Tag Archives: proud

A Big Deal

A Saturday grocery store trip. A family reunion. Holiday weekend picnic at the park. Visit to the rec centre. Pampered Chef party with the girls. Two hours in a crowded doctor’s office waiting room with sick kids.

People do these things all the time.

They’re just part of life. No big deal.

Or are they?

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“You coming for supper?” Your petite coworker looks at you through amber curls. She doesn’t slow down. She knows your answer already. You’ll make a lame excuse, like you ate a late lunch, or you’ll act like you you’ll be right there, but never show up. Your place of part time employment offers you a free meal with every shift, but aside from the training shifts when you were with someone, you have never taken them up on it. A university student, you don’t have an abundance of extra cash for food. You’ve even gone a week living on microwave popcorn. So, why on earth do you pass on free food?

Because you are absolutely terrified.

You’re sure you will be awkward when the cook gruffly asks what you want to eat. You’re sure you will be unwelcome at the table with the housekeeping or banquet staff. You’ll put your dirty dishes in the wrong spot, you’ll forget to say thank you, you’ll annoy everyone around you. You get a creepy crawly feeling every time you picture yourself going back to the staff kitchen. So instead, you take an extra long washroom break, eat some licorice you’ve got stashed in your purse, and spend the second half of your shift pretending you’re not hungry.

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You stare at the shiny black braid on the girl 3 seats ahead of you. There aren’t many boarding the bus at this time of night, so the steady movement lulls you into a comfortable daze. The bus passes your place, but you do not pull the cord. You are taking the long way home, hoping with all your might that your roommates will all be in their rooms when you finally get home. Your mind wanders, carefully avoids addressing the vague loneliness that rests on your chest. Your stomach grumbles. You lean your head on the window and try to remember what time your first class starts tomorrow. You are relieved the house looks dark as the bus circles back around. You pull the cord at the last possible moment. Part of you really wishes you could just ride the bus around all night. You bid the driver farewell, and scurry across the street.

The smell of some sort of Italian food greets you as you open the door. Perhaps one of your roommates made pasta sauce today. You consider checking if you have any food in the fridge, mount the stairs instead. You haven’t prepared a meal, washed a dish in that kitchen in months. You haven’t wanted to risk your new roommates noticing your lack of skill, your clumsiness while cooking and cleaning.

Safely in your room, you flop on your bed. On your dresser sits a half jar of peanut butter, a spoon, a container of jujubes with only the black ones left. Zoning out, you eat a few spoonfuls of peanut butter, hide it under the bed, and change into your pyjamas.

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Your leg shakes impatiently as you wait for the air conditioning to kick in. You reassure your daughters the car will cool down soon, and give your husband a grateful squeeze on the arm. The new splash pad will no doubt be busy on this scorching Sunday. The temptation to stay home and play with your girls in their wading pool is great. But no, you can’t. This little (actually, for you it’s huge) excursion will be a lot of fun for them. It will give them a chance to interact with other kids. They will love it. You may hate it, but it doesn’t matter. You are doing it for them.

You arrive, and see that all is just as you had feared. It is packed. To your left, a group of teen girls stare at you with heavily lined eyes, smirk (at least that’s what you think they are doing) and smack their gum. To your right, a couple of 12 year old boys whiz past, almost knocking your youngest child over. The sound of delighted shrieks fills the air. You are hard pressed to find a spot to set down your bag. You take a deep breath, remind yourself your family has just as much right to be there as anyone, take your daughters by the hand and lead them to a small duck shaped fountain.

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A Saturday grocery store trip. A family reunion. Holiday weekend picnic at the park. Visit to the rec centre. Pampered Chef party with the girls. Two hours in a crowded doctor’s office waiting room with sick kids.

People do these things all the time.

They’re just a part of life.

But for some, they are a very big deal indeed.

Next time you are at the splash pad, or the grocery store, or the doctor’s office, take a look around. Maybe that mom (or dad) who smiles at you has fought an internal battle just to get there. Maybe they still fight it as they smile at you.

Smile back with encouragement. Help them feel proud.

Because proud is exactly how they should feel.