There have been several days/nights recently where it has been the All Mama All the Time show again at our house. Ben has been involved with some meetings/groups at school that have had him hopping after school and in the evenings, so it has been up to me to run the kids all day, evening, and night on more than one occasion. Plenty of mamas do this all the time or for far longer stints, and for that, I give them great credit. For me, some days, doing that is a stretch; either my patience or energy runs low and I snap. At least, that is certainly how it was several months ago when we were in the dark place of no sleep.
Currently we’re sleeping pretty well (amazingly well by our own standards, actually), minus the fact that RL just refused to take an afternoon nap today (what the what?). Perhaps that is why I’ve been able to handle these All Day All Me stints with more grace and less yelling. Perhaps the few small changes I’ve made to my mindset are beginning to take hold. I don’t know. But I do know I’ve been able to slow down a bit more and experience my time with my kids instead of just survive it, and for that, I am most grateful.
All that being said, I was happy to sneak away from the house for 40 minutes yesterday afternoon while Ben was between meetings. He had one break in the day and I gladly took his availability to stay with the kids to take a break for myself. Well, sort of for myself. I used that time to run to the grocery store to get things for our family. Does that count as me time? I think it does because I got to be in public in broad daylight without children which is obviously rare.
After grabbing my list and hopping in the car, I buzzed up to Walmart. On my way, though, I noticed a couple with their dog(s?) at the corner of the access road that leads to the store. We don’t have many homeless people that I see all that often in Hastings (although I know they exist), but this is one spot where, every-so-often, you’ll find someone with a sign asking for food or work or whatever.
Although I always take note of the person (or people), I have never done anything to help them. We’re not in the habit of carrying cash (even though we love Dave Ramsey) and it seems that I always forget to pick up any extras when I’m in Walmart, so it never fails that when I drive by them on my way home, I have nothing to offer by means of help. Yesterday, thanks to the lack of distraction in the form of my two small cuties, I decided I would definitely do something for this couple.
Several weeks ago, I found an idea on Pinterest called Blessings Bags; essentially they were Ziploc bags filled with granola bars, toiletries, and other small items that could be made in bulk and then handed out as needed when out and about. I stuck it under my ideas for Wee Ones, thinking it was something we could do to teach our kids about compassion for others, plus they could also work as donations to our local shelter since, like I said, we don’t often run across folks that are obviously homeless. Yesterday, though, I decided I would skip the Ziploc and just round up a few items to put together in a sack from the store that I could hand out the window on my return trip.
My trip through the store was a bit rushed. I didn’t have much time since Ben had another meeting to get to, plus I kept thinking, what if they leave?, but I did manage to grab a few extra items along with all those on my grocery list. I got protein bars, toothbrush/floss/toothpaste travel kits, hand sanitizer, and even a bag of treats for the dog(s?). I knew that last one was not essential, but I wanted them to know that I really saw them (even if today I can’t remember if it was one or two dogs); just because people are struggling doesn’t meant they don’t deserve the love of an animal in their lives.
I felt compelled to do something, even a small something, because I know I have been so blessed. Any sort of blessing I can share with another, in a bag, or through an act of kindness, or a smile or whatever, is something that allows me to give back to the world in thanks for what I have received. Ben and I have to make careful choices with our money in order for me to be able to stay home with our kids. One choice we’ve always made, though, is a giving column in our budget that allows us to give to a church or a social group or school fundraisers or public programs or anyone that just flat out needs it. It is proportiante to our income, so we can’t always give as much as we’d like, but we are always happy to give. In turn, I was happy to know that without even running it by him, my husband would fully support the small donation that I made to that couple yesterday afternoon. In total it probably added up to about $15.00 worth of goods, so nothing much in the grand scheme of things, but hopefully it was something they could find sustaining, helpful, or at least thoughtful.
Because I tend to get a little worked up about things (OK, life in general), I was practically shaking when I pulled up to the corner. At first I think they were expecting me, like all the other cars, to just keep rolling past them. Instead, I rolled down my window and leaned forward so the man could see my face. I lifted the bag up from the front seat as he came over to collect it and told him that I hoped he had a nice day. Without even knowing what was in the bag, his face lit up and he thanked me, saying, “Oh, wow. Wow. Thank you. You have a good day, too.”
Window up. Stop sign observed. Car rolling forward. That was it. That and the tears I felt welling up in my eyes because, again, I know how very blessed I am in this life.
So here’s to loving well, living fully, and making a difference, even when it it is small. I can’t wait to do this again, and hopefully the kids will be with me next time; I think that we teach so much by example, and I’m excited for the opportunity to teach Harrison (and his baby sis) about reaching out to others.