Y’all: it’s getting hard up here in these mama-hood parts.
It’s like Cancan just woke up one morning and decided to have an opinion – and his opinion is boisterous and strong-willed and not about to back down. I shirk back, remembering how I innocently bragged about this Angel Baby’s ability to sleep through the night at a young age, at the ease of which he transitioned from breast to bottle, marveling incredulously at my own incredible first-time mothering skills.
I mean, should I start teaching parenting classes now, or wait until I have another month or two under my belt?
In my own brilliancy (…ahem), consider my alarm when a lost shoe in the World’s Biggest Target flushed itself into a flailing, wailing tantrum at his naked left foot. It mattered not that we were in public. Retracing our exact steps back through Target and standing in line at Lost & Found, and tracking down the cashier who’d rung us up didn’t count – but the people who sympathized with me did.
It was the “I’ve been there…” from the mama with two kiddos trailing behind her and one stuffed in cart in front of her that encouraged my heart.
It was the “I remember those days…” from the kindly older gentleman who bent down on his hands and knees to help me look under and around the car, just in case, who gave me the strength to keep on going.
Because sometimes it’s just nice to know that I’m not alone. Losing a shoe happens. Sad and tearful toddlers lamenting the new shoes bought with Dada happen. And sometimes the greatest thing we can do is just say I get it, I’ve been there, I understand.
My favorite part of Monday’s presentation involved walking through the Multiple Intelligence Theory with class after class of high school students.
“Every single one of us is born with eight main intelligences,” I’d say. You are brilliant. You are special. You matter, deeply. “But each one of us also has one main intelligence that we excel in – so what if we were to figure out the “intelligence” that most gives us LIFE, and let that show us where we’re potentially to go in the future, vocationally?”
They’d read through the theory, comic strip-style, and then turn to their neighbor and say, “Neighbor, what’s your intelligence?” I’d go over the characteristics and potential career choices for each intelligence, affirming and validating each natural giftedness present in that room.
And then a funny thing always happened: each time we talked through the examples of Interpersonal Intelligence, quizzical looks would rise on the faces of these 15 and 16 year olds when he came to the characteristic of positive body language.
“Let’s say you have a problem you want to talk with an adult about: who would you rather talk to – the adult who says, “What’dya want?!”, with frown on face and arms folded angrily in front of her body? Or the one whose head turns slightly to the side when he sees you, and palms up, welcomes you into his classroom?”
Without a doubt, they chose the latter option – and then, miracle of miracles, they began to mimic it themselves.
Almost unconsciously, the slit-eyes that had eyed me from the minute they entered room 1301 grew wide with openness. Defensive, crossed arms began dropping to the side. And shy, toothy smiles began to emerge on their faces.
I KID YOU NOT – this really did happen.
And it made me realize: sometimes encouragement comes in the most unlikely of places.
Because sometimes encouragement is found bending underneath cars in the Target parking lot with a stranger, and sometimes it’s found when that One Thing strikes a classroom of not-so-scary high school students, and walls are unabashedly broken down.
But always, always, it’s necessary.
So friends, let’s take a hurling leap towards encouragement. Let’s not give advice when advice is not asked for, but let’s say, I get it, I’ve been there, I understand. Let’s all recognize that although life is so, so beautiful, it’s also very, very hard (especially when little toddler babies wake up and learn how to assert their Very Important Opinion, all the live-long day). Let’s let our body language communicate kindness to strangers and friends alike, and let’s be encouragers who change the world, one encouragement at a time.
I’m going for it.
I am. I am.
What about you? How do YOU need encouragement today? How have you been encouraged lately by the kindness of friend or stranger?