"Are you okay?"
With those three simple words, I burst into tears. It was four days after my first son was born. The midwife was merely checking in on me as she would every day, and she asked me that question each time. That day, I cried. Yes, it was simple postpartum blues.
It is also how I generally respond to kindness. By crying all over people.
I have been polishing this hard, shiny exterior since I was a child. Being the middle kid, crying did not get me attention. I had to exude a different kind of vibe. An impenetrable surface - I am tough, I am strong, I don't cry.
But kindness ALWAYS, always moves me to tears.
A simple touch, a kind word. What does it take? Not much at all.
It has become my personal mantra. Be kind.
When my husband comes home from work in a less-than-stellar-mood and gets grumpy with me, I can choose to get my grump on too. Or I can choose to be kind.
When one of kids throw the mother of all tantrums over nap time, I can choose to yell. Or I can choose to be kind.
When the young lady at the mall pushes past me in a hurry, I can choose to roll my eyes and make a sarcastic remark. Or I can choose to be kind.
When my neighbor's children are outside my door and making noise, I can choose to judge her parenting. Or I can choose to be kind.
When the waitress in the restaurant spills a drink all over me, I can choose to be indignant and lodge a complaint. Or I can choose to be kind.
Because my husband is out there everyday, working hard for us, his family.
Because my children are still so young.
Because maybe that young lady had to run off to get home because something happened. Or she really had to go to the bathroom.
Because maybe my neighbor is actually a good mother, and is laughing and joking with her children.
Because maybe the waitress has been on her feet all day, working hard for her family.
A gentle word, an understanding nod, a genuine smile, a pat on the back.
It costs me nothing to be kind.