I was moved to tears today by a lady at the shops.
My children love the games shop at our local shopping center as it has a train set permanently set up down the back. The children begged me for a small play there and I acquiesced on the condition that they come as soon as I ask them too. They promised they would.
Fast-forward a few minutes…
My son came.
My daughter…did not.
I gave her the choice to come now of her own accord or I would pick her up and put her in the pram. She believed staring at me and refusing to obey would work. So, amidst her loud protests I followed through, picked her up and put her in the pram.
Hanging my head and feeling defeated again by the struggles my daughter provides quite regularly in our relationship, I turned to walk out of the shop and another mother stopped me.
“Excuse me,” she said (my heart sank, people often like to offer their tips in these scenarios), “I’d like to congratulate you on your excellent parenting”. Tears filled my eyes. “I see so many parents making empty threats to children all the time and I just wanted to affirm you on how consistent I’ve just watched you be with your children these last few minutes. You are raising children who will be exceptional adults.”
I had a few tears. Very few people stop to tell full time mothers of the importance of their work. We have no colleagues to be in a ‘supportive team environment’ and there are days that seem like all I have done does not amount to much.
“I have six children” she continued “and I can tell you from experience that what you are doing is so important. And you’re doing it well.”
I was almost speechless. In my moment of frustration and embarrassment, someone reached out and offered me words of hope. Encouragement. Motivation. Sincere praise.
I was officially floating on air.
This confirmed what I have been thinking about the past few days.
What would happen if in our life, our workplace, our schools and our homes, our first instinct was to encourage.
Instead of berating my son for the mess he has left to clean up, could I praise the huge effort he has already made?
Instead of criticising my child’s teacher for something they ‘missed seeing’ today, could I encourage them that taking care of 25 children every day is a physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting task and slip a coffee on their desk, first thing in the morning?
Instead of snapping at the checkout lady that I’ve had to wait too long, could I ask her how much longer she has left to go on her shift and if she’ll be able to put her feet up at home?
Let me assure you that after that lady affirmed me today, I felt stronger, happier, more confident in my role as a mum and better equipped to handle the rest of my day. (Oh and for the record, what happened in the next store was a doozy but that story is for another time!!) I felt that I could approach the challenging tasks that came at me head on and I felt as worthwhile as I know I am.
If you had the power to make even just one person feel this way every day…would you?