It’s a joy to introduce you to sweet Cynthia who unknowingly forever altered my view of “sugar and spice and everything nice!”
It was just four days from the start of the new school year for the kids. My husband planned a special trip to an amusement park with my son, so I planned a trip to the Mall of America for some fun at Nickelodeon Universe with my baby daughter, older daughter, and my daughter’s friend. Before we even left the house, the girls had determined it was crucial they wear their matching dresses. Purple dresses, energy, and all, we enjoyed a whole day at the mall – rides, lunch in the food court, a little shopping (we picked up some purple boots so they could be matching from head to toe, of course), rides, poses with characters, a snack, rides, a few bathroom breaks, and more rides!
Then we met Cynthia. We were eating dinner in the food court and she approached our table. As she quietly cleaned up the mess on the floor around us, she so sweetly complimented the girls on their matching dresses. “You girls are all dressed up so pretty!” Cynthia said. She noted their boots, and my daughter told Cynthia the whole story about how she had just bought the boots today in the mall. The girls smiled and giggled a bit, all cute and sweet.
Then Cynthia said “You girls sure are sugar and spice and everything nice, and make sure you keep it that way, alright?” As Cynthia walked away, one of the girls said playfully but assuredly “no way!” Both girls started giggling, looking towards Cynthia who was already at a distance.
As I watched Cynthia, thinking what a nice and sweet woman she was, what a delightful blessing she had been to me and the girls, already sensing I might want to blog about this interaction, I realized the girls were getting a little out of hand with their chocolate chip cookies. And suddenly, the sugar and nice had become a lot more spice!
Even the baby knew there was fun to be had!
Yes, she was somewhere under all of that love!
It wasn’t until after the cookie incident I realized that in those moments, I let all of the sugar and nice in me just wash away. I let the girls be girls. I let them be silly, I let them be goofy, I let them be themselves, and it was fun. I didn’t worry about what all of the people thought at the tables around us, I didn’t worry if they thought I was a perfect mom or not. The girls proved they have a little spice in them, and I did too by letting the girls just be. It was good, and it maybe even necessary to fully live in that moment.
How often am I just too sugary, too nice? I worry about making a good impression, I worry about things being perfect, I let things get to me, I want to do it right, I don’t want anyone to think bad things about me or my children, I want to raise my children right and live right! My heart wants to do it all just right, but my brain knows that meeting all of those criteria and living up to those standards is impossible. Things will never be perfect and often there are no clear answers. Sometimes, perhaps most of the time, others’ impressions of me really don’t matter. Not everybody is going to like me, understand me, or agree with me. And my children? Well, there is no set formula, and I can help re-package their little lives in sugar and nice over and over again, but they will still make mistakes and fail, just like me. In fact, it’s only by the grace of God that any of us make anything of ourselves. Our lives are not a direct result of doing or performing in some particular way, some prepackaged sugary and nice way of living, do it this way and you’ll get this result.
In fact, it is when we step out of the box and add a little spice to our lives, that we fully live.
Reflecting on that moment with the girls, I wonder if it is all a matter of the heart. If I trust that God made me in His image, then I am free to be ALL He created me to be, the sugar, the nice, AND the spice. While I of course want to parent responsibly and develop human beings to the very best of my ability, I also want to entrust them to God and free my children to be ALL they were created to be, not just the prepackaged sugar and nice box of unattainable perfection.
Thank you Cynthia, for being an angel in that moment. You helped me realize that sugar and spice and everything nice isn’t just about the sugar and nice. Sometimes it’s about the spice too.
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 1 Timothy 4:4