If you know me in my personal life or have been around here for a minute, you know that I love Aldi. I make no bones about it, I’m a huge fan of grocery shopping there and have been doing it for years. (I’m feeling a whole blog post about Aldi and some of my favorite products from there in the very near future….)
Anyways, on a rainy Sunday morning not long ago I found myself doing my weekly grocery store run, solo, while my husband was at home with the girls. Something about me that day I must have had that haggard worn-out mom-look. Maybe it was the characteristic dirty hair piled on top my head, the slightly sleepy look while clenching a McDonald’s coffee cup, the diaper bag I was sporting as a purse, or perhaps it was the classic black yoga pants outside of a yoga studio. Who knows? It’s hard to say really.
Just as I was finishing loading my groceries into the back of my car, I noticed an older couple making their way through the rain towards me. I was parked far enough away from the store that it meant they were actually walking in the opposite direction of the dry, warm store, but instead venturing further into the rain, without an umbrella.
“Can we take your shopping cart* for you?” the women called out as she approached me. “You look like you might have a couple babies with you.” (*If you don’t shop at Aldi you may not know, carts cost $0.25. Upon completing your grocery shopping you have to return your cart to the building in order to get your quarter back.)
I was astounded. It took a moment for it to register what was happening. This couple had actually walked the opposite direction of the grocery store, in the pouring cold rain, towards me, to help me.
“I actually don’t have my kids with me today. They’re at home with their dad, but I normally have two toddlers in tow. Thank you so much! I can’t believe you walked in this rain to get my cart!”
“No problem! We’re happy to help. I remember those days.” They patiently waited for me to load my last bag and traded me their quarter for my cart.
I can’t tell you how many times in the last month I’ve thought about that interaction. And simultaneously, I’m a bit embarrassed to think of the number of times I may have accidentally high-stepped it into a store rather than hang back an extra second to show someone the courtesy of holding a door a second or two longer, or assisting with someone’s cart return. That gesture cost them absolutely nothing other than a few extra minutes of their time and some flat hair. And yet I’ve found myself thinking about the interaction nonstop for nearly a month. Offering to return a shopping cart for a momma trying to juggle littles and groceries at the same time, is an easy, sincere and helpful thing to do. I’ve vowed since then to try and extend this politeness; I’m determined to join these ranks.
Another rockstar example of kindness comes from a dear friend of mine. I’ve known this friend for a number of years but we’ve gotten closer since I became a stay at home parent. She frequently calls to see what I’m up to and how my girls are doing. She’ll text and ask for pictures and updates of them. It’s a common occurrence for her text asking if I’m at home, and then says that she’s in the neighborhood with a little something special for the girls she’d like to drop off. She’ll pop by a few minutes later bearing gift of some sort for my girls; cake pops, fresh donuts, Pez dispensers, or a little gift she saw while out-and-about that made her think of my children. Sometimes she drops in with a surprise cup of coffee for me (and adult conversation!) She knows it’s not necessary to bring these gifts, and that we’re excited to see her regardless, but she does it anyway.
This is a momma who is in a totally different season of motherhood. Her own children are driving, and dating and getting ready to fledge the nest. She makes a point to say “I miss your girls!” Without realizing she’s even doing it, she’s always complimenting me on how hard I work, my housekeeping, or my girls’ manners. She is an endless bright spot in all of our days. The tangible gifts are generous and insanely sweet, but mostly we’re blessed by her giving of her time and love so freely.
Can I just encourage you that if you have a heart for your friends’ children, to share that. Love on them. Those children love it, and as a parent, nothing makes me more proud than to have other people see what I see in my own children. What a ministry to show love and kindness to someone by loving their child, especially someone who has little to offer in return.
You guys, these simple gestures amount to so much. I’ve been profoundly blessed by each of them and I continue to be. Kindness is easy. And it’s a habit. Are you a habitual giver of time, love & kindness? Would you stand in the pouring rain to help a stranger? Until it happened to me, I probably would not have. Kind hearts and returned shopping carts cost us nothing. Give freely.