Summer Camp Day 20: Kindness

July 20, 2011

(Sorry to my RSS subscribers about the truncated feed — battling a fucknut blog scraper.)

Day 20 of blog summer camp at Creating Motherhood.

Today’s prompt: What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? Did you repay the kindness? Did you blog about it?

Due to a confluence of ongoing limbo, the most hated person in my life pulling her same shit, and having to spend most of my time doing things that are neither enjoyable nor beneficial, I’m in a bad mood today. Then I saw the Summer Camp topic and thought, “Oh good, this will lift my spirits.”

And then I couldn’t think of anything.

I racked my brain and couldn’t think of any big kindness anyone has ever done for me.

Little ones, sure, but nothing extraordinary.

Which is pretty sad considering that I try very hard to be kind to others.

On an earlier day of camp I talked about birthday cakes. I have baked literally dozens — I’m sure well over 100 — birthday cakes for others, and in my whole life no one has ever baked me a birthday cake. Unless you count the ones I’ve baked for myself, which really shouldn’t count. Boo hoo, poor me. There’s no shortage of cake in my life, but still.

I don’t bake cakes so that others will bake them for me. I don’t perform kindnesses so that others will be kind. I do it because I do it. But when all I can recall are mediocre store-bought sheet cakes and some extraordinary unkindnesses, it makes me sad.

Finally I thought of a set of true kindnesses I’ve received: the relatives and friends who came to stay with us when Burrito and Tamale were tiny.

And several people who drove an hour or two to visit when I was in the hospital trying to prevent Burrito and Tamale from being born too early — including my massage therapist, who not only drove far but didn’t even charge me for my hospital bed massage.

Or the neighbor who left me flowers on the day that my mother died, the note unsigned and saying nothing except a little heart. Which normally would be a small kindness, but on that day was huge.

Or today when I glumly asked, “Who wants to give Mommy a hug?” and Burrito ran over as he usually does and threw his arms around my neck. Then immediately after Burrito finished his hug, Tamale, who loves to give kisses and does hug back but never initiates hugs, for the first time ever, came over and hugged me.

I would gladly exchange a lifetime of sheet cake for those hugs.


15 Responses to “Summer Camp Day 20: Kindness”

  1. a Says:

    I wouldn’t be able to think of kindnesses – it’s my greatest failing, I think. Every time my husband reminds me of things that he’s done for me, I have to stop and reassess. Then I realize what a jackass I’ve been. Buuuut, on the plus side, I’m learning to do the reassessment BEFORE I open my mouth. πŸ™‚

    Your kindnesses sound very wonderful – especially those hugs.

  2. Kristin Says:

    I would bake you a birthday cake if I could figure out how to get it to you.

  3. I remember the woobies you sent me, anonymously at first. And the pottery you made for me. And the drives you made to see me.

    I am very lucky and you ARE very kind.

    Sending you a X and O, probably not as delicious as those from Burrito and Tamale, but full of love just the same.

  4. BB Says:

    I am a very shit’alistic baker (I can’t do desserts, unless a boxed one counts) or else I would bake for you!

    And as cliche this might sound – I believe in Karma and it will repay back to you (two hugable and kissable kiddos are your current installment).

    Hoping the limbo undoes itself soon! XOX

  5. strongblonde Says:

    those hugs are the best. and seem to make the rest of it really seem meaningless, you know?

    i totally get you about nothing extraordinary, though. were people nice/kind when i was sick? sure. did people help out when the kids were born? yep. but nothing sticks out as extraordinary. if you asked about the alternative: i could come up with TONS of stuff for extraordinarily UNkind. …but then again, we have the same MIL!

    hope you’re doing okay. maybe we should share a virtual glass of wine!

  6. Mel Says:

    I love this post. And the fact that you found those moments of kindness.

  7. Bea Says:

    Sometimes I wonder if I’m just adding up wrong, because I feel like that, too. Recently I read something which made me wonder if I’m just dealing with people who have a different currency. Whilst I complain that they never bake me stuff, they complain that I don’t hug enough, or whatever. We’re all trying, but using such different methods that the other person never sees the gift. I will have to watch more closely. In the meantime, hope those hugs keep coming, and maybe you’ll get a cake sooner or later after all!


