Constantly having to worry about money is debilitating.
It’s exhausting and stressful and not fun.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul and having a major panic attack every time you hear a knock on the door sucks.
Not knowing when you are going to emerge from this situation or, even worse, if you ever will, totally blows.
Except for sometimes.
Sometimes it teaches you to appreciate and be grateful…
We never take the kids out to eat.
And when I say never, I mean, NEVER.
We just can’t afford it.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, Number 6 is the only kid at home with me.
This money situation has me using every spare minute to work.
And I’ve been really shitty about spending time with Number 6 on these mornings.
Instead, I’ve thrown the iPad at him and told him to play some games so I could get some stuff done.
Today, I had a bunch of errands to run.
We went to the bank, stopped to pick up a couple of dressers that someone donated to me, and stopped at a friend’s house.
Next, I had to get my emissions tested.
As I sat in the lobby of Firestone with Number 6, I cleaned my purse out.
I found a gift card to Panera floating around in there that a friend had given me a long time ago.
I was going to try and squeeze a few more errands in after we were done with the car and before we had to go pick up Number 7.
But I had dragged Number 6 all over the place and he was being really good.
So I asked him if he wanted to go on a date.
Panera was just across the street.
He said yes.
So we went to lunch.
We walked inside Panera and Number 6 asked me, “Mommy? What is this place?”
I explained that it was kind of a restaurant and that we could order something to eat.
“We weally get to eat lunch heeyah?” he asked me.
I swallowed the big lump in my throat.
We checked out the menu and he finally decided on a ham and cheese sandwich.
I had only ever been in there once myself. I had no idea what the kids’ menu was like.
We got our food and sat down.
There were several other moms there with young kids. Kids who had probably been to Panera dozens of times.
To them, it was no big deal.
To Number 6, it was fucking awesome.
“Mommy? Thank you fowah taking me heeyah. I weally love you.”
I pushed down another lump.
He ate the lamest ham and cheese sandwich I think I’ve ever given to him.
But I didn’t care.
Because he was so happy.
So happy that he was just a big, blurry smile the whole time we ate.
And while the financial bullshit right now is a major drag, in some ways it’s a blessing.
Because as the other moms and kids sat there, eating their “usual” and not thinking much of it,
Number 6 and I were on a very special date.
I bet most of the people who ate lunch in Panera today won’t remember it at all in a few months.
But Number 6 and I?
Today we both had a lunch that we will never forget.
And for that, I am grateful.