Tag Archives: motherhood

It’s That Time Again …

25 Jul

I look forward to this every year. Not just for the excitement and stories but because it reminds me of promises I made to myself in January …

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SHARK WEEK!

I love it. I totally geek out about the Hammerheads, Makos, and Great Whites. I honestly start contemplating life as a marine biologist and imagining the safest way to swim with sharks, you know the small ones.

We get jazzed up the entire week, mark it on the calendar and anticipate the close calls in tagging and tracking the sharks in order to collect data. We find out about their hunting patterns, migrating patterns, eating patterns, any and all kinds of patterns we search for them, just like the rest of America. We love to revisit stories from last year and can’t wait to compare them to this year. Megaladon was one of my favorites. This year they had Michael Phelps racing a shark! Sort of …

Discovery Channel had their X-Factor this week. There’s no other week like it for them. They go all out with the programming and I am one of the many, glued to her television set waiting to see what will happen next. We make shark pancakes, shark tostadas and shark cake.

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😉

We do it all in order to celebrate SHARK WEEK!

You see because that’s where they get me … the dangers of the shark. I’m waiting to see what will happen next, the excitement of the stories and the enthusiasm of these researchers is contagious. I want to know what’s next because nothing says living on the edge more than sharks.

So here I am mid-July, during one of the best weeks of television and I’m reminded that I should be living my best week regardless of the month. I should be emptying out the tank, remembering the Bucket List additions I wrote down at the beginning of the year and doing a self-check on the New Year’s Eve promises. I should be living every week like it’s Shark Week.

I like to make a big deal of the whole thing. I like to build up momentum and spread it out to my son and daughter. If there’s no build up, or excitement leading up to this week what’s the point? Shark Week is the week for all of that. My kids, they love the series of adventures and imagine themselves on excursions just like these, on being adventurous, on following your passions, and on celebrating the little victories, just the way researchers do when they tag a shark.

Shark Week brings it all.

So with all these positive energy, I remembered the good vibes from January 1st. I remember the everyday balloons scenario that allows for appreciating the little things. I remembered the promises I made to myself and so I checked, have I been on track?

For the most part … yes … yes I have, although there have been some serious wipe-outs. But I still persist. I wake up with purpose, tired, but with purpose. I wake up and think it’s Shark Week! Go all out. No excuses … and so I try.

Happy SHARK WEEK!

Buen Camino my friends!

 

The Year of Eight … A Year of Firsts And Freeze Frames

19 Jul

Cupcakes after midnight …

A buddy of mine left this awesome flair for words for me last week. Sounds accurate … on so many levels.

I find myself again … baking after midnight and preparing for the first day of being nine and reminiscing on the last days of being eight. I think about him knowing my Dad the first two years of his life only, but having good thoughts about the time spent together.

Eight was a good year, some ups and downs, but overall a good year. A year of firsts.

 

The Year of Eight we took to the ice. First time playing hockey, first time scoring goals, first time for a hat trick, first time a sport gets his complete undivided attention. First time we have to wake up at 5 a.m. to be at a sporting event at 6 a.m.

First time for Boy Scout Adventures in the Great Outdoors and earning badges. First time for Pinewood Derbies and being proud of the green roadster we constructed. First time for Rocket Academies, archery and BB guns. Rockets being the favorite as we successfully launched them into the sky.

First time for reading Roald Dahl and loving Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, first time for reading all his books. First time for exploring so many books that I lost count but he continued with science adventure books about kids being his favorites.

First time for learning tough lessons about friends in third grade, and how sometimes they’re not so friendly. First time for brushing off the disappointment and then learning to chug along.

First time I hear that he wants to slow time down because things are going too fast, so I teach him about daily gratitude and being present in the moment. First time he tries it and it works. The sweet spot of Jar of Awesome moments last longer and time slows for a moment.

First time for jumping off the diving board at the swimming pool, took the swim test and passed the first time. Best cannonball ever. First time we won our cardboard boat race, it was the Dalmatian Monster Mutt that took us to victory. First time for Sandbox List Adventures to be crossed off, like being an America Ninja Warrior for the day, trying to climb that warped wall and tackle the obstacles. The first year for The Jar of Awesome …

The Year of Eight was a great year of firsts for my kid. I’m grateful I get the chance to write that letter for him and remember these things. I try to catch them in this time capsule because even though I slow things down, slow is too fast for these moments. Freeze frame seems more appropriate.

