However, late into my pregnancy, I have found renewed faith in humanity's ability to be kind. Throughout this pregancy I have instead experienced compassion and gentleness and patience, often from complete strangers. It gives me hope for the world my children will grow up in. It helps me believe that kindness is still a general value in America.
Crossing the street as a pregnant lady with two kids in tow seems to bring out the compassion in drivers who previously would have sped by. People offer their spot in the grocery store line to me, insisting that I go ahead. Friends have randomly dropped off dinner, or picked up my house, or watched my children. And with another fast labor likely looming ahead, I have a long list of both good friends and casual acquaintances who have offered to drop anything at any time of day to help me get to the hospital from our somewhat remote location. It is refreshing. It is encouraging.
A more specific example happened in the grocery store recently. The grocery store sees mothers with their children on all kinds of days - good ones, bad ones, stressful run in and run out days. It is the one store we can't avoid just because we are having a bad day. On this particular bad day Sommer started with the most horrid screechy screaming stereotypical of a spoiled 2-year-old having a tantrum - usually someone else's child's tantrum. In this case, unfortunately, it was not someone else's child. It was my extremely stubborn and hungry child who refused to snack on grocery store goods or sit in the cart. We were in the process of abandoning a full cart of food (something I have only had to do one other time in all my 5 years of motherhood) when one of the grocery clerks took compassion on us and offered my kids some sweets and treats they did not deserve. These were goodies that they don't hand out to every child who comes through the store. It took all my self-control not to start crying on this woman's shoulder simply because someone showed me kindness instead of judgement. God bless the people who work at Trader Joe's. We managed to make it out of the store with our food.
This week, while out and about shopping for some birthday presents, Sommer was playing with a display of small stuffed animals. An elderly lady, who I guessed to be in her 80s, insisted on buying her one of fuzzy white kittens. I tried to refuse, partially because it was unnecessary, partially because the last thing we need is another stuffed animal in the house, and partially because I don't need Sommer thinking that she gets to takes every toy she likes home with her. But something about this lady's demeanor told me that allowing her to purchase the kitten would be a blessing to the both of us. It was something she wanted to do for us that came from a genuine place of kindness in her heart. Her sweetness and her interest in doing something kind for no apparent reason is what encouraged me. (Aside: this act of kindness is probably unrelated to my pregnancy. It is far more likely a result of Sommer's disarming ability to charm complete strangers. Either way, we were blessed.)
I have also had plenty of awkward belly rubs from strangers, and been the brunt of many tactless comments about how my hands are going to be so full soon, and I have people everywhere who want to make conversation with me about my pregnancy and my kids and their own experiences, which is often poorly timed because I am trying to make it out of a store in a timely manner before my children spiral out of control.
But through it all, I have a great sense that these strangers do these things, tactless or not, because of a genuine interest in my life. Something about seeing us roaming around triggers a desire to reach out, and to be kind. I admit it could be pity, but I believe it is more like a glimmer of unselfishness that surfaces. That these people have kindness pent up in their heart and they are looking for a way to express it.
I share all of this because I have been deeply blessed by little things throughout this pregnancy. And I am asking myself, Why does it take a pregnant woman with kids to bring out the kindness in strangers?
Perhaps if we all just made it a priority to treat others as if they were in some sort of delicate state, offering help just because, exercising great patience for no apparent reason... perhaps many more people would experience the kindness of strangers. If we took great interest in their lives then the world would indeed become a better place. Just a thought....
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you."