Our Friday was nothing like I originally planned. We didn’t go to Six Flags (because it was closed. Mom Fail. Let’s not rehash it.). We didn’t spend the afternoon at the hotel swimming and relaxing. Instead, BG went to gymnastics and then we headed into the city for lunch and an afternoon of fun. David and I were a little out of sync from the time we left for lunch. Have you been there? Nothing is wrong; no one is mad or upset. You’re just not quite clicking right. By way of happenstance and slight miscommunication, we ended up on a random street nowhere near where we planned to go. We parked and fed the meter, literally not knowing where we were going. There was a McDonald’s nearby so we got BG a happy meal and walked onto the street to find big kid food.
As we headed toward Qdoba, we passed a woman sitting on the sidewalk. I’m not sure what her sign said, but she was holding a little boy about 18 months old. We entered Qdoba and BG asked if she could have a quesadilla. I explained that we got her McDonald’s but she asked again. I couldn’t get the image of that woman out of my mind, so I left David to finish ordering and paying, and BG and I went back out to the street. In the middle of M Street Northwest, with traffic and pedestrians surrounding us, I explained to Brynna as best I could why the woman was sitting with her little boy. I told her that all kids don’t get to choose what they eat; that some kids don’t get enough. I asked her if she thought we could share what we had. She looked up at me with a huge smile and said, “Mommy, I want to share my french fries with that little boy!” The thought wasn’t sad to her. It didn’t make her tear up. The joy of being able to give literally flooded out of her. Although she can sometimes play the shy card when approaching someone new, she walked right down the sidewalk, up to the woman and her son. The little boy, obviously curious about Brynna, started to smile as she approached. Brynna handed her happy meal to the boy, looked at his mom and said, “He can have my french fries.”As the little boy began to smile, his mom looked at me with the most sincere gratitude and mouthed “thank you so much.” And without thinking, I responded, “No, thank you.” As we walked away, I thought to myself that my reply was a bit out of place. I probably should have said, “You’re welcome.” Or “We hope this helps.” But in that moment, all I could think was to thank her – for being in that spot on this day when I had nothing else to do, nowhere else to be but on M St. NW to teach my daughter what it means to find a need and fill it.
As we sat eating our food, I realized about halfway through lunch that the funny out-of-sync feeling was gone. The stress of whether or not we go to an amusement park tomorrow had disappeared. And in it’s place was peace.
We ended the day having dinner with some new friends in Baltimore. They are friends of my childhood friend, Jeff, and together they all work with an organization called Kupenda. They raise funds, support schools and build into kids with disabilities in Kenya. And now, past her bedtime, BG is swimming in the hotel pool with her daddy. She doesn’t care that the day didn’t go as I had it pictured in my head. And neither do I.
I’ve heard it said many times that the answer to having peace and purpose in life is to find a need and fill it. That’s all. And when you fill one need, find another one. My new friends have found a need in Kenya, and they are filling it. Brynna found a need on a sidewalk in DC and filled it. Imagine if we all found a need – just one – every day and filled it. Your day may turn out looking nothing like you planned, but find a need. And fill it.