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But it just wasn’t a year of firsts there were many seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths … I remember all the times he got lost in the world of Legos, creating cities, battles, movies, and Star Wars scenes. I remember all the mini-figures he mixed and matched to create new characters in stories. I remember him wanting to play chess and always ready to setup the Star Wars chess set. He always wanted to be the good guys. I remember his love of chocolate, all kinds of chocolate, Kit Kats, Snickers and M&Ms being some of his favorites, although he also likes Doritos and discovered the wonders of Extra Spearmint Gum. I remember him discovering Minecraft, Minion Rush, Star Wars Commnader and Fruit Ninja on the iPad. I remember him waking up before 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings just to watch cartoons, The Jungle Bunch, Lego Star Wars Freemaker Adventures, Pokemon, Wild Kratts, Star War Rebels, SpongeBob, and The Lion Guard just to name a few. I remember how he always looked forward to Shark Week every year, marking the calendar and having a countdown of his own. Great White Shark is his favorite. I remember how he still wants to be a firefighter when he grows up.

I remember dancing to his feel-good songs and him cutting loose, every time. He feeeeeeels the music and he is the best Solid-Gold-Soul-Train-dancer in the house. Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal and Bruno Mars are some of his favorites. Although 80s always rule in the house. 80s and The Beatles. He smiles as I watch him dance and it’s priceless. I loved the Year of Eight dance moves.

I remembered all that tonight and more …

So tonight I hugged my eight-year old one last time before going to bed, one last time before he turned nine tomorrow morning. I hugged him extra tight, and took an extra breath as he was squished between my arms. He smelled like Dove soap. I held him tighter. I was trying to freeze-frame it. I asked him how his last day as an eight-year old turned out to be and he said it was awesome …

 

I rode my bike in the morning. Played some Legos. And then went to the Ninja Gym and did some America Ninja Warrior stuff, I got to the fourth wobbly cube, the green one. And then we had ice cream for dinner. It was awesome. Tomorrow I’ll be nine. I think it’s gonna be great …

 

The Year of Eight was good and now The Year of Nine begins. It begins with me baking, not cupcakes this time, but cake … cake after midnight. Chocolate, of course.

 

 

 

 

The Night Before Six …

13 Jul

It didn’t occur to me that the Birthday Eves were important to kids too. I just thought only adults took stock and thought about the night before turning 40. I realized it’s a moment to pause for kids too. I wished I would have thought about it sooner, so I could have done this earlier for my kids and for my son, so that I could look back and remember all the times that slip into forgotten memories unless you have a picture of it. But I was grateful to have remembered and started today.

So I wrote her a letter …

 

You didn’t even need me to catch you this time.

You found the courage to jump off the edge and perform your best cannonball yet. And it was only your second attempt. You smiled. You finally went on the blue slide … six times you raced me. Six times I won but you didn’t care, because that wasn’t the point of the blue slide.

We were there three-and-a-half hours.

You ate a strawberry-orange-fruity Popsicle and it claimed your front tooth, the one that wiggled all morning long, the one you wouldn’t let me touch. The pool-side Popsicle made the arrival of the tooth fairy possible.

You won a book, a dinosaur book, on the last day of the summer reading book club over at the library, and you high-fived me.

The hotel that lost your soft, plush brown stuffed-dog that you’ve had since you were one-year-old, the hotel that claimed it had no idea how it disappeared from your bed, sent a FedEx package to our door. Brownie appeared and was back in bed with you tonight.

But before you went to sleep we talked about it being your last day as a five-year old and how that felt, what you expected six would be like, what your best memories of being five were … you were grateful for that day. You cried a little, though, you were worried about being six. Your brother told you that being six was gonna be great and that you’d probably be tall enough to ride some roller-coasters now, play on the big playground at school, and read some good books.

Being six would be easy for you.

We had a family hug for a couple of minutes and that seemed to do the trick. You were still worried but you found your courage.

