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The Little Things

Sometimes the little things make the biggest difference...

Being a single parent sucks sometimes.  With three kids, sometimes I miss the ease and convenience of having a second set of hands.  Sometimes it's empowering to face new situations and to know that I can and will make it through on my own.  Other times, it's just exhausting and overwhelming to know that I can and will make it through on my own.

The other day, I had just gotten home from picking up my daughter from dance class during which I had taken the other two kids with me to the grocery store.  It was 5 o'clock and I had one hour to fix their lunches for the following day, get them started on their homework, take out the trash and get ready for work.  My 80 year old neighbor across the street whose house we had parked in front of was also taking our her trash as we pulled up and I thought to myself, "Please, please, please don't engage me in conversation... not today, not now."  I got out of the car, herded the kids to help them across the street, and balanced our 2 bags of groceries on my hips.  Our eyes met as I sent the kids across the street, and I smiled politely and she said, "I don't know how you manage it all, but I think you're amazing."  Then she turned around and walked back into her house.

It stopped me in my tracks for a few seconds.  It was so kind and unexpected.  One little comment, but it was just the encouragement I needed to get through that next hour.  It transformed that next hour of chaos from drudgery and stress into an hour of motherhood and empowerment.  Sometimes the little things can make the biggest difference.

This afternoon, another small act of kindness.  We came home from a 5 day trip away to a driveway covered with at least 6 inches of heavy, wet snow.  I just wanted to unpack the car and sort through the presents and clothes and get dinner going... Instead, I would have to park in the street, shovel my driveway, then unpack the car, etc...  Not the end of the world, but it still sucked.

It's in those little moments when I realize how nice it would be to have a little help; to not have to do it alone.  But alone I was, so I got the kids settled in the house and set out to shovel.  I had to first shovel off my back porch, then a path to my garage and garbage can.  When I turned around to start in on my driveway, I was surprised to see my neighbor's teenage son and a little boy I had never seen before shoveling my driveway.  The three of us worked side-by-side for 45 minutes shoveling that driveway; it was some heavy snow and a lot of it.

As we talked and shoveled, I learned the whole story which really warmed my heart. My neighbor was babysitting his 8 year old cousin, DJ.  I had thought his mother, whom I am friends with, had asked him to shovel my driveway.  But she wasn't even home.  The two boys were out in the front yard building a fort for DJ when they saw me come home and they decided of their own accord to stop playing, and shovel my driveway.  They didn't even ask me for any money for their work, they were just being neighborly.  As I was talking to DJ, I asked him where he was from and he told me he lived in the projects in the city.  For better or for worse, that's not the kind of kindness I would expect from a high school boy and a kid from the projects.

At the end of our time together, I thanked them and paid them for their work and tried to explain to them how much that meant to me and how appreciative I was of their kindness. I hope they understood that sometimes the littlest things can make the biggest difference.

This was my first holiday season since the separation and divorce and it was so much harder than I thought it would be.  We were loved and cared for through the holidays, and my children had a great time - but it was still so difficult.  As we came home from our trip, there was part of me that just wanted to wrap up this holiday season and the extra inconvenience of having to shovel felt like the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  It was as if the universe was sending out one last little dig to remind me how alone I was.  I think I was feeling that way because I was physically and emotionally exhausted, but that's how it felt nonetheless.

Instead, I was reminded by two neighborly boys that no matter how alone I feel, I'm never really alone.  It was another reminder that kindness and goodness do exist, and you don't really have to look that hard to find them.  It was a good reminder that sometimes the little things can make the biggest difference.

My Christmas Angels - and my clean driveway!


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