One Thing Life Has Taught Me...
Is that everyone has a story.
And what you see or perceive on the outside, is not necessarily the reality. Of course the untimely death of Charlotte Dawson came as rather a shock to most of us, and proves my point - what we saw or perceived as a fairytale life, was not the reality that she was living. But I had been thinking along these lines previous to this anyway - there have been a few instagram quotes lately about kindness; and then a couple of bloggers got honest, and admitted they were struggling with 'The Black Dog', just as Charlotte had been.
So I have been thinking and wondering how to be a little kinder in this harsh world we live in...
* Sometimes all it takes is a smile!
I know a smile from others can make a difference - especially when you're dealing with difficult children; so often you feel the silent judgement, but now and then you get a parent or grandparent who gives you the 'I've been there also, and you will survive' smile! You know that smile, you can read it in their eyes - empathy and understanding resonates with your soul when you get that smile! I try to do this when I see others struggling with little children (and underneath think 'Thank You God it's not my kids this time' as well)!
* A kind comment can make a world of difference!
My Mum; when she see's a Mum in the supermarket with all the children, will often make a positive comment about the kids as she goes past - something about how well behaved they are, or how polite, or just tells the Mum she doing a wonderful job and to keep it up (it is always something she has quietly observed, she doesn't lie about the kids... so sometimes it is just a comment on how nicely they are dressed if all else fails!)!
One of my neighbours did this recently - I had been struggling getting both the kids into the car in time for Preschool drop-off, one or the other had run away etc (you know the scenario)! One of the neighbours popped out and started chatting to the children, bringing them slowly back under control for me... he then proceeded to tell me that we were doing a wonderful job, and that the kids are both delightful. I smiled a weak smile and thanked him - then proceeded to cry quietly all the way up the drive, so grateful for the kind words, as I felt anything but a wonderful Mum that morning.
* A small hand-made gift can lighten someone's load!
I don't mean something fancy or arty / crafty - a hand-written note, a text, an e-mail even = just something to let the person know you're thinking of them. It doesn't have to be someone you know is struggling, just a friend you haven't touched base with for a while; you never know what is going on behind closed doors, and what your words could mean to them. I have two friends who are going through really tough times, and this is something I really need to practise; sending a quick text does not take much time out of my day, but it could make a big difference to their day.
If it is someone closer by (my two friends both live many hours away from us), then some home-made baking or just a card popped into their letterbox. You could pop over and see them unexpectedly and offer to take them out for a coffee, or babysit the kids so they can have some down-time, or do some housework for them. Drop a cooked meal in, so after a rough day there is one less thing to do (just be aware of allergies, says she who has an allergy-family)!
One of my daughters Preschool Teachers has just been diagnosed with cancer and is very sick, so the other day we took some groceries over for her and her son. I know she probably isn't up to eating herself, so I gave it a bit of thought and chose sausages, frozen veggies and oven chips for an few evening meals - something quick and easy her son could cook up for himself. Not overly nutritious but better than a sandwich or 2-minute noodles... I also included bread, milk, baked beans and packs of plain and gingernut biscuits - thinking she may be able to nibble on those when she is up to it. It didn't cost us very much, but it said 'we care' to a lovely lady who is very sick, and to her son who is her main caregiver when she is at home.
Another blogger I met the other day, Lisa over at Big Little has started the 'Cookie Connection' project (link takes you straight to that page); where she is baking cookies once a week with her daughter, and dropping them off around her neighbourhood. They are still fairly new to the area, so this is giving her the opportunity to meet people - but what she may never know, is how much this gesture could change someone else's day. I really admire her, and hopefully one day will take the chance of doing something like this myself!
There are many ways in which we could show a little more kindness - to complete strangers, as well as people around us... friends, acquaintances and of course, family. These are just a few off the top of my head; things I know would have made a difference in my life in the past, and even today.
We don't know someone else's story until we walk in their shoes awhile... so many out there are what my Mum calls 'The Smiling Depressive'; you ask them how they are, and they smile and say fine. I have to admit to being one of these - you will not be told the truth unless I know you are genuine, if it is just social niceties then expect the expected answer back!
So lets all show a little more kindness today, tomorrow, next week... you may make a world of difference to a complete stranger, and despite the fact you may never know it - I think that possibility is worth the risk!