As you lay in my arms I remembered this was the year you tried out for softball and you liked playing first and third base the most. Your favorite part was batting. It was your first year of kindergarten and you met your buddy Emma. Your favorite shows were PAW Patrol, PJ Masks, Doc McStuffins, Sesame Street, and America Ninja Warrior. Your favorite animals were elephants, hippos and dinosaurs. You really liked reading Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems, The Fred and Ted Series by P.D. Eastman, The Skippyjon Jones Series … all of them, Dr. Seuss, The Hungry Caterpillar, and Good Night, Goodnight Construction Site. Your favorite movies were The Ice Age Series, Despicable Me and Moana. You didn’t like getting out of bed, you were the give-me-five-more-minutes-mom kind of morning person, but you did enjoy you feel-good songs to wake you up. You enjoyed Footloose, Our House In The Middle of the Street, Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Starting Something, and U2’s Songs of Innocence — the entire CD.

You liked art and drawing, you liked playing Legos and America Ninja Warrior with your brother, you like me chasing you, giving you piggy back rides, splashing in the kiddie pool, watching you ride your bike, and you really like doing The Wave at baseball games.

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It was a great day to be five-years old. The last day you would be five and it had many Jar of Awesome Moments. You have a Pippi-Longstocking-Amelia-Bedelia-Goonies-Moana adventurous spirit. I’m hoping to remember it all.

I’ll especially remember me making your birthday cupcakes. You requested chocolate cupcakes instead of a cake this year, chocolate with chocolate with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles.

I tried a new recipe and it was an epic fail. Disaster all over the kitchen and cupcakes tasted and looked nothing like cupcakes at 11:23 p.m. They were just gross. I have no idea what happened, but I imagine it had something to do with my math and my ounces/grams to cups/tablespoon conversion.

So, what could I do but laugh and start again. Finished the cupcakes after midnight and then started on the frosting … Birthday cupcakes will be great tomorrow.

Last day of being five definitely rocked it.

 

 

Simple Moments and Evacuating The Premises … Immediately

7 Jul

Feeling miserable isn’t one of the things I enjoy talking about, you just wake up and that ugh feeling is staring at you. You try to get your inner Wonder Woman vibe on and you feel it somewhere, you know you’ve got it, it’s just hitting the snooze button I guess.

I mean I was feeling good with that 4th of July fireworks extravaganza and ball game, where my favorite pitcher on Earth rocked it and the fireworks just wowed the kids and myself.  You were toe-tapping to R-O-C-K in the USA by Cougar-Mellencamp and just feeling the vibe with Ray Charles singing that America the Beautiful.

That whole experience made for an awesome holiday, so I couldn’t understand why I woke up flat and just feeling the blah … of the day. That bad mood voodoo took over and funkified my whole outlook. And you know it’s you, when nobody does anything and everything seems to irritate you, like the kind of irritated you get when you’re hangry. 

I had to check myself.

I needed to evacuate the premises immediately.

So I grabbed the Coppertone 1005 SPF and the swimsuits and headed for the pool. The beach was too far and the freeway would have made the irritability worse, so I needed a fast fix and the pool seemed to work it’s magic. Nothing like racing your kids on the blue and red water slides to help bring your inner Wonder Woman mojo out.

The fact that we were not sweating out the 104-degree heat at home brought a smile to my face. I sat on the edge of the pool with my legs feeling the light resistance of the cool water and I looked up. I felt the warmth of smile as I watched my kids enjoy the Willly Wonka-like splish-splash structure. And it was good. A calm feel-good vibe sat with me, and I enjoyed the simplicity of the moment. I forgot about the morning moodiness and that’s always a good thing to put in your rear view mirror. If I had that gratitude journal right there, I’d mark that moment as the highlight of the day, bottle it up for the next time.

It wasn’t anything fancy, rich, or epic. It was just old-school and simple, like the times in the old neighborhood when we’d splash around Marisolita’s giant plastic pool from K-mart. Everyone from Apartment 2 all the way to Apartment 9 would be out there swimming around for hours. And when it was time to go because our fingers and toes pruned up, we’d ask for five more minutes. Just five more. Then we’d empty out all the water on the stairs to create our own make-shift Raging Waters slide adventures.

Simple stuff, but pretty awesome when you’re in the moment. So I’m glad I caught it.

