I took Laura to Panera for dinner on Monday, because I thought she might like to use the free WiFi for a little Diego fix.  I was all pumped up on “AWESOME MOM” vibes as we hauled our gear to a booth and set up shop.  “Laura is so going to love me for this!  Yay, Diego for making me look awesome!”

And then Laura proceeded to not care a lick for her lover boy, preferring instead to push a gazillion buttons and open and shut the screen over and over.  The more I tried to get her to stop banging on the precious laptop, the harder she banged, and the more frustrated I became.  At that point, I was starting to get all worried and self-conscious of the staring eyes of the other diners.  I imagined them scorning my parenting, “Why can’t she get that little brat to stop yelling and banging?”  In my embarassed frustration, I whisked the laptop away from the exuberant tot and started trying to collect myself.

In an instant, Laura was behaving as well as I’ve ever seen her.  Just content to sit on the funny bench, eating some brocolli & cheddar soup.  An older man came over, smiled, and said, “You are doing such a great job.  What a well-behaved little girl.”  Well, that was certainly not anything I expected to hear.

But Laura was being a well-behaved little girl.  She was behaving as well as anyone could expect from a toddler at dinnertime in a restaurant.  A little crazy?  Yeah, but that comes with the territory.  I am sure that man saw me get frustrated, and he knew that sometimes moms just need a little reassurance that they’re doing things “right.”  Bless that man.

In a similar vein, last night I apologized in an off-hand manner as my grocery cart went careening into another man’s cart.  I usually have better control, but that’s usually because I can get Laura to sit nicely in the cart.  Last night, she insisted on being held as I pushed the heavily laden cart with one hand through the aisles.  I apologized, automatically, as my one hand had lost control for a moment.  This man looked at my comically loaded cart, toddler in arms, laughed and said, “Never be sorry!”

He was right.  Never be sorry.  Reminders that we are good mothers can come in the funniest messages.  The older man at the restaurant.  Or another at the grocery store.  Simple messages that we are doing our best, and that we should ever apologize for doing our best.