To The Lady At Panera

It takes an enormous amount of energy to get all my little people out of the house! I have felt this way since I had only one little guy…and now there are seven! But, as painful as it usually is, getting out is always worth it. Every time!

Lately, the kids and I have been going on a new adventure – I have been taking ALL of the children to Panera for breakfast on Tuesdays. Mind you, it is only on Tuesdays because that’s when their bagels are less than half price! You’ve gotta go. Our family can eat a baker’s dozen in a day (not me! ).

The discount is terrific, but the reason I started to make this outing a routine was because it was a great opportunity for some life-skills training! Our family rarely goes to restaurants, and I have suspected that the kids’ table manners might be somewhat lacking, since there is no pressure to “perform” in front of mommy at home – with PB&Js. At Panera, we always sit at the longest table which happens to be in the very middle of the dining area. The kids love it there – right in the center (not me so much).

During a recent Tuesday trip, we ordered our usual: bagels, toasted with butter, and a skim milk cappuccino for Mom. While I buttered the endless bagel halves, I noticed a thirty-something lady with a bluetooth earpiece in her ear sitting in front of her laptop in a corner booth. She hadn’t appeared to have been bothered by us at all…yet. Before we finished our breakfast, the lady from the corner booth handed me a folded paper as she walked out of the restaurant.

“you’re doing great, momma!”

I couldn’t believe it. My heart was full of gratefulness for her considerate and generous words! Right then, as I read the note to the children, they asked me what her name was. “We don’t know. We didn’t even have a chance to return her smile!” I replied.

In that moment, I realized that she taught the kids and I a lesson far more important than table manners. She taught us to give without expecting to receive – she so freely gave us kindness! As I write this now, I think of Jesus’ words in the gospel of Luke. Hereminds me to do good, expecting nothing in return.

So, to the lady at Panera, I want to say that every time we go back for our baker’s dozen, I look for you. I want to tell you that you were a blessing to a nervous, flustered mama. And I want to buy you a cappuccino!

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan

with love. Damaris