Many years ago I worked at a restaurant with a man named Rick. His work ethic was amazing. He worked a day job from morning until evening, then he would work at the restaurant from evening until midnight. He did this five days a week, to provide for his wife and gazillion kids.
He didn’t complain.
He was always smiling.
He made twice as much in tips as any of the rest of us.
It was almost annoying.
But you had to love the guy. He was bearded and kind. I think the entire time I knew him, I actually only saw him eat a meal once. He worked hard. He always had something inspirational to say.
He was like my own personal, workplace Jesus.
Several years later, when I was grocery shopping one afternoon, I saw Rick again.
He told me about his wife and kids. I talked about Zoë starting kindergarten…and I tearfully told him about Zion’s recent diagnosis of autism.
Rick just smiled.
The more he smiled, the more my tears welled up.
He hugged me tight. Then he drew back and he said something I’ve always remembered.
“Oh Angie…you get to have a child who remains child-like for much, much longer than usual.”
I thought it was a sweet thing to say…something comforting and poetic. But a tad bit cliché…you know, like the things you say and little lies you tell when you don’t know what else to say:
“What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!”
“You are in our thoughts and prayers.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
“Of course you don’t look fat in those pants!”
But what I’ve grown to realize over the years, is that Rick was more right than I ever could have imagined.
Zion will point at the heavens, squealing, “Mama, look at the moon!”, and then stand there staring at it for 15 minutes.
This winter during the first snowfall, Zion was jumping up and down and saying over and over again, “Mama, look at the snow! There’s lots and lots of snow!”
(I think that sometimes too….but it’s usually when I’m cursing it because it’s making me late to work.)
This year on Christmas morning, Zion’s eyes were twinkling with the hope of gifts and treats from Santa Clause. This is a twinkle you usually only get to see when you have a toddler.
But Zion is 10 now…and he is still finding wonder in the things that most of us think of as mundane.
This is exactly what Rick meant all those years ago.
So today we are taking down our Christmas decorations. (Yes, it’s January 11, don’t judge.) I look over and see Zion holding a snow globe.
He is looking at it like he has the entire galaxy in his tiny little hands. Wide-eyed and quiet, he looks a bit like the cat from Shrek. His eyes are just downright huge. Zion waits until every last flake has hit the bottom of the glassy landscape, and then shakes it with all his might. He looks at me and squeals, “Mama, I see lots and lots of snow!”
Then the process starts again.
And I just think how much I love this child…how much he has changed my life…how much being his mama has changed me.
Right about that moment, I look at my son. The last snowflake lands, and once again Zion shakes that globe as hard as he can.
We all get shaken up like that from time to time, don’t we?
But eventually, the flurries settle, everything falls into place, and there is peace.
For a moment.
Then life shakes the globe again.
There will always be those days when I am exhausted…when I am stressed about finances, when I have yelled at my kids for the 47th time, when ends are not meeting, when I don’t know how I’m going to make it to work, when my house is a hot mess, when I’ve gained back that 20 pounds, when life is just in rude disarray and everything seems like it is going completely wrong….
but eventually the flurries do settle.
Thank you, Rick.
My grocery store prophet.
You were so right. This beautiful child is teaching me everyday to slow down and find wonderment in mundane things.
And that it really is possible that while I am growing old, to be growing young.