“Your bill has been covered. No need to pay”
We looked in shock at our server.
“What do you mean ‘covered’?” Normally not suspicious, we couldn’t believe what we were hearing.
“Your son called and made arrangements to pay the bill. He says to tell you ‘Happy Father’s Day’”.
Warmth flowed to the marrow of our bones. This was pure delight. A completely unexpected surprise. The same thing had occurred a couple of years ago when, after asking for a check from a Father’s Day breakfast, a smiling waitress told us the bill was paid. That time it was our oldest son. He snuck away at some point during the meal and the deed was done.
It is unanticipated grace. They don’t owe us anything – we’re their parents. But they did it anyway, out of grace and love.
There is something about this paying the bill thing. When it happens the first time you realize you are in a different relationship, the playing field leveled. No longer do we relate as mom/dad/child, rather we relate as adult to adult.
It’s a sense of awe and wonder the helpless babe you brought into the world, reliant on you for life itself has grown into a fully functioning, autonomous adult. And that fully functioning, autonomous adult just paid the bill.
Parenting is hard. The minute we have that baby in our arms, whether through birth or adoption, there is a massive chink in our well-oiled armor. Parenting brings out the absolute worst and best in us. We are faced with our mortality and our weakness, at the same time we learn what it is like to love without condition, without expectation — we learn to love more like God.
And there are regrets. We are human. We look back on situations and wish we had handled them differently, wish we had not reacted so immediately, wish we had loved more and better.
So when these glorious moments of grace come, we drink them in with deep gratitude. And then we order dessert.