There’s a recurring theme in my life that goes something like this:
- Mama isn’t in a good space (see also: needs vacation, needs a full-time nanny, needs a sister-wife of her own, needs to go sit with her soul and be).
- Mama decides to Rage Against the Machine at the service worker at closest firing range (see also: Target employee, parking garage attendant, 18-year-old YMCA front desk worker).
- Said Target employee, parking garage attendant, 18-year-old YMCA front desk worker becomes a regular part of our everyday lives (see also: shakes head, pounds fists, screams Why, God, why?)
- Mama eventually has a Come to Jesus moment and apologizes to aforementioned Target employee, parking garage attendant, 18-year-old YMCA front desk worker.
- Mama’s little preschooler decides that he wants to be Best Friends Forever with every human on this earth (including but not limited to Target employee, parking garage attendant, 18-year-old YMCA front desk worker).
So we begin to learn their names, as we should have in the first place. We roll the back windows down and call Miss Lisette by her first name when she rings up our parking toll after a trip to the YMCA. We practice looking people in the eye, and then Cancan the three-year-old asks in his most scraggly monster voice, “Howareyoudoingtoday?!” He scrunches his nose and he closes his eyes and even though she can’t really understand what he’s just said, she too plays along. She too tries her hardest to show kindness to the woman who was far from showing kindness to her one day not so long ago.
Because even though the lesson is seemingly hard for me to learn, I want my boys to know and understand and realize in their depths that every human on this earth has value.
That we are not better than anyone, not one.
That all of us – Cancan and Frodo and Mama and Dada, and all of our neighbors and all of our friends and all of the people we see when we’re driving down the street – matter, deeply.
And sometimes I feel like a broken record player when I say it: we all just want to be known and understood, we all just want to be known and understood, we all just want to be known and understood, but it’s true.
We all just want to be known and understood.
This morning – in that same parking garage, with that same parking attendant – a man pulled up behind us. He revved his gas pedal impatiently, and because his window was down, I could hear his “Come on, lady!” shouts directed toward me. His threw his hands up in the air and he slapped the top of his truck and he sounded his horn while I waited for the car to my right to pull out of my future parking space.
And I thought about shouting back at him, because I am a rabble rouser! And it’s my right to this parking space! And who are you to think that your time is more important than my own?!
But I didn’t.
Instead, I just waved, which probably pissed him off even more.
And then, when he finally was granted the freedom to pass me – Jehovah, Jehovah! – I wildly waved my left arm at him some more.
I wasn’t mocking him and I wasn’t trying to make him angry, I was just trying to acknowledge that he too is a human. He’s a human who probably spilled his coffee this morning, which made him have to change his nice button-up shirt, which made him late for his 10 o’clock meeting, which made him shout curses and beep horns and pound steel at me.
Because it happens to me all the time (even if Ford F150’s aren’t really my vehicle of choice).
So friends, this is my song. It’s my song and it’s my cry and it’s the message I’ll likely be shouting from rooftops every other day when I write and when I drive, when I walk and when I tuck my babies into sleep at night.
Would you like for it to be your song as well?
There’s a book I read recently – A Man Called Ove – that really reminded me of this message. Within a chapter or two the reader is reminded that Grumpy Old Men are not merely Grumpy Old Men, but there’s a story behind each and every one of us, behind the grumpiness we sometimes clothe ourselves with. It’s a fun, funny, and endearing story, so check it out if you’re in need of a new fiction read. Otherwise, what lessons are you learning over and over again? Who do you need to practice kindness toward? And really, how do YOU feel about Ford F150 drivers?
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