On Kindness and Gratitude: In a Field of Horses, BE a Unicorn

The sweetest thing happened today… well actually it happened a year ago but the story continued today…

I was at an indoor play place celebrating the birthday of one of Mr. C and Miss M’s sweet, little classmates. All 3 kids were invited to the party and they were running wild the way 3 kids (5 years of age and under) do when they are with a group of their peers in a place filled with slides, bouncy castles and play tunnels. I was impressed that for a split-second I knew were TWO out of three kids were as actually keeping track of all 3 at all times in a place that size and that crazy is next to impossible.

I had just watched Miss M do a somersault when a friendly woman approached me and introduced herself, telling me she worked at my children’s school. Unfortunately, my most immediate thought was “Oh no! What did Mr. C do?!” (In all fairness, he was the one who was off my radar at this moment though I had a somewhat general idea of where he was…sort of…)

She told me that she had seen me speaking with Miss M and wanted to come over and introduce herself and let me know what a sweet, caring and wonderful child Miss M is… How lovely! My heart swelled with pride as I introduced myself and thanked her for going out of her way to share her thoughts on my little girl with me.

We started chatting and she mentioned her last name. Suddenly, it clicked! She was the Mrs. S who likely, without even knowing, had turned a really awful day into an awesome one for Miss M and me last year.

Please allow me to share…

It was one of those crazy mornings where nothing seems to be going right and no one is feeling overly cooperative or like doing what they should be doing. Hubby was dropping the boys off at daycare and I was dropping Miss M off at kindergarten before jumping on the highway and starting my one-hour commute to a busy day at my job.

Miss M didn’t want to go to school.

I couldn’t blame her. It was pouring with rain and downright miserable outside. It was one of those days that begged you to just close the curtains, bury your head under the covers in your bed and stay there until the sun comes out.  But alas, we put on our “big girl panties” and I drove my sweet 4 year old to school.  She sobbed the whole way, “Mommy, I don’t want to go to school today! I just want to stay home and snuggle you!”  It was heartbreaking.  I think this is the hardest part of being a working mom… tackling those days when your little ones just want to be with you (and you with them.)

I unbuckled her from her car seat, covered her crying, sweet head with her hood and carried her up to the school door where two teachers were intercepting parents to bring students into the dry, sheltered gym.  Miss M wouldn’t let go.  I tried to put her down and calmly explain that she was going to have a great day and that I had to go to work as I tried to pry her legs from their tight grasp around my waist.  This only made her cry more and hold on tighter, practically choking me.  The whole incident was breaking my heart and I was trying so damn hard not to start crying myself.

Days like these ones are tough.  Every working mom can agree that these types of days make for the hardest of goodbyes.  If I had a dollar for every time I have cried driving down the highway to work or caught a glimpse of myself in my mirror to see mascara streaks down my cheeks from morning tears, well, I wouldn’t be working. Ha!

I finally managed to get Miss M on to the ground though her arms were still wrapped tightly around my neck.  One of her wonderful teachers tried to coax her into the gym and help explain to her that Mommy had to go to work.  Miss M finally took a deep breath and asked her teacher if she could draw her a unicorn.  So random.  We both laughed a bit and her teacher joked about her less-than-awesome artistic abilities which seemed similar to my own… where I attempt to draw something on demand and my kids look it up and down as if to say “Huh?  Okay… I guess that sort of looks like that…”  I am not afraid to admit that I seriously lack any form of artistic talent.

Still sobbing, Miss M started back on the “Mommy, I don’t want you to go…” wailing when another teacher that I hadn’t met before tuned in to our conversation and told my sad, little, unicorn-obsessed Miss M that she could and would draw her a unicorn as soon as she said goodbye to Mommy.  I didn’t even know this woman’s name but in this very second, she was an absolute angel, here on earth.  Miss M took this teacher’s hand and I kissed my sweet girl on the head and told her I loved her before running back out into the pouring rain.  I could hear Miss M crying a frantic, stomach-twisting “Byeeeeee Mommmmmy!” as I ran to the car and took a second to breathe before starting on my way.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I cried on my way to work.  And that I HATED that I had to go to work.  And that I didn’t spend the day resisting the urge to throw in the towel and get in the car and go pick up my little girl who needed me.  But I couldn’t.  And, since she was 4 years old, I knew that if I did go back to the school for her, she would have moved on and be perfectly fine; wondering why on earth I was there disturbing her day.

When we got home that day, Miss M told me she had missed me extra today.  I told her I had missed her extra too.  Then, her little frown turned into the brightest of smiles as she said “But guess what?!  I have to show you something!”  She unzipped her backpack while asking me if I remembered the really nice teacher that had told her she could draw unicorns this morning when I dropped her off.  “Yes, I remember her.” She unzipped her school ‘mail bag’ and pulled out the most beautiful sketch of a unicorn.  It was white with a rainbow mane and rainbow tail which just happens to be Miss M’s favourite kind of unicorn.  In the bottom corner, it was signed “To Miss M. Love, Mrs. S.”  Miss M told me that she had sat with the angelic Mrs. S after I left for work and that Mrs. S had drawn this beautiful unicorn all by herself, with no help, just for her.  Miss M held it up and said “…and then I was so happy, Mommy. I had a really good day!”

And then, I cried.  For what seemed like the eightieth time that day, I cried.  Miss M asked if she could have some tape to tape it to her wall.  I told her we could do something even better since it was so special.  I took down one of her framed pictures on her bedroom wall and replaced it with this beautiful drawing of this beautiful unicorn.  The drawing that had turned a dark and dreary day into a beautiful one for both Miss M and for me deserved a special spot in our home.

For Miss M, she was thrilled with the special attention from Mrs. S and the gorgeous drawing.  For me, I was so grateful for the kindness of a beautiful stranger.  It’s very difficult to send your children off to school to be loved and cared for by strangers.  We are so fortunate that our experiences with the strangers at our school have been nothing but positive examples of caring, loving individuals going above and beyond to treat our children like they are their own.  We are truly blessed.

Getting back to today at the crazy, hectic indoor play place today….

I got to thank Mrs. S!!!  It was by random coincidence that our children were both at birthday parties at the same place at the same time and that she saw me talking to Miss M and had pieced together that I was her mom.  I am so happy that she came over and introduced herself because as soon as she said her last name, I immediately recalled the unicorn drawing from that dreary, sad morning.  I got to thank her for taking the time to draw that beautiful unicorn and let her know how much it meant to us and that it is still framed on Miss M’s bedroom wall.

It was such a spontaneous, heartwarming experience and I wish I had told her more about how crappy our day was that day and how much her simple but wonderful gesture had really turned it around for both of us…but all of our kids were running wild so it was a bit hectic to get into much detail.  But I did get to say thank you and that it meant a lot to us which was pretty great.

It really does take a village to raise a child.  That drawing of a unicorn hangs high in Miss M’s room as a reminder to both of us that when we can’t be together, we can count on others to care for us and extend a helping hand until we can.  It also reminds us that sharing a talent and offering a simple gesture can really change a person’s day.

“In a field of horses, BE a unicorn.”

Be well and love much. xo

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