posted in Parenting
Today was one of those days I never want to repeat. I struggled. Cried. Counted down the hours until my husband came home from work. I was prepared to list it among the worst of 2017 until everything changed in an instant. And my day turned around for the better.
A stranger held a door open for me.
It sounds so simple, and it is. Sometimes it’s the small gestures that can make the biggest impact. Both my son and I were on the verge of melting down. I was trying to leave a store as quickly as possible. When it came time to navigate my stroller, a screaming child, and holding open a door — I faltered.
A woman in my line of sight suddenly dropped the sweater she was looking at. In a few quick strides she appeared at my side, giving a knowing smile. In a calming voice she said, “let me get that for you. It’s been a while, but I remember what you’re going through.”
The tears came again. But unlike the ones I’d been fighting a losing battle against for the better part of the day, these were happy tears. I’d just needed to feel validated in my struggle. Her gesture not only helped me, she was acknowledging me. I just needed to be seen.
After thanking her profusely I did two things. I told everyone I knew about the kind stranger who saved my day at H&M. And I started thinking — about strollers, strangers and new year’s resolutions.
Most parents will tell you, opening a door with one hand while pushing a stroller through it with the other isn’t easy. I’ve had adults stand and watch me. One even commented that she didn’t think I’d make it through, but was curious to see what would happen (I guess offering to help didn’t occur to her). I’ve also had people squeeze past me through a door that I held open with my butt.
And I’ve also had people hold the door for me. A few, like the woman today, dropped what they were doing to do so. Yet I somehow focus on the negative. When I calculated all the good deeds that had come my way over the past year I realized there’d been a lot. I’m lucky.
This year, instead of making a resolution that is nearly impossible for me to keep — such as vowing to never eat another grain of sugar — I’m looking inward. I’m resolving to appreciate the small stuff. And to put it back into the universe. I compiled 5 acts of kindness I’ve received in 2017 that I plan to repay in 2018.
- Hold open doors. For strollers, pregnant woman, small children, anyone. It takes a moment and can turn around someone’s day.
- Play peek-a-boo. Or anything else to help entertain a child — and help a parent. While holiday shopping last month my son was done, and started screaming and squirming in the shopping cart. I was about to abandon everything and walk out when the woman behind us in line began playing peek-a-boo with him. She entertained him the entire time we waited. As I thanked her she told me she was a mother and grandmother and understood my struggle.
- Speak up. Tell a mom she’s doing a good job. Compliment her child. Or let her know she’s not alone, whether with words or a knowing smile.
- Make another mom an offer. And mean it. My husband and I are in the process of moving, with a toddler. It’s beyond hectic. And stressful. A fellow mom from my son’s school offered to watch him while we pack. And she’s checked in twice to see if we’re ready for her to babysit. I’ll try to duplicate this by running an errand for a new mom, or dropping off dinner when one has the flu.
- Take turns with friends. I struggled with postpartum depression for most of the year. I ignored my needs. A friend made me an appointment to get my hair cut, and had me drop off my son at her house so I could go. I’d like for me and my friends do more for ourselves, and help each other with childcare to ensure we can.
For more of my mom journey, follow me on Instagram at Witty Otter.
What acts of kindness are you thankful for as 2017 ends? How can we help other parents?
Images by Becky Vieira