- At Home
Sunday afternoon I was finally headed home after running a million errands that I had put off all week. As I got closer to the house I was gearing up for the debate that would be waiting for me when I got inside and announced to the kids that they had to clean their rooms.
It is hard to keep a straight face when my girls look and me and say, “but mom, it might look to you like our clothes are all over the floor, but we know where everything is” or the boys telling me, “we can’t pick up the Legos mom ‘cause we are still building something (this “thing” they are building has been under construction for almost a year).
I was about a mile away from my house when I noticed that a car not too far ahead of me had slowed to a crawl and pulled over. I saw the driver get out and head towards the gas station on the corner. Having recently experienced my own “I thought I had enough in the tank but I guess I was wrong” walk of shame to the gas station, I thought how easy it would be for me to help this man.
We had cut the lawn earlier at the house so I knew the gas can was still sitting out by the mower in the driveway, so I ran by the house and picked it up. I headed back up the street to find the man who had ran out of gas. I found him and drove him back to his car. Of course before he could get in to my car I had to shovel all of the papers and items from the passenger seat floor and throw them in the back seat. When he got in he said, “I’m going to roll the window down and hold the gas can out so I don’t smell up your car with the fumes.” So thoughtful, but honestly it probably would have been more of a freshener with the number of sweaty basketball clothes and wet bathing suits and towels that the kids had left in the car from the day before.
We started talking and he told me how he and his family moved here when they were forced from their home when Hurricane Katrina hit. They just packed up and left and ended up here. He never thought they would still be here, but the people were so nice that now it was their home. I dropped him off at his car and headed home.
As I pulled up to the house, the kids came running out and asked me where I had gone. I told them the story and one of the girls asked, “Mom, why did you do that, you didn’t even know that person?” I told her, “Because it is what we are supposed to do. The simple unexpected things that make people know that regardless of whether we know them or not, someone cares.”
I have continued to think about that man and his family over the past few days and how hard and scary it must have been to move here. It reminded me of something someone had told me one time. A few years ago a friend of mine died very suddenly. I really struggled with it, trying to understand it and figure out how to fill the hole that was left. This person said to me, “you drive to work every day. You know how to get there. You never pay attention to getting there because you know the way so well,” she said. “When you experience a loss or a life changing event of any kind, you feel lost. Your life is like that road that you drive every day. But one day you wake up and suddenly that road that you took to work every day, someone has come and torn all of the trees down that were along the road down. You know it is still the road, this is still your life, but it looks and feels so different because something is missing. Nothing is familiar and looks like it used to look. You feel lost. In time it will become what you are used to and you will feel comfortable with the road again. Eventually it will become the road that once again you become familiar with and will be the new normal.”
Today was a long day of closing one chapter of my life and working late at the job I love to meet some deadlines as I start a new chapter in my life. I had told the kids the night before that this was going to be a long, difficult day for me. I had left before the children had even woken up and it was 10 pm when I finally got home. I would have been overcome by mommy guilt except I was too exhausted to even hold on to that. All I wanted to do was take a shower, hug my babies and think about how tomorrow would be a new day and a new start.
As I walked in the front door, I was completely caught off guard. Standing in the foyer were my children and some of their friends, who I love as if they were my own. They were all standing there clapping and cheering and throwing confetti at me. As I felt the tears begin to drip down my face I looked at my daughter and asked her “why? Why are you all cheering for me?” She said, “Mom, because you have always shown us that this is what we are supposed to do.”
Changes, obstacles, challenges and loss are something we will all face at some point in our lives. It can leave us feeling as if we have no idea where we are anymore. But the truth is that we are all one gas can, one cheer, one kind moment away from being able to remind someone that this unfamiliar road can still give a sense of comfort.
So why reach out to someone you know or to a complete stranger to let them know you care? Why do we do it? Because that is what we are supposed to do.
To share a moment when someone random act of kindness touched your life, to share a story of how you reached out to do something kind for someone whose path you crossed, email email@example.com. We would love to share your “random acts of kindness” stories on our website, www.tlhmoms.com.