“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.” –Chinua Achebe
“I got it.”
“No, I got it.”
“No, really. I got it.”
This exchange happened every time I went out for a meal with both my mom and grandma. As the only kid among the group, I would sit back and watch the argument unfold, not having the desire or ability to pay the bill. After about ten minutes of physical and verbal tug-o-war, one of them would finally admit defeat. The “winner,” the one who actually had to fork over the money for the meal, would smugly whip out her wallet and throw down some money. At the time, I didn’t get it.
“Hey mom,” I would say, “don’t worry I’ll never fight you for the bill when we go out to eat when I’m older.” I really meant it too at the time. My 10-year-old brain couldn’t understand the concept of fighting for the opportunity to pay for something. Fortunately I’ve since become a little wiser, and I’d love to be able to pay for every meal out with my mom. I imagine the conversation would go something like this.
“Mom, you paid for my meals for so many years. It’s my turn now.”
“Thanks. I’ve raised such a generous daughter.”
“Now would you like the value fries or the value nuggets because I can’t afford both?”
Okay so this is a little removed from the truth. But only a little. When you’re a stay-at-home mom and your husband is a graduate student (6th and final year!), you don’t have a lot of expendable income. Whether it’s because my mom knows this or because she is just that nice (I think it’s both) she almost always pays for our family’s meal when we go out to eat. Brad and I are immensely grateful for this act of kindness.
Now my younger self would be shocked by this revelation, but I find myself wishing I could engage more in arguments over who pays the bill with my mom. It would be such a simple way of showing her how much I care for and love her. Which is why I knew I needed to include taking my mom out for a meal in with my random acts of kindness.
We arranged to meet at Barry’s Bagel, a local sandwich shop we both like. When it was time to pay for the food, I whipped out my random act of kindness card and told her that I was buying lunch today. I knew she couldn’t argue with that one. It felt good picking up the bill; it was nice being able to do this small act of kindness. But what was even nicer was just getting to spend some quality time with my mom.