Our neighbor is a college professor in early childhood education. We don’t know her well, but all signs point to her being a lovely individual. She lives in the second floor apartment of the house next door to us, and her office windows open onto our yard.
When Jack was a toddler, she made a point, on more than one occasion, of stopping to talk to us for a moment over the fence. “I love to hear the two of you play,” she would say. “You always have the nicest conversations.”
Her words touched me. Jack was very verbal from an early age, and I loved my chats with him over the sandbox or flowerbed about nature, trucks, or animals. Both my husband and I had infinite patience for Jack’s endless curiosity and chatter.
Flash forward four years.
We had Emily and in our constant state of emotional and physical exhaustion, things started to disintegrate at home. Jack became a big brother after ruling our roost for four years by himself, and he did not like it one bit.
Our backyard banter turned into backyard battle as Jack bucked every rule and I balanced a baby on my hip.
I am sure this quiet, scholarly neighbor heard some conversations and confrontations quite different than the lovely idyll of Jack’s solo days. I’m sure she heard me struggle with him, and him rage at me not only in our backyard, but also from our home, especially in the warmer months when our windows were all open.
There were times (oh there were times!) when I raced frantically though the house to close all the windows while Jack had one of his tantrums, praying no one would think I was hurting him and call the cops on me.
Our neighbor lady caught us at the bus stop one morning, as we waited for Jack’s big, yellow chariot to swoop him up. She asked him where he was going to school and who his teacher was, etc. She mentioned she had always loved hearing him play in the yard.
I scoffed awkwardly at this. “Well, ” I said, “I’m sure you hear many interesting things.”
She looked me straight in the eye and smiled at me.
“Jack just has a really good sense of himself,” she said.
Huh. Well that was one way to look at my son’s challenging demeanor.
I think of this brief exchange once in a while, and it strikes me as a very great kindness this neighbor, barely more than an acquaintance, offered me that morning. She could have been really snarky about our noise interrupting her studies, or dug out some child development fact to imply we were doing it all wrong. But she didn’t.
Instead, she offered me nine of the kindest words ever to meet my mother heart.
What is something kind someone has done for you as a mom when you least expected it? Have you ever done/said anything to show kindness to another mom you saw struggling?