My husband travels for work, so roughly every other week I find myself doing the morning routine solo for a few days. I can set that alarm like a boss and getting kids out the door on time is my superpower. They even get to school with their teeth brushed and hair combed, mostly. But the part of the morning rush that I loathe is making the sandwiches for their lunches. Ugh. Bryan makes those sandwiches every morning when he’s home, without complaint. But me…Why are there so many steps to making two sandwiches? I counted the other day and I opened and closed things 37 times in the process of making two sandwiches. Why is this so complicated?! Because I’m terrible at it and thus hate it so much, the kids almost always buy school lunch when Bryan is gone.
In a little pep talky moment of inspiration recently, I started telling myself that I can do hard things. I’ve used this mantra to try to tackle the stuff I’m not good at – and I made the boys’ sandwiches last week. One PB&J and one ham and cheese. Boom. I told myself that I could do it; I looked for ways to simplify the process - like getting all the crap out of the fridge at once and not on 8 separate occasions. I quoted some scripture to myself about how I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength and I told myself I’m pretty. (I’m a fan of pep talks.) I slathered on that mayo and jelly (not on the same sandwich, no) and piled on the slimy lunch meat ham. I put the top piece of bread on those babies and stepped back to admire my work. I cut those creations in half and slid them into a Ziploc bag and told myself how proud I was for a job well done.
Fast forward to that afternoon when I’m picking boys up from school: My oldest is in middle school so we do the tween boy smalltalk of:
“How was sch—“
“Good,” he interrupts before I can even finish the question.
“Do you have any hom—“
“No,” he replies without thinking through his day to try to remember if he actually has homework.
I asked him how his sandwich was, because what gets rewarded gets repeated and I’m not above begging for affirmation. He perked right up and said, “It was really good! You cut it in half. Bunny never cuts it in half and I liked it better because you did that today.” I make a mental note and smile proudly.
Later that afternoon I picked up my middle boy. I ask him how his day was and because he is a people pleaser and hasn’t grown into any tween boy angst yet, he actually lets me finish the question. He replies with, “It was good. The best part was at lunch when I found out that you cut my sandwich in half.” Woohoo! I tried to hide my enthusiasm though and played it cool with “Oh yeah, that? No biggie. Glad you liked it.” (All the while squealing inside.)
Because I’m a teacher at heart and I can turn every moment into a life lesson, here’s my takeaway for you: The thing that makes you different might just be the very thing that makes someone’s day. Stop conforming. Stop trying so hard to blend in and hide. Cut that sandwich even though nobody else does. We need more different in our days. Own that weird laugh you have, rock those curls that frizz no matter what you do, or those flip flops you wear in December. Be awkward. Be you.