Kindness. Oh, how I have reflected on this concept for most of the past twenty years that I have been a single mother. The act of kindness holds an importance to me now that I never would have held had I not been a single mother.
As I sit here thinking back on the years behind me and the many acts of kindness that were bestowed upon me by my family and friends, I get quite emotional. Those people can never know how much their actions of support to me, to my family have meant.
In many instances, these actions meant that I could continue providing a home for my family, food on the table, clothes on their backs and joy in their lives. These Good Samaritans will forever be a part of my family’s story.
Kindness and the Single Mom
Happiness is the new rich. Inner peace is the new success. Health is the new wealth. Kindness is the new cool.
When I was married, I never had a real concept of how kindness would affect my life one day. I lived very comfortably in a well to do neighborhood, close to the beach and surrounded by the word “abundance” in all its forms.
I wanted for nothing and woke up every day with the assumption that this was forever. Well, it wasn’t.
Little did I know that one day, one man, one person… could take this vision of my own life concept and destroy it by leaving my family for another family.
Leaving my picture.
Leaving me to reconstruct it all.
How do I do this?
That was my question for much of the past 20 years. When your two children are 4 weeks and 4 years old, you have a very long road in front of you.
How do I do this? How do I still do this?
This question has been at the forefront of many mornings that I wake up.
My answer? By receiving the many acts of kindness that I have been and still am fortunate enough to receive as I walk this long road.
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was, “if I stop to help this man, what will happen to me? But… the good Samaritan reversed the question. “If I do not stop and help this man, what will happen to him?
Martin Luther King Jr
Good Samaritan Number One
The first Good Samaritan that comes to mind is a wonderful General Contractor named Paul. Oh, how I will never forget this man and his kindness to me.
When my ex-husband left the family, we were in the middle of remodeling our home. We were living in a very small two-bedroom apartment while the house was being built. So, it was me, my 4-year-old son and newborn baby girl.
I showed up at Paul’s home office a complete wreck. He received me with a kindness I have only seen in my father. When I told him, what had happened I begged him to get me back into the house as soon as possible.
I was terrified at the prospect of being responsible for finishing a home that was still looking like a bunch of wood walls. He sat me down, got me a cup of tea and left the room. When he came back, he said that he had pulled his crews off the other building sites and will have them at my house the next day and promised he will finish this build ahead of schedule.
He promised that he would help me. He promised me that I would have a proper home for my babies. He checked in on us every day. He brought me little care packages and gifts for the kids. He eased my fears in ways that no one could ever imagine. He had my back and he did indeed get us into our home ahead of schedule.
Behind the scenes of my daily horrors at that time, he was working hand in hand with my Dad to get me shored up. He was my Guardian Angel. He was and will always be so special to me. And because he is by nature a kind man, he will never know this, because to him that’s just what you do. You help people in need.
Good Samaritan Number Two
The second Good Samaritan that comes to mind is my twin sister, Sharon. Ten years into being a single mother I thought my life was going fine. I had a good job and the kids were now 10 and 14 years old. I had moved through infancy, toddlerdom, and now we were well into grade school and junior high. I had sold the beautiful home we had built because my ex-husband wanted his money and move on with his soon to be wife.
I had purchased a new, smaller, and older home away from the beautiful community we were living in. But it was mine. Every day in that home was a balancing act of finances, but it was our home and we were a family in it.
Then out of nowhere, I was laid off from my job. When you are a single mother, a single provider there is no room for mistakes. No room for voids or gaps. When I told my ex-husband of this and asked him to increase his support for the kids, he told me NO.
I had to act quickly and rally my network. I had a mortgage to pay and that was always the primary subject on my brain…on my nervous system. Within two weeks I had a new job offer. The pay was half of my original salary, but it held a promise for a rapid promotion. I had to take it.
Even as I think back on the transactions of this, I remember it took a wonderful colleague named Steve, who was the man who connected these dots for me and referred me for the fast hire. He is added to my list of Good Samaritans too.
But upon taking this job it became quick to see that I couldn’t make the mortgage and uphold all the other responsibilities of my life. I soon got behind on my mortgage and was working with the lender to help me modify my payments under the lower salary. They would not lower them and the only way I could not default on the loan was to catch up on the delinquent payments which meant that my new mortgage payment was almost $5000 a month.
I couldn’t lose this house, our home, and have this experience be part of my children’s blueprint. The timing of the paychecks and the child support left a gap inside the month. My sister and her husband, a man who by the way was my former husband’s best friend stepped in and every month they floated me the difference and every month I paid them back. It was a balancing act all based upon timing and I have no idea how I made it through.
I was literally left with pennies in my bank account every month. Trips to even McDonalds were not an option. I maxed out my credit cards in order to provide food on the table and any other living expense required. But I was able to make the mortgage and keep my house. The house my children called home.
I know my sister and her husband know how much I appreciated their help, but they will really never know how important this was to me. It meant that I slept a few more minutes every night soundly. I endured this for 13 months. It aged me and made me ill to get through this, but I survived. After being forced to sell our home the first time, before, I swore to my kids I would never ever put them through that again. And my children never lost their home again.
Good Samaritan Number Three
Though there were far too many other Good Samaritans that crossed my path and helped me to name, the last and primary figure that stands out and shines above all, is my Father. I was blessed with a Dad who my ex-husband will never even dare to come close to. He had the values and honor of no one I have ever known since.
He was far too involved in keeping me sane, and solid to even try to attempt to itemize all his acts of kindness to my children and me. He is in Heaven now and I know he watches over us every day along with my mom who has joined him. But the most profound thing he did for me was to let me just collapse in front of him continuously, almost constantly until I got to the other side of the catastrophe of the week.
He allowed me to show my vulnerabilities, my fears, and my heartbreak, all without judgment. He was always there to glue me back together, remind me of who I am and love me unconditionally like no other human on the planet. When I asked him how I could ever repay him for all of the support he gave me, he just said that he expected me to do the same for my own children should they ever need it.
I promised him I would. I hope I have done a good job and he is proud of me. I hope my children feel that same sense of security with me as I did with him. I have certainly done all that I can in order to meet that goal.
Accepting help is its own kind of strength.
So, single moms, I share these three examples which represent a multitude of acts of kindness that crossed my life path, from the minute to the gargantuan. These acts of kindness are not random. They reflect the person you are and the way our best world sees us.
We are the very essence of nobility in the fact that we are responsible for picking up the pieces of a broken family and giving our children a firm foundation to grow and thrive on. In other words, we are worth the investments made by these amazing kind people who have presented themselves on our paths and that are still there showing up every day.
Be open to accepting the kindnesses that come your way. They can literally mean everything to your family. They do to mine.
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