have been a boring wait into a celebration.

On our way out, I could not resist telling her what an amazing mom she was and how much I had enjoyed watching her have so much fun with her kids.

Her face registered surprise, then broke into a big smile as she thanked me. “I just love everything about being a mom,” she said.

“It shows,” I told her. “I really wish I had done more of this kind of thing when my kids were little. Keep up the good work. You never get this time with them back.”

She waved in farewell and  took her son’s hand as he excitedly led her back into playtime.

We walked back to our car, their laughter ringing in our ears.

I thought about many things as we drove home.

Our son is away until the end of the month at an advanced studies program at a local boarding school.  Our daughter will leave tomorrow for a three week trip to Europe. The house will be so silent for a time.

One of my dearest friends had texted me earlier in the week to say that her 25 year old nephew had been killed in a motorcycle crash. Every mama’s worst nightmare. How my heart grieves for his mom as she confronts such an unimaginable loss.

We never know how much time we have with the ones we love.

The days of parenting our little ones can seem long and endless. But the truth is, those days are strung together like a shimmering necklace for us moms to treasure in our hearts, long after those days are gone.

If you are in that season right now, truly cherish these moments. No, they will not all be fun. Oftentimes, it will seem like drudgery: dirty diapers, crumbs on the counter, spilled milk, mountains of laundry, sibling squabbles,  toys strewn about the house, doctor visits, homework battles, etc.

But if you can look above the day-to-day routine and remember that your children are miracles and gifts, you will be rich beyond imagining.

Don’t take things so seriously.

Smile. Laugh. Play more. Worry less. Pray hard.

Celebrate the little things. In the end, it is the little things that end up being the big things.

Search for joy and beauty in the midst of it all. It is there, I promise.

Study those sweet little faces. They change so fast.

Listen to their dreams…and dream right along with them. Share in their sense of wonder.

Treasure the feel of their little hands folded into yours.

Keep in mind that the childhood years are not the time to be overly concerned about having a perfectly clean house.

Turn off the TV and the computer at some point during the day and truly be all there with your kids. This day will not come again.

Don’t be so uptight. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child.

Know with certainty that you are God’s “Plan A” for your child(ren).

Love with everything you have.

Above all, don’t ever take this time for granted. This time and those little souls have been entrusted to you.

Make the most of it.

Then watch those ordinary days become extraordinary.

“Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful, but because they are fleeting.”—Richard Paul Evans

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