Kindness doesn’t always come naturally to me and so my daughter has taken on the task of training me.
Genuine kindness starts within. This is where my daughter enters the picture. I am blessed with a daughter who catches me in many of my unkind moments and elevates kindness to a higher level through the use of the following words:
“Mom, that’s mean.”
“Mom, that’s really critical.”
Fortunately, her admonitions typically come after one of my classically sarcastic and snide remarks about perfect strangers (Note: the word perfect). Since teen-age daughters love to hear that they are right and that mom is wrong, I grant my honest teenager that admission. (At least in this case. We’re on a case-by-case basis here.)
At times, I cringe as I watch the sweet, compliant little girl become her own person, one who speaks her mind and who challenges me. I don’t like to be challenged. Yet, thanks to her, I’m slowly becoming a better person. She helps keep me emotionally honest. She teaches me how to be kinder because she is naturally a kinder person than I. I take pride in this girl-child becoming a woman with strong convictions and the courage to challenge her mother.
As my daughter begins to test her wings via the normal teen-age challenging of all things parental, as her mother, I need to stay several steps ahead of her. After all, I’m still responsible for overseeing this growing process and facilitating it as much as possible for her maximum benefit. (Please, don’t tell her that I’m busy working behind the scenes with the whole parent thing. Some operations are more fun and more effective when they are covert. Besides, I think she is already on to me. She will be for sure if she reads this. . .)
She may not yet know that with a great power like kindness, the shadow weakness also exists. This shadow weakness is the exact opposite of the strength. The kindest people also have the greatest potential to be unkind even cruel. When tired, pressured, frustrated or a bad mood, the shadow side of our strengths creeps out to scare us and any one who crosses our paths.
When I’m tired or just challenged by anything and everything, I’m not a very kind or thoughtful person. Trapped in my own head and misery, I snap at others like a junk yard dog. So why am I surprised when others react the same way? Why do I feel that anything less than peaceful and loving coexistence is unacceptable?
Life is cracking these assumptions wide open. Those I love are leading the awakening as our weaknesses and strengths rub up against each other.
The other day, my daughter said to me, “Mom, you are one of the wisest and yet one of the most immature people I know.”
“Hmm,” I said.
“Is that good or bad?”
She said, “It’s a good thing.”
I laughed and said, “It is isn’t it?”
We are works in progress. We limp toward greater kindness. We teach and help each other. Thank you!