Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness

photoI’ve been reading a lot of heart-warming stories on the internet lately, about these amazing people who anonymously pay off someone’s student loans, or pick up the check for an unsuspecting veteran at a restaurant, or pay extra at the Starbucks window to “pay it forward” to the person behind them in line.

I absolutely love these stories.  In fact, I could probably get a lot more work done if I would quit clicking on every.single.one of these stories.  They are so inspiring, so selfless, and so important in this world.

Random acts of kindness.

But today, I want to chat a bit about the flip side of this coin, which I think can honestly be just as inspiring, and selfless, and important in this world: the not-so-random acts of kindness.  In other words, the everyday, ordinary, “no big deal” acts of kindness that we extend to our family and our friends.  These acts, these demonstrations of our love for one another, no matter how small and menial they may seem, can truly be the light in someone’s dark day, the hope that they need to get through tomorrow, and we best not forget that.

These acts are not the stuff of viral videos on YouTube, or bloggers on the Huffington Post.  But to someone, to someone that you love, these acts are everything.  Everyone could use a little extra love in their day.

Especially moms.

While at the Inspire Motherhood Conference last weekend, I attended a workshop called “Supermom Must Die”.  We had an amazing conversation about “supermom” expectations, ideals that cause stress in our daily lives, and most importantly, how to break down these expectations and learn to love the moms that we truly are, not the moms that we wish to be or the perfect moms that we think we see on social media.  But the one thing that stuck out the most to me from this workshop was the following:

Never miss an opportunity to give a compliment.

I have been thinking about this ever since I walked away that day, and I am convinced that it is pure brilliance.  So Leslie, if you are reading this, kudos to you for teaching that workshop and for inspiring us to become better, stronger moms through supporting each other!

Never miss an opportunity to give a compliment.

Think about it for a minute.  Have you ever gotten up in the morning, put on your makeup and done your hair, picked out a cute outfit, {insert 10,000 things you do each day}, and then washed off your makeup, put your hair back, exchanged the cute outfit for your sweatpants and t-shirt from high school days, and laid your head on your pillow to realize that no one acknowledged the fact that you did any of the above?  I’m sure we’ve all had days like this.

But think about this:  What if, on that same day, you had walked into Storytime with your toddler, and a fellow mom-friend had said “oh my gosh, I love the way you are wearing your hair today!” or “where did you get that shirt? I need to get one!”.  These little words, these silly little words, can mean oh-so-much, can’t they?

Or let’s take it one step further:

You are having a particularly rough day.  You worked all day, and after you pick up the kids you have to stop by the store for a few things.  Disaster ensues.  Two toddlers in a grocery cart is never a good idea, after all.  Fighting and screaming, crumpled loaves of bread under size 2 shoes, unwanted items being tossed into the cart left and right.  You do your best to scan your list and race through the store as if your life depended on getting out of there in less than sixteen minutes.  You try every distraction method known to mom, and finally you breathe a sigh of relief as you begin to put your items onto the conveyor belt. You’re in the home stretch!  Suddenly, a fellow mom from your PTA group comes walking over {insert dread here}.

“I saw you in the cereal aisle,” she says with a smile.  “Where did you get that awesome sticker book that you pulled out of your purse for the kids? Amazing distraction tactic, I totally need to get my hands on one of those!”

Wow.

If that doesn’t turn a mom’s day around, I don’t know what will.  We all need a little bit (or a lot) of encouragement in our days, no matter what those days look like.  Working moms, stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms, or anyone in-between, this is the toughest job on earth.

So today I am challenging you to this: don’t miss the chance to give a compliment.  Be aware of opportunities for not-so-random acts of kindness.  As much as I LOVE a good pay-it-forward, give-the-waitress-a-$200-tip story, those aren’t things that can happen every single day (or at least not for most of us).  But there are things that we can do every day.

Tell that mom in the carpool lane that her hair looks fabulous today.

Look your kids in the face and tell them why you love them.  Why they are amazing.  Why the world is better with them in it.

Tell someone that you’re sorry.  And mean it.

Ask your child’s teacher what you could do to help in his/her classroom (whether that’s time, money, donations, etc.)

Send a picture of your kids to a family member who doesn’t have Facebook/internet.

Buy your BFF’s favorite candy and drop it in her mailbox for her, for no reason.

Ask a family member what they could use some help with.  And do your best to help them.

Thank your spouse for all that he or she does to contribute to your happy family.  Be specific.

Take your kids to the movies on a Tuesday afternoon just because you love them.

Text a friend on the anniversaries of hard days (miscarriages, deaths in the family, etc.) to say “I remember”.

Listen.

Encourage.

Forgive.

Inspire.

Love.

photo (1)Over the last few weeks, I was over-stressing about the current situation of my household {i.e. chaos} and was venting to my cousin {i.e. my sister} about the fact that we were having a guest come to visit and my guest room was literally FULL of stuff.  She and my mom both offered to help me clean, but as we moms tend to do, I turned down the help and struggled through the mess on my own.  The night before our guest was due to arrive, my cousin shows up at the door with these beautiful flowers and this precious note.  And this, my friends, is why I love her.  And why I need her (and my mom and my best friend and the rest of my “village”) in my life.  Because she gets it.  She gets me.  And I can put my head on that pillow at night with a smiling face and a warm, warm heart.

Be that person for someone today.  Be intentional in your friendships, in your relationships with the people most important in your life.  You just never know when they are going to need those words, those selfless acts, those tangible reminders of your love for them.

 

And while you’re at it, give the “random” acts a try, too.  The person behind you at Starbucks will appreciate it.

 

 

 

Sara and her husband Matt (sweethearts since they were just 16) got married in 2007, and since then have welcomed four beautiful children (Sam in 2008, Cooper in 2010, Nora in 2012, and Adam James in December 2015). A born-and-raised Iowan, Sara received both her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees (in Spanish Literature) from the University of Iowa. She's still teaching Spanish wherever and whenever she can, but her true passion is owning Iowa City Moms and building this community alongside her amazing team. Sara is also the Community Engagement Coordinator for City Mom Collective, and the owner of Cowork Collective downtown Iowa City. Common denominator in all of these jobs: community, community, community.

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