The Sad Happy Meal

See that picture above, that is what a “happy meal” (and happy face) should look like. Happy face for Mom also because the older I get realize it’s called a happy meal because hey, I don’t have to cook! There are things I am not proud of and I’m embarrassed to share, and one is I bribe my oldest child. However, if I took a poll right now (anonymously) 95% of parents would own up to this and that makes me happy. It means I’m human. It doesn’t happen often, but there are times where I have listened to “Jesus Take The Wheel” 5 times, and after calling my mother, I have to throw a hail mary.

When I was pregnant, one of the characteristics I prayed for was a big hearted, spirited little girl and my prayers were answered. However, for some time, we have been learning about sharing in our house, something that hasn’t quite set in at school yet, so while she is the kindest girl I know, she is also, the most spirited. This particular day I made a deal with a 3 year old, telling her if she was a good helper (helping words gave her positive reinforcement), we would go to Chick-Fil-A after school. Boy, did her eyes light up! I did my normal thing while the time past: doing laundry, grabbing coffee with my awesome neighbor, sweeping the kitchen floors for the 5th time, and nurturing her younger sibling while I hoped today was a good day. Upon pick up, she ran to the door yelling “I listened today!” and her teacher smiled saying, “Yes, today was a great day!” What a sigh of relief!

Off we headed to the car where she quickly told me, “Mom I want a happy meal.” Of course I gasped, because in our house we love Chick-Fil-A. I said “Ok are you sure? Are you telling me you want McDonalds?” She was serious, so off we went to the land of the unknown (aka McDonalds). We rolled up to the drive thru and placed her order consisting of a hamburger, fries, yogurt, chocolate milk and ‘please don’t forget my prize/toy’. I pulled up to the window to pay and the lady handed me a brown paper bag. I looked at her funny and said, “Hi, I had a happy meal. I’m not sure what this is?” She told me that this was the happy meal. I gave her a look only a parent would understand, because I knew troubled waters were ahead. “Ok, I’m guessing you are out of happy meal boxes?” She told me they were and I gave her an unsteady reply of alrighty. I reached back and handed the “happy meal” to my 3 year old who, due to marketing by McDonalds was expecting a red box with yellow arch handles. “Hey, what is this?” I told her it was her happy meal and to please take the bag. “This is NOT a happy meal, THIS is sad meal. I do not want this! Hey I have an idea let’s go to Chick Fil A! They always have happy bags.” On the inside I was laughing, because my 3 year old was trying to persuade me to go somewhere else and I was thinking, “There are happy brown paper bags and they are from Bloomingdales, however I’m crying because I hardly get those and girlfriend, I tried to get you to go there, but you had to learn this life lesson that sometimes we don’t always get what we want.”

And yet, as I sat there holding this brown paper bag, I started to think about the contents inside of it, so I took a peak. Inside was the fresh, juicy hamburger with pickles and no onions, made to order. The french fries smelled hot, salty with the apple slices sitting right next to them and a cold jug of chocolate milk. If only my kid knew that everything she wanted asked for was in this bag (I tried to tell her, but she had to figure it out for herself), however, it really got me thinking about life. How many of us at times ‘walk by sight and not by faith? Raising my hand over here! We should be doing what 2 Corinthians 5:7 actually says, which is “walk by faith and not by sight.” It dawned on me that we use this verse in our everyday life including how we parent. My biggest fear? Is that I am not raising my kids correctly or I am not giving enough proper tools to make a change in society, because I live in this fear that I am not enough. It then occurred to me that Gods visions for my children, are far better and greater than what I have planned. I need to have FAITH that these times, moments, seasons in my life are for a purpose and that my mistakes will not hinder my children’s future. We as a society are so distracted by what we see, what we think parenthood should be, that the answers right in front of us we do not hear because we have zero faith in ourselves. Our thought process, when we ask God out of worry where are you and he answers back ”here I am!” it startles us because we are not ready. Sometimes when we ask God for things, its not going to come to us in our Happy Meal box, its going to arrive outside of our comfort zone and we might have to work for it.

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