Evacuating the premises appeared to be good idea … that and cannonballs.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

The Process And The Hanna Barbera Journey

24 May

It took me back to Saturday morning cartoons. Just like our annual cardboard boat race, this little adventure took me back to the 80s where I dreamed of being one of the Hanna Barbera cartoons and building my own hot rod to race to the finish line.

We were pretty jazzed up to learn that my son’s Boy Scout pack would be hosting the annual Pinewood Derby. We marked the calendar, bought our kit and the kids laid out their Crayola Crayons Blueprint, LEGO drivers included of course.

We made visits to the Do-It-Yourself Center and Michael’s Craft Store to buy all the goods for this epic project. Every day leading up to the big race we worked on the cars … sanding them, cleaning them, painting them multiple times, adding decals and then our final touches. I made sure not to get too crazy though, I didn’t want to turn into Momzilla and take over the project. I wanted to make sure my kids did most of the work.

But you know, the day of the actual race itself didn’t live up to the hype I imagined in my Hanna Barbara mind. After waiting for all the heats and divisions to run through their rounds the enthusiasm dwindled off.

Perhaps because it was a three-lane course instead of five-lanes, maybe there were so many divisions that it became just a repetitive exercise and not a Pinewood Derby Showdown, or maybe it was the return of the stink-eye uptight assistant den leader from region pack meetings, his presence fuels voluntary and involuntary eye-rolls from the masses.

Whatever that wonky feeling was it lingered for a bit. I mean when it was my kids’ turn I was super excited and happy and enjoyed their rounds leading up the final division race. I was happy that my son had tied for fifth place in our rookie year of this event.

But I wasn’t really jazzed up about the other participants. I didn’t really have a vested interest. There seemed to be a pattern evolving, in regards to the type of designs winning each race. I mean once I saw a couple of their races the magic was lost  … until the Outlaw Division started.

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There it was … a rules-out-the-window race, where creativity, imagination, and design were combined. It was about the fastest car but also about inventiveness, the personality of each car and then how it would perform. Those races seemed to be a little more exciting. I enjoyed my daughter coming in first place in the outlaw class and seeing her smile as her car crossed the finish line first. But through this entire experience, from blueprints to paint jobs, I was reminded of a great lesson.

It’s all about the process.

Enjoying the anticipation of it all, sharing our excitement of what was to come, talking, hanging out while we sanded and painted, and most of importantly remembering not to freak out if the paint job wasn’t spot on. They might not remember what place they finished that day, but they will remember that we built it as a family. They’ll remember how that felt. So, for future projects, I’ve got to remember that.

Process … It’s all about the process in the Hannah Barbara journey, or with anything really.

Mother’s Day Still Around With Purple Crayons and Yoda Kites

19 May

It wasn’t a day off, but it was a day of appreciation.

I know Mother’s Day has come and gone and many are now forgetting that it had just taken place. The one day a year you’re supposed to wine and dine and show your mom all the love you got … and then the next day she’s off to wash the dishes again.

But during that quick transition from pedestal to laundry folder, a couple moments stayed with me the whole week. I’m still thinking about them today. I woke up thinking about them and they made me smile. You see during the Mother’s Day escape of the dishes adventure, we decided to go to the beach. It’s my haven. I hear the waves and I feel at peace. It usually shakes off any bad vibes that followed me during the week.

And even though I packed the lunches, filled the gas tank, lugged all the beach toys and dug the hole in the sand, I sat in my tan-colored Tommy Bahama chair, with my toes in the sand watching my daughter race the waves. It was something about that laughter of narrowly escaping the salty waves that captured my attention. She was in the zone. She was happy in the moment, not thinking of anything else, but the beach and her. And it made me smile.

I felt lost in that moment, so much so that I forgot to take a picture. I was just watching her and right then and there it felt good to be her mom. I mean most of the time on Mother’s Day you just want a massage and a nice dinner. You sure don’t want to be dragging a bunch of plastic toys from Target across those sandy hills. You want a day away from kids … a day of peace and quiet.

But for some reason I found the quiet of peace and the love of motherhood as she ran along the shore. She made my heart expand. I thought of the gift bag she made me in class and I felt like I deserved every purple crayon she used.

