a small kindness

letting a car inIt’s almost Columbus Day, the point in each new school year when I take stock, stand still, and really think about how it’s all going, because a long time ago I decided that it takes at least this long for the dust to settle, the honeymoons to end, and our family to hit a rhythm.

This year, Columbus Day looms large and is coming at me like a freight train.  I don’t know about you, but our household still feels chaotic. Work feels chaotic. Classrooms still feel new. There is no clearly discernable pattern in our days and weeks, and I feel a little wash of panic coming on. Granted, this fall, for us, holds more unstable factors than most. But reasonable or not, feeling overwhelmed, powerless, and panicked is a tough place to be.

In our book we have a list titled “Gifts for Yourself,” which is a collection of small ideas that remind parents of ways to care for themselves when so often their focus is on others. A little idea that has helped me these days, a small “gift to myself,” is to press the idea of the small kindness. Letting someone into traffic. Holding a door for the person who was a few steps further away. Smiling. Forcing the kind, generous, patient thing when I honestly just don’t feel like it.

I’ve got great hopes for things settling down in the next few days. I’ll be waiting for that pattern to emerge, priorities to surface, the static to fade. In the meantime I’ll be the one ready to let you into traffic.  -t

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