After four hours of walking, we were all definitely ready for a sit down and a dinner. I had been carrying Manasseh the entire time, all 13 lbs of him, in my Moby wrap. I was tired of holding him. My chest was slick with our combined sweat, his drool, and spit-up. So I was looking forward to him (hopefully!) sleeping in his carrier in the restaurant ... but no such luck. The minute we sat down, he started to fuss, and nothing would do but I pick him up. So I leaned over, unhooked his harness, and scooped him up in my arms.
That was when I felt something slick and drippy on my forearm. Uh oh. I knew without looking that we had a blowout. Off through the packed restaurant I went, thanking my lucky stars we weren't at 'home', and nobody would know who I was, with my poop covered baby held slightly away from me, sweaty, and exuding an overall feeling of droopiness.
The bathroom was empty. Luckily. Because when I opened that sucker up, I discovered the biggest poop I have ever witnessed on an infant. This is including Sophie, who used to get it half way up her back at nap time. It looked like he had been dipped in bright orange pudding from the knees to the waist. The first dozen wipes didn't even make a dent, and I seriously considered tossing my (favorite) $20 cloth diaper due to the sheer volume of the stuff. When I had finally gotten him and myself clean, Manasseh was screaming his head off. And you know how those bathrooms can echo. It was a cacophony.
He quieted down into an injured silence ("How COULD you put me through that, Mommy?") and we made our way back through the crowd to our table.
The first thing I saw when I sat down were huge, silent tears rolling down Xander's cheek. "What's wrong with him? What happened?" I asked Scott.
"He ate a 'spicy french fry'," Scott explained, gesturing to the plate of Texas Cheese Fries sitting innocuously in the middle of our table.
I looked back at Xander, who had stuffed half of a napkin into his mouth, and helpfully suggested, "Son, eat some ranch. It'll make it feel better."
"Mommmmmmmy, I can't figure out what to draw here." This from Sophie, sitting to my right. I glanced down. She had a house and a sky and a sun on her child's menu, and was gesturing to a space beside the house.
"Umm, draw a tree."
"Don't you think I already mentioned ranch? And water. But he won't put anything in his mouth. Only a napkin." Xander now had the entire napkin in his mouth. Scott looked frustrated.
"But Mooooom, I don't have a brown crayon. I can't draw a tree without a brown crayon. I only have red."
"Then draw an apple tree, Sophie. Xander, get that napkin out of your mouth." Scott and I exchanged trapped looks across the table. Then Manasseh chimed in, beginning to root at my neck and squirm. I knew what that meant. He was hungry.
Just then the waitress arrived with our entrees. In vain I tried to bounce the baby as I ate, but he just wasn't having it. He let loose a warning squawk that reverberated over the noise of the packed restaurant, and I knew from experience that if I didn't feed him soon, he would be screaming. Loudly.
Giving up, I switched places with Sophie so that I would be beside the wall, threw my Moby wrap over my shoulder, and gave Manasseh what he needed. There I was, sweaty, tired, juggling older kids, nursing a baby, and attempting to eat with my left hand. I used to wonder why women saw it necessary to nurse in restaurants. Now I know. God forgive me for my judgemental attitude!
We finished up with our meals, and flagged the waitress next time she passed our table to ask for the check.
"Actually, somebody has already offered to pay for your meal," she said. Scott and I stared at her in stunned silence.
"Yeah, somebody already told the manager that they would pay for your meal," she repeated, since we continued to not say anything.
"Really?" It was all I could say. Tears were welling up in my eyes. This whole time I had been worrying about how we looked to the rest of the restaurant ... and someone had looked at our distress with kindness and compassion in their heart, and wanted to help. I felt humbled. I felt undeserving. I felt grateful.
As we drove home, still trying to process the kindness of a stranger, a verse came to mind:
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for a good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5: 6 - 8And I thanked God for strangers who gave willingly to us, and I thanked Him for giving willingly, too.