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And then the feeling continued when I turned to check on my son … there he was taking out his Star Wars Yoda kite from the wagon. I thought ah man I’m gonna have to break this trance of awesomeness and help put this kite together and run along a couple times until the kite takes flight.

But no.

He managed to do it by himself. Determined.

He put it together and then let out the line. He ran a few steps and launched Yoda into the sky … there he was flying with The Force, my young Jedi. He sat on the sand, making a plan, figuring out the physics of flight I imagine. Staring at the sky, maybe in appreciation of his triumph.

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I snapped a picture. He had continued what his sister had started. He got lost in the moment, fully engaged in Yoda’s flight and happy that he had done it himself. Happy in the moment, not thinking of the next, just happy right now.

He turned to look … to see if I was watching. He smiled, as I was, gave me a thumbs up and then turned around to keep flying.

Usually Mother’s Day comes and goes, and it’s back to the grind on Monday. But I found the quiet of peace on the beach that day and it’s still with me.  Definitely a good Mother’s Day gift.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

America Ninja Warriors On The Playground

17 Sep

Feeling inspired by all the American Ninja Warrior madness, I decided to take my kids out for Worldwide Day of Play! Not that the Guats needed an official excuse to go outdoors, but having a Day of Play celebrated across all Nickelodeon Channels … well that just had Playground America Ninja Warrior written all over it.

I can’t tell you how inspired and addicted my kids are to that show. I feel grateful that they get pumped up after watching stuff like the Olympics, Spartan Races and America Ninja Warrior. As they watch, they’re leaping, running, climbing, and stretching across their kid-made pillow infused obstacle course in the living room. I like that they feel like they can come out in their own Gatordae commercial and that they push each other through these imaginary obstacles and time limits.

I used to wonder what kind of kids I would have when they were still in diapers. Whether they would be avid sports fans and enjoy the Saturday college football rituals, volleyball at the beach, 5K mini runs, Olympic TV watching marathons, or catching a game at the stadium. I was hoping they would be, but you never know.

So when they cheered on athletes during the Olympics that made me smile, when they root for the Kings on the ice it feels good, when they  raise their arms in the air and scream as our team scores a touchdown it warms my heart, but when they created their own obstacle racing adventures on the playground and crowned themselves champions because they  conquered Mount Midoriyama I was high-fiving them all day. When they fell off the course and splashed in the imaginary pool, I enjoyed hearing their post interview, explaining what they think went wrong and how they were going “to try harder next year”. However I will say that the monkey bars still leave me with tiny calluses … My badges of honor.

So … regardless of whether we had an invitation, The Guats celebrated Worldwide Day of Play the America Ninja Warrior way. Hope you guys got out too.

 

 

I Earned A Couple More … But That’s O.K. They’re worth it

10 Jun

Some people say that they sneak up on you, that you have no idea where they came from.

Dude, so not true on my account.

I have knowledge of all there whereabouts. I knew exactly when they showed up and why. I wasn’t surprised. Weirded out, maybe. Worried a little? Yeah, maybe at first. But as more started trickling in I thought … dude it’s becoming an epidemic. I might need to purchase a bottle Nice N’ Easy.

But no.

I’m sticking to the salt and pepper look of my long curls.

I earned one this week. A couple actually. Sadness, happiness, and concern all at once.

I had a parent moment as my youngest graduated preschool this past week. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. I mean I knew it was important, but didn’t think it would give me pause. I saw all the Facebook posts from people about their kids moving up a grade or graduating and I thought … hmph that’s cool. But nothing registered.

Then as I saw my own, walking down the aisle in her purple cap and gown, it hit me. She’s going to be walking down that aisle at age 18 soon. She’s going to be heading off to college before I know it, and then life.

I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want it going fast. Did it go fast?

People say it goes by fast, but so far I’m feeling every day. Thus the gray hairs. I notice them. It happened when my son graduated as well. I got a little parent-y.  I thought it was a one-time thing, but nope. It hit me again. And I needed a moment. Some time to bottle it up in a mason jar and close that lid tight.

I thought about how far she’s come, how she curls the J in her name, how she scales that rock climbing wall with no problem now, how she brings something to show-and-tell and says that’s it’s fragile, how she has friends and talks about her adventures, how she shares or high-fives her friends to make for an awesome moment, how she paints more than just snakes now, there are houses and trees and rainbows and sun, and me in those pictures, how she runs faster now and is able to reach the pedals on the mini bikes.

