“Don’t be yourself — be someone a little nicer.”
Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook
I really want this blog to be an uplifting, empowering place where we can all speak freely about living and sharing kindness. But more then anything else – I want it to be a place of truth. However, truth is not always pretty and Pollyanna. Truth can be hard, raw and even a bit painful – but I believe that in truth there is beauty.
So far, my journey has been focused on doing kind acts for others – mostly random strangers. There is something really gratifying about helping a stranger. In one sense it’s an ego boost (look at how kind I am!) and in another sense it’s a heart warmer (they really needed me – I did good today!) but overall it’s about making an immediate, tangible impact.
However, I’ve come to realize that I don’t put anywhere near the effort into being kind to my loved ones that I put into being kind to strangers. It’s not that I don’t think my family deserves my kindness – quite the contrary – but more like they don’t NEED it the way others do. They are my family, know they have my love and that should be enough. Except, well, it isn’t.
Case in point. A few days ago the kids and I were doing our summer thing – hanging at the pool. We swam, we ate, we chilled – it was a good day. Except I got a bit too much sun. And by the time 4pm rolled around I was rockin’ the worlds WORST headache. One of those brain thumpers that sits right in the middle of your forehead and is damn relentless. So I popped a Tylenol or two, had some extra water and got on with it. Except the pain just DID NOT go away and we still needed to run some errands. We hit Target then decided to grab dinner at Panda Express. My head still hurt and I could tell I was running low on patience. The entire way over to PE the kids just bickered. We get to the restaurant and there is a line – so I settle them into the table next to me . They would NOT stop fighting. They pushed, they argued, and despite my glares kept it up. I even did the “Mom Whisper” – telling them that if they DID NOT stop fighting we would leave the restaurant. They called my bluff. At that exact moment I turned to see Harlyn punch Hayden square in the stomach. IN THE RESTAURANT! In front of the put together, extremely well behaved Mom/Daughter duo behind me and the crabby Grandpa dude that had already been shaking his head and giving me looks about my misbehaving hellions.
That was it. My head pounding, I grabbed both my kids and escorted them by their little arms right out of the restaurant. On the way – things were said. Unkind things. About disappointment. Lack of dinner. Inability to appreciate everything they had. And general disrespect for me as their mother. I was on a roll and nothing was going to stop me. When we finally got home I promptly walked down to my bedroom, shut the door and stayed there until hubs came home an hour or so later.
So, why am I telling you this? Why highlight a pretty terrible parenting moment that I feel kinda awful about? After I finally had a chance to settle down, and my headache subsided, I felt really bad. I KNEW in that moment that my kids weren’t benefiting from this kindness experience – because I would NEVER say those things or act that way to a stranger! Strangers get the Kim that is “just a little bit nicer” then my true self. And my kiddos – they get the Kim that is “just a little bit meaner” – how sad is that?
The next morning – I sat both the kids down and told them I was sorry. That they were NOT disappointments and were, in fact, my greatest source of pride. That I was wrong for acting the way I did. And that I would try to be a better Mom going forward but I am just a person and sometimes make mistakes. It’s really important that my kids understand adults are just people – and aren’t perfect and occasionally do and say the wrong things – but there is always a chance to apologize and try to make it right.
It was a great eye opening experience for me and one of the first big lessons I’ve learned so far. I can only hope as the year progresses I become more aware of myself, my actions and the affect on everyone around me – and as a result – work and strive towards being a much nicer version of myself. My family deserves it – and I do too.