  8. connie Says:

    I know I am guilty of not looking today in the face for all the blessings I have been given, esp. the small ones or the ones I take for granted. But I do tend to see all the slights, big and little and obsess over them. So like one of your other respondees, I am trying to be more in the moment when good things happen and not allow some of the other stuff to overshadow my thinking. Let’s all celebrate the hugs and kisses today!

  9. Chickenpig Says:

    When my daughter was born, two of my neighbors got together and paid for my whole house to be cleaned so I would have a clean house to come home to with the new baby. With twin two year olds in the house my husband couldn’t keep up, and I was too pregnant to be of much help. When I came home to that sparkling house I broke down in tears. It still makes me teary eyed, to be honest. It was worth a thousand cakes πŸ™‚

    I can’t bake, no one wants to eat the cakes I make, trust me. But I would gladly send you a virtual cake. Better yet, I would clean your house.

  10. Willow Says:

    This brought tears to my eyes–especially those sweet hugs at the end! I feel like this a lot too. For instance, I send birthday cards without fail to everyone in my large extended family, but rarely do I get a card from anyone but my own parents and husband (and friends, if we throw a party). I don’t like the disparity, but I send the cards like you bake the cakes–because I want to, because I like doing things for others and letting them know that I care. I wish there were more reciprocation, simply because I like cards too, but I’ve had to accept that not everyone is thoughtful in that way. Wishing you some truly delicious cake that you don’t have to make yourself!

  11. Cat Says:

    I’ve also made a lot of birthday cakes, but I usually got paid for them as part of my small home business. No one has made a cake for me since I was a kid. It’s probably just as well, since I don’t think anyone would make it as rich and chocolatey as I require. The last few years I have been ordering my own birthday doughnut cake and I feel more than a little silly that the name on top of the cake is the same as the person ordering it on their form. But it’s a GIANT filled doughnut with fudge-y frosting, so I get over it.

    The kindest thing anyone has ever done for me is probably my friend from church who came nearly every Friday morning to help with a feeding for about six months after the babies came home. I would look forward to her visits and help all week.

    P.S. What’s a blog scraper?

  12. It’s funny how in the US it’s not done to bake a birthday cake for yourself. The Dutch tradition is that you bake (or you buy…) your own cake, then you bring it to work as a treat for your co-workers (or to class). And every time DH and I did that the five years we lived in the US our co-workers felt sorry for us! πŸ˜‰

  13. md Says:

    glad you found your moments of kindness. and hope they’re always there, whether in hugs or cakes πŸ™‚

  14. Dora Says:

    Been meaning to comment on this post, but first, sorry you’re having a difficult time with the job hunt. It’s hard. And all the logistics make it so much harder.

    When I read this post I immediately thought of the incredible kindness from you. Arranging for your massage therapist friend to come to my hotel room to give me a massage the evening before my first FET was incredible. Even if it hadn’t been the best massage ever (which it was!), it was so kind, and made me feel cared for while on my own in another city for a medical procedure.

    A little over a week ago a friend who lives a couple of blocks away rescued me from mommy meltdown. Sunshine had just had her biggest ever public tantrum, my lower back was in spasms, and I was emotionally fried. I called my friend to see if her very mature 10 year old was available to come over and play with Sunshine for an hour so I could decompress. Her daughter was out with her father, but my friend offered to come over herself. At first I was reluctant to accept, but I could tell she was sincere about her offer. She took Sunshine into her room and closed the door for an hour. Then she kept us company while I gave her a bath and dinner. Truly an act of kindness from one single mom to another.

    It will be great fun when our kids are old enough to help bake cakes! And lick the beaters! πŸ™‚

  15. Kathy Says:

    Here from Stone Soup Mondays on BlogHer. I can see why Mel chose this post to feature this week — it’s beautiful. As someone who often feels like I give a lot more than I take (or get), I appreciate your perspective on this. When I do really stop and think, there are plenty of moments, like those you described in your blog entry when I have received incredible gifts of kindness (in word or deed) from loving family and friends. Thank you for reminding me its the quality, not the quantity that counts. xoxo

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