Saturday, October 11, 2014
Found this on my windshield after shopping at New Seasons. Actually, that's not exactly true. Found it on my windshield about five miles down the road, after shopping at New Seasons. Almost drove back to see if every car in the parking lot also had one, or if I was special.
I didn't quite know what to make of it. I am not one for evangelizing. I'm not one for trying to convert someone to another way of thinking. I am, however, one for random acts of kindness, and in the end, chalked it up to just that.
In some ways my life has never been better, and in some ways, it's never been more challenging. I remember being a new mother, and talking to my friend Ruth. Her two girls were just enough older than my two, that she held wisdom I was looking for. I'll never forget what she said, "At each stage, something gets easier, and something gets harder."
I've thought of that over and over through the years, and it's as true in life, as it is in child-raising. It's too easy to focus on what's getting harder, than what is getting easier. Sometimes it requires a step back and a wider view to see that it's even true: something has gotten easier.
Today I found myself with an unexpected free day. Wil got to help at the Snack Shack from 8-2. I didn't know what to do with myself. My mom's birthday is today, and we have plans for Tuesday, when he's in school. But, I decided to call today and offer up breakfast, or coffee, lunch or birthday cake - whatever she wanted. She was enjoying her morning of answering the phone and talking to all the friends and relatives that were calling to wish her a happy birthday, so we agreed that she'd call me later with a time. She did. When I arrived at her house to take her out for dessert, there were two of my cousins and a cousin-in-law. They were just landing in town from Washington, and were quickly stopping on the way to see their mom (my mom's sister). The timing was perfect. One might even say, no accidents.
Twice in the last week, Wil has gone to bed after me. He's turned off all the lights, brushed his teeth, and put himself to bed.
On Thursday night he rode the rooter bus to a football game, one hour away. He didn't get back until 11:00 PM.
Long shifts helping at a Snack Shack. Rooter buses. Turning lights off. Putting himself to bed. Staying up until after 11:00 PM (second time this school year). All huge.
One day after school last week, we went to Baskin Robbins for a large milkshake. Seven scoops and 2 cups of milk later, we sat down outside, because the music was way too loud inside. The time before I'd actually spoken up and asked if they could turn it down a little, and they did, but this time, I opted for the path of least resistance.
The only other woman in the shop, left her inside table, and joined us outside. There weren't even tables, just chairs in a line. "It's SO loud in there. Do you mind if I join you? I didn't even realize there were chairs outside!"
What started as a surface conversation, "Do you live around here?" quickly turned to the fact that she has turned her house into a group home, and manages the care of two adults (34 and 53) with developmental disabilities. Both of these adults came to her through unusual circumstances, she wasn't even considering running a group home, but it evolved. She felt called to do the work after one friend could no longer care for her daughter, and from that she became an advocate. She, at mid-life, knowing nothing about disabilities or social services, has become an expert. She thought she'd enjoy being an empty nester, maybe travel or pursue a hobby. Instead, she found her true calling.
There are random notes left on car windshields, then there are kindnesses that make one a living saint.
While it's true that at each stage something gets easier, and something gets harder, it is also true that there are helpers all along the way. Some small, windshield-type helpers, and some that will turn their lives upside down just to do what needs to be done.