What I Learned About Kindness.

  

Digging through a box of old photographs, I found myself in uncharted territory. Memories cascaded through my mind of my childhood.

I remember this little girl.

She loved to play in the woods. She would race the boys at any opportunity and she would win. She was the first to raise her hand in school. She knew all the answers or thought she did.

She challenged her mother on a daily basis. Secretly, she was just like her. She loved to cuddle with her daddy at night. She loved sports and was very competitive. 

I remember this little girl.

She was just like all the other kids, but she looked different.

I brought the box of photos out after my son ask me a question one night. “Mom, why do you care so much about us being kind to other people?” “It’s okay to joke with people and call them names, right.”

A simple answer would have been, “Be kind because I said so.” or “Because God tells us that we have to love everyone.” 

 I wanted them to understand the truth. KINDNESS is huge in my vocabulary. WORDS HURT.

I wanted to show my kids the photos of me that they had never seen. The photos that showed a little girl that was just like them. She was happy and loved cartoons, riding her bike and going to school. On the inside she was just like them, she just looked different. 

Questions swirled through my mind. I wanted to ask them if they saw this little girl, would they be her friend? Would they ask her to play at recess or would they ask to be moved away from her?       

Would my children recognize this little girl in the photo?  

It took me two months to show my kids the photos of myself as a little girl. (Some were very graphic.) I did not know what they would think of the pictures. Would they see their mommy as the same strong person? Or as the little girl that was teased in school. How could I convey to them how important this was to me?

I prayed for strength. I prayed for guidance and faith. 

I finally sat down with each one of my kids and shared a past that only a few people have seen. I told them the story of a little girl who reminded me of each one of them. 

Then I asked them if they would like to see a picture of her.

 I told them how loved the girl was. I also told them how people who did not understand could often be very hurtful and cruel.

As I talked to my oldest daughter her response was, “Cool.” “Can I show my friends?”  and “That must have hurt.” “But, can I go watch Cupcake Wars now!”

Hmm… God! I was expecting a bigger reaction…. (Sigh of relief)

 My son offered a hug and compared the size of our scars. We measured them in inches. He said, “I love you.” “That must have hurt your feelings when someone would tease you.” My youngest daughter did not want to see any pictures of the boo-boos mommy had. I only showed her one picture and that was enough for her to feel sad and scared.

As I looked at each one of my children I could see myself. Ben is caring and questions everything in the world around him. He also has his mother’s competitive spirit. Natalee is fierce with infinite amounts of energy. Sophia is relentless and exercises her right to debate at every given moment.

I showed my children the pictures of myself because I wanted them to be able stand in my shoes for a moment.  In order to be a kind person, you need to have be able to see what other people are going through. I want to see my kids have the ability to show compassion and feel empathy for another person. 

 There are many times when we miss out on the chance to meet someone great out of fear or because we think people are unlike us. I hope we all take the opportunity to step out of our comfort zones. Lean over and talk to the person in a wheel chair, say hi to a person with special needs, and be especially nice to the quiet nerdy girl or guy sitting next to you in class.  Who knows, he or she may be the next President of the United States.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

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Valentines Day, Already!

  

Valentine’s Day is here. February is the month of LOVE. I will let you in on a little secret, I do not Love Valentine’s Day.  WalMart has once again vomited red and pink balloons in every aisle. People are pushing and shoving to grab the last pack of their favorite character valentines. Argh! My smile eludes me as I turn the corner as four million stuffed animals are lying all over the floor.

Check Please!

Oh my… I cannot bear to see any more tiny red cactuses, miniature tulips or mylar balloons. Ugh. I am overwhelmed with to-do lists. But just wait everything will be half off tomorrow and Easter will be draped in every aisle. 

Don’t forget the valentines! Twenty per child times three, candy times twenty times three and teacher gifts. “Mommy, you can’t buy candy with gluten?” “Does candy have gluten in it?” As I am standing there waiting to check out, I read the box of Valentines. Conveniently, sixteen per box and eighteen in a class. Of course, another plot to try to make the consumer spend more money. Ha, well the last laugh is on you because I am not buying extra. My kids can handwrite the rest of their valentines!!! I am now convinced this holiday wants to add stress to mothers.

But, let’s not forget the boyfriends and husbands who are constantly compared to the guy who does it better. That creative guy who drips candle wax in the shape of the first place they met. He has generously handpicked roses (I think he grew them) and scattered them across the floor as he is down on one knee with an engagement ring from Zale’s. (Fairytale Syndrome)

“Thank you hunny, I love Mylar balloon and my mini red cactus from WalMart.” 

Cheesiness is in the air. As I scroll through Facebook I see the love on the screen. EVERYWHERE! Those who profess their undying passion for one another, their Godly love, their longevity. But what I really want to hear people say is sometimes I want to leave, sometimes I am so angry at you, but this is hard work.

Could this be me talking? I am usually so optimistic. Why just a day to show love, shouldn’t we show love every day.

I went to my room and just sat by myself for twenty minutes of God and chocolate. As I walked outside, I saw that my husband cleaned all of the spilled goldfish and crumbs out of the back of my van. (Godwink)

That was my Godwink for the day. And I winked back. “I know, I hear what you are telling me.” Be still and listen. It is not about the day or the balloons, it is about Loving God first. Now go share that love with others.

“Let all that you do be done in Love.” 1 Corinthians 16:24

I really do Love “Love” so I want to try to celebrate the Month of Love without gifts. There has to be something I can do to enjoy the love without Fifty Shades of Mylar. 

Give Love: God is Love and he wants us to give our time and talents to help others. It is important to talk to my kids about how we give love to one another and some ways we can be more loving people this month.

Code Name/ Word: We made a special code name or word that means “I Love You” with each child. It can also be a hand symbol. This way everyone has their own unique way to signal to mom, dad or their siblings. (If you see a lot of dabbing going on you know a lot of love is in the air.)

Listen: I have promised to put my phone down when my kids are talking. This is going to be a difficult one. When they are telling me about their day, I will focus on them and listen. I know my kids feel more loved when I give them full attention. An offer to cuddle at night won’t be turned down this month.

Love Jar: We are creating a family “Love Jar”. The jar will be filled with positive affirmations about other family members throughout the year. Special events or fun times can be shared. At the end of the year all of the thoughts are shared. I am excited about this one.

Say It: There is not a night that goes by when I don’t say I Love You to my husband or my children. But it is hard to find a moment to pull someone aside to just say “You look so pretty today.” and “I love you.” I am going to try to find a few more of these with each one of my kids.

Whether or not you love Valentine’s Day or hate Valentine’s Day because of what it represents to you, I’m sure you too can find a reason to celebrate it. My kids are totally pumped about giving out Valentines and that makes it all worth it. I think I may even bring some cookies to the class party.

A blog on Valentine’s Day from a Mom who can have a rough day, but when she sees her kids and hubby smile everything gets better. XOXO