Reading my Facebook feed lately or watching the news, all I seem to hear about lately are negative things in our world. As a teacher, it terrifies me that there are advertisements for bulletproof backpacks because that is what all of the chaos has caused. It almost makes our world a very scary place to raise our amazing fighters in. This is when you realize that kindness can really go a long way.
I had purchased a bow for Poppy from a small business owner and I was able to leave her a note with the payment. Next thing I knew she posted the note on her Facebook page commenting how the kindness I showed probably took 20 seconds to write but I had made her whole week and if more people could just show kindness, maybe these horrible things that are happening would stop.
A couple of days after that I had people show me kindness when I made the biggest parenting mistake of my life. The corpse flower bloomed at the Cleveland Zoo and it only stays open for 48 hours once it blooms and it would be a few years before it blooms again. I decided to take Poppy since I am a science teacher, and well, a science nerd so I had to see it. I never expected this event to be as popular as it was, so I thought I would be fine leaving everything in the car, running into the rainforest building to see the flower then to go back and get everything to enjoy the zoo. Rookie mistake! The line ended up being 60+min and I ended up with a very unhappy 18month old. Do I go to get our stuff and risk the line being longer or do we tough it out because, sure, I can entertain my daughter? The first 15 minutes were great but then the meltdowns began. The gentleman behind me with an infant and a toddler asked how old she was. When I told him and mentioned she was a preemie, he just so happened to work at Rainbows and then helped me try to entertain her and even gave her snacks which did help. Then when we got closer, the zoo employee in charge of letting people into the building said why don’t you come to the front. I said I couldn’t because this was my fault and all of the people in front of me had been waiting with their children as well. They all said go ahead we do not mind an extra five minutes, not because Poppy was annoying them, but because they had been there too at one time or another. I learned a valuable lesson that day about always being prepared, but these two acts of kindness bestowed upon us really had an affect on me and made my heart smile.
This then took me back to our NICU days. At a time that is scary and full of the unknown, you still experience kindness everyday from doctors, nurses, and staff. You break down in their arms, they see you at your absolute worst as you question the world, but they are still kind. Poppy was one of the last primaries that Nurse Joanne had at Hillcrest. In retrospect she has become one of the most amazing people I know. When we were there she took outstanding care of Poppy and of me. She would make sure I ate and took care of myself. She pushed to have Poppy practice breastfeeding early on because she knew that would be the best thing for her and that she was ready even though it was outside of the normal timeline. We talked everyday about life and our families and she always did it with a smile. She never once mentioned that she was sick. The pain she was in, she pushed aside and made sure she took care of us. Her kindness meant the world to our family at that time, and knowing that she passed shortly after our NICU stay just makes it mean so much more. She was our angel then and she is our guardian angel now.
There were other acts of kindness during our NICU journey. The acts came from NICU graduates in the form of gifts or sharing encouraging words. It came from the NICU grandmas that crocheted the adorable hats. It came from the March of Dimes that put on an awesome lunch. It came from the other families that were there when we were and whom we leaned upon during our journey and we now call our friends and have play dates with. It came from the medical staff and support staff on a daily basis. It now comes from the support groups and Project Preemie to give us a community that we can continue to lean on. We can’t say thank you enough to all of these people and we will be forever grateful for all that they have done. It has led us to give back to the community that gave so much to us in multiple ways including a shoulder for the new families to lean on by going back to the family meetings and answering questions they have about their journey. They draw strength from the strength we showed during our NICU time and after.
It is free to be kind to others. Smile and say hi to someone. Listen to someone. Do other random acts to pay it forward. These random acts can outweigh the negativity going on in our world. These acts can help someone who is lost or broken without you knowing because it was just the right thing to do. Who knows, if enough kindness happens, maybe the scary stuff will be muted or go away altogether. Lets give these amazing fighters a positive and kind world to grow up in.