I look at how far she’s come and I see the gray hairs on my head and I know that so far … so far I’ve done good job. I earned a couple more, but they’re worth it.

 

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Lost and Found

28 May

Sometimes you give it 100% and feel like you failed anyway. It’s the Parenthood mantra.

People don’t like to admit their failures. I don’t know, they want to feel like they can be on the cover of Parents Magazine, looking like the weather chick on your local news with three kids in matching outfits, harvesting their organic produce and skipping in their garden. They want people to see them that way.

But it’s all good. I’m not one them. I’m a Failure Survivor. The gray hairs on my head are the scars that prove it. Parenthood is both a joy and a battle.

But most of the time at the end of the day you’re so exhausted that you forget about some of the joys that warmed your heart throughout the day. You forget about the small victories that took place during the day because the failures tend to overshadow such things, which is why practicing gratitude is so important when you’re a parent. Gratitude and finding the funny, those have been my compasses throughout these parenting years.

They help find things that get lost.

Whether it’s in the moment, or at night when it’s just you, Netflix and a cup of tea your compasses help you remember.

Moments of gratitude. They help when chocolate is gone.

 

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Celebrating at the finish line.

 

Like today … I remembered about the front-door parking at the stadium, the smiles of making it to the starting line for the first wave of the race, the laughter and dancing of the finish line party, and the hugs of knowing it was a good Parenthood day.

 

 

 

40 at 40 Accidentally On Purpose Random Acts of Kindness … No. 29 Small Things

19 Dec

Everyone needs a moment of recovery …  everyone, especially the mother of a teenager. A teenage girl that is.

Yeah.

They’re a special bunch, and you see I wasn’t even looking for an opportunity to spread some Christmas cheer, but when a teenager and her diva sass make an appearance the opportunity sort of presents itself.

There I was at the 99 Cent Store buying some festive glitter action for the holiday season. When I began placing my items on the conveyor belt, I saw her walking across the store and stand next to the lady behind me.

Ugh.

The exasperated sigh.

I turned to smile at the lady who had just given me a compliment on one of Christmas centerpieces I was purchasing. She stood there with a giant sky blue CareBear and fuzzy socks.

Sigh. Again.

“Hello? What are you doing! What’s wrong with you? Didn’t you see me over there?” the teenager said waving her arms. “I was next! I was next! Why don’t you ever answer when I call you? I was calling you. Why don’t you ever answer? I was next and here you are standing in line doing nothing. What’s a matter with you?”

The mom didn’t even blink. She held her tongue as the rant continued.

“Ugh! Whatever.” The teenager finally said “Forget this. I’m gonna go wait in the car!”

I stood there while everyone looked on wide-eyed and surprised. I smiled at her and nodded. She looked back at me and grinned. I felt for her, I knew what it was like to be on that end of the teenager wrath as I had met a few of them during my teaching tenure in middle schools and high schools.

I was aware of this emotional and dramatic mood swing beast. I didn’t stand there in judgement. I had a 4-year-old daughter that would eventually be a teenager as well. I knew the beast may be in my future.

So as she stood there having her moment, trying to breathe and just survive the holiday season at a busy store the clerk rang up her purchases.

 

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🙂

 

I dug inside my pocket.

“I got that for you,” I said as she was still a little zoned out.

I paid the clerk for her items and finished bagging mine. After a minute she seemed to realize what had just happened.

“No,no, no. You can’t do that. I got it, I got it.” She said.

“No,” I said. “Looks like you had a tough moment waiting in line, you need a little good. You need a good story today. Merry Christmas.”

As I walked away, she tried catching up in order to give me some money, but I assured her that everything was good. She smiled and thanked me after I turned down her money for the fourth time.

She was a having a moment, a mom moment, and I knew what those were like and how they felt. I knew the look of defeat, it’s hit me plenty of times in private and in public. And I also knew she needed a little kindness and a little grace. I knew that something small could help turn things around. So I decided to be that something small.

It felt good to surprise her, to see my small act of kindness touch her heart. I might not have changed her life, but I hoped I had changed her story that day. Sometimes all it takes is something small.

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