Small Acts Have a Big Impact*

I am often in awe of how a small act can often have a large impact.

Case in point: last week something happened that meant that world to me, and I want to record it for two reasons. First, I don’t want to forget it, or how I felt when it happened, and secondly, that I can be reminded of how it felt and pay it forward in the future.

This past week we got to spend two glorious days with M’s mom. She flew in for a quick visit, and we cherished the time we had with her. There are two “must-do’s” every time she visits: shop at our favourite country farm store (that makes a divine pecan pie), and go to “Grandma’s Restaurant” (The Mandarin). Say what you will about it, but M’s family has long loved this restaurant, and I can’t disagree. I’m a Mandarin junkie. Much to their dismay, there are no locations on the island, so we make a point of having a Mandarin feast at “Grandma’s Restaurant” each time she visits.

We don’t eat out often as a family. I find being in a restaurant with small children a bit stressful, even with help. It’s always unpredictable and it’s an environment I can’t control. It’s getting easier now that the kids are a little older, but I still worry a little that one will have a meltdown or make an enormous mess. Things that I know don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I am that person that doesn’t want to take away from someone else’s experience eating out. The truth? I’m often just afraid to take them out because of all the things that *could* happen. It often just feels easier to eat at home.

That being said, it’s a great adventure for the kids to go to the restaurant, and I find the Mandarin is pretty kid friendly. There are a ton of options (even for picky eaters) and the promise of the dessert buffet + cotton candy is usually enough to bribe them into good behaviour. P is still a wild card, but Netflix on my phone is a gift from Heaven and will often keep him quiet and in a chair for short periods of time.

So, as M’s mom was visiting, we scheduled in our regular Mandarin lunch visit. Eating there as a parent is a bit like a race, I often feel like I’m trying to inhale my plate quickly between the inevitable trips to the bathroom or back to the buffet with the kids. On this particular day, there were no meltdowns, no throwing of icecubes, no loud burping, no yelling and no crying. The kids stayed in their chairs, ate the vegetables I snuck on their plates without much complaining and acted like champs. We were just finishing up our meal when an elderly lady from a nearby table walked over and put her hand on my shoulder.

As I looked up into her kind face, she said,

“My dear, I just wanted to tell you how well-behaved your children have been. They are beautiful.”

With that, she gave my shoulder a squeeze and walked away. I sputtered out a thank you that felt wholly inadequate for the amount of gratitude I felt in that moment. It was such a small thing, but to me, a permanently tired mom to three young kids, it was everything. This mom job is hard work, and it felt so rewarding to feel noticed by someone else.

It completely made my day.

I am absolutely positive that she would not have made that lovely comment had seen my children out shopping with us at Walmart three hours later, but I’m just going to take it and run.

It was a brilliant reminder that while an act of kindness may feel small or unimportant to you, it could mean the world to someone else. In a world where it sometimes feels hard to measure up, hearing that you’re doing a good job might be an oh, so necessary bright spot in an otherwise impossible day. I’m going to try and spread that kindness around where I can–look for the good and instead of just noticing it, letting others know I’ve seen it. And tell them that they are doing an awesome job at whatever they are doing.

After all, couldn’t we all use a little more kindness and love in our lives?

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