When was the last time someone did something nice for you?
And by “you,” I’m referring to all you moms out there.
It’s not that dads and childless men and women don’t deserve their own sort of kindness. It’s that moms somehow manage to create a breed all their own. And this breed can curse and swear and condemn and judge with the greatest of ease. But when it comes to complimenting? You can hear the crickets chirp.
We are the toughest on ourselves and on those around us. Is it because we’re jealous or have no sympathy for others? Is it because the failure of others makes us feel better about ourselves? I certainly hope not.
Deep within us is the spirit of kindness. Look at all the projects out there devoted to it.
We want to have better lives and we want to feel more enriched. We want to treat ourselves kindly and more importantly, we want to treat others kindly. Ideally, our kindness is met with gratitude and not suspicion, as Gretchen Rubin suggests.
So where does it begin? And how does it begin? It starts with one action from one mother to another.
I wrote a post almost a year ago about a stroller that I won. It was a beautiful stroller that I had absolutely no need for. Yet still I wanted it. I coveted it. I didn’t want to sell it either. I couldn’t use it and yet I didn’t want anyone else to use it. Sound selfish? Yes, it was. Very selfish. And the longer I let that stroller sit in my garage, the longer I knew I would feel that way.
The following week, I was expecting to meet an online friend for the first time in real life. I had been chatting with @mommythisnthat online for as long as I could remember but she was coming to my neck of the woods and wanted to meet.
Sure. Why not?
Melisa seemed nice enough and she was going to be a stone’s throw away so we made plans to meet at the local mall. I think it was the morning we were supposed to meet, or maybe the morning before, and I woke up and literally felt like I had a message from God. It was telling me to give the stroller to Melisa. Not only was she expecting her second child, but it was her birthday. It just seemed right and once I made up my mind, I didn’t hesitate for a moment.
We had a lovely visit (because she is just lovely). We chatted like old friends and I sent her on her way with the new stroller. I didn’t think much of it. A few weeks later, she wrote a beautiful post about it all that brought me to tears. It wasn’t the fact that she had publicly acknowledged what I did, it was the fact that she recognized that I did it simply because I wanted to.
Now before this starts to sound like some overblown post about how great I am, I promise I’m going somewhere with this.
People remember kindnesses, no matter how large or small.
In February 2010, we decided to take a last minute trip to Walt Disney World. My son had just turned three and seemed to be the perfect age. I, however, was the completely ill-prepared mom. I forgot that potty training often goes out in the window in the face of a Mickey Mouse-induced fun coma.
We were at Hollywood Studios inside a building when my son informed me that he has to go potty. NOW! I rushed out of the exhibit hoping to quickly find the nearest bathroom in the nick of time. I found the bathroom alright. However, the nick of time wasn’t on my side.
We entered the stall just in time for everything to break loose, just inches away from the toilet. And I brought no additional change of clothes for him. I had no idea what to do. None.
A stranger had heard my exasperated voice and knew exactly what was going on. Out of nowhere, a large diaper was handed under the stall with someone saying “Here, can you use this?”
“Oh, yes, thank you,” was the only reply I could manage. I put my son in a dry diaper, walked him out of the restroom and under the cover of my husband and the stroller, I went and searched desperately in the park for an alternate set of shorts.
(Side note: I ended up with a $35 Mickey Mouse sweatsuit that was only worn twice.)
That small act – the gesture of handing me that diaper when I was at my wit’s end – was virtually a lifesaving act for me. And I never had a chance to properly thank that mother.
These little acts of kindness from one mother to another are the ones that can mean so much. Now, I need your help.
This is a profoundly important topic for me and I’m working on a project about this very thing. What I would love to hear from you, what I need to hear from you, is that I’m not alone.
Please share with me whatever stories you have (great or small) about a time you helped a mother in need or that someone helped you in need.
Because we could all use a little more kindness in our lives.