The week before Christmas I took the boys shopping. I needed tape and wrapping paper. They needed gifts for one another.
The three big boys were given free reign of Tuesday Morning. The two littles and I roamed around.
On one aisle we met a kind lady. She smiled at the excitement of my energetic boys and our adventure. It was hectic, but wonderful. She had raised seven kids, and delighted in the memories we brought her. She was lovely.
As we walked on she said, “I think you’re great!”
“You met us on a really good day,” I playfully replied.
She smiled. She understood. Some days we parent well. Some days not so much.
The outing declined with the two littles falling apart and a confused cashier as we juggled concealed purchases.
I beamed through it all because of an unexpected kindness.
That morning, I received kindness, but I love to give it too.
In the grocery a young child, who follows instruction, will hear from me, “You listen so well!” The child beams. The parent looks at me with that look that says, “Yeah, that time.” Weariness can undo the best of us parents.
“She listened that time. You’re doing a lot of things well. Keep it up. Around five is gets easier if you’re even mostly consistent,” I reply.
Almost always, the weariness lifts with the hope that it will not always be so hard.
The unexpected kindness of being seen, celebrated, and encouraged lifts them a little higher.
I have also been in the store when my kids don’t listen so well. One day when my dad was so sick, and I was more spent than I knew, the cashier smiled and said, “Your kids are always so well-behaved.”
“What?” I replied.
“Your kids are just great,” she answered.
“Could you say that one more time? It’s been a REALLY hard day,” I shamefully responded.
She smiled. I smiled. My kids were not their best selves. I was not my best self. Instead of getting lost in that low moment, an unexpected kindness lifted me higher.
From the daily grind and a bad moment to hard seasons in life, an unexpected kindness can help us not grow weary in doing good.
Let’s encourage one another. When you see a parent victory, great or small, tell them. Your unexpected kindness will make their day. It will probably be a gift to you too.