Somewhere between my Sunday morning dose of the New York Times, a hot cup of coffee, a quick shower and running out the door for mass, I saw this.
Sam was helping his little sister, Kate read music and master a song for her afternoon lesson. He was kind and compassionate especially when she was ready to throw in the towel. He seemed to know how to guide her in a way that was palatable, when she had been kicking and screaming otherwise. Calm and steady, his approach was both surprising and simultaneously reassuring. By God, they actually do love and care about each other.
Which is a silly thing to say...but sometimes, well, many times when the shit storms are coming fast and furious, you wonder as a mother whether you did the right thing by having more than one.
And as I watch them maneuver through homework, ballet, friendships, talent shows, family gatherings, sickness and Elf on the Shelf joy...I'm mindful that much to my dismay, they're getting big. Sam is turning 11 in February and Kate is 8 turning 38...which leaves nothing to be said for our youngest, Claire who turns 5 next week, but believes she's a grown woman as well.
And the truth is that I want a lot for them. I have really, maybe exceedingly high expectations. But at the very tippy-top of that list, above all else for a long way before the second item is kindness. I yearn for them to have a heart of kindness and a spirit of generosity. And when they see someone in need, I want it to hurt badly enough that they think...what can I do to help?
Paralyzed by watching our latest presidential candidates parade while simultaneously, standing horrified by the mass shootings that now seem to take place at the drop of a hat, I have never been more certain that we have lost sight of one another and that ultimately, in every way, we belong to each other.
And the belonging doesn't have to be in grand gestures, it starts at home. It starts by putting your arm around your crazy kid sister who drives you bonkers and who on most days you wish would vacate the planet, but for a brief moment you're willing to overlook all of that to help her find a b flat. It starts by saying, I don't know you, but here's something of mine that I really don't need that you could use and that's enough.
In the end, it's just not that hard. To be kind to another with a smile or a quarter or a lift or a prayer or a coat...it's just what you do and it doesn't take that much time or skin off your back.
As they grow, I want all three of them to lean on each other. I want them to have the kind of relationship where they instinctively depend on the other, even if they don't always agree or most of the time, don't. I want them to model with each other what I hope they'll give to their fellow neighbor. It's just too important....for today and for always.