While sitting in Panera (because I’m a hipster and need strangers to validate me while I write in public), I sat next to a family of four. A grandmother, a mother and two little girls. The girls, while young and active, were polite and respectful to their elders. They did not invade my space or yell or behave in a manner unfitting children their respective ages. By all accounts, these are good kids.
After watching this family for about 10 minutes (because I’m a creeper), I approached the mother. I had seen her weakness: judging by how few smiles she had shared in the short time I’d been watching them, Momma wasn’t happy. She wasn’t angry; she just seemed tired. A constant affliction associated with motherhood, I am told. After introducing myself and shaking hands I said this,
“You’re a good mom.”
That was it. Four words (five if you want me speaking proper English). A simple sentence. She was, literally, taken aback. Then she rushed in for a tight hug. She proceeded to cry. And said, “Thank you” over and over.
I encouraged her to continue doing whatever she’s doing. I thanked her for being a good parent. Because her kids are smart and well-behaved and it looks to me that she’s doing a good job. She blushed profusely and smiled brilliantly at her kids. You could see how vibrantly proud she was of her daughters. Now I had seen her strength: and it was a sight. I started tearing up with the expression of her adoration and even now, while writing this, I am in awe of the depth of her love for her girls.
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to witness this random stranger interacting with her children. It has encouraged me to continue reminding good parents everywhere that they are appreciated, even if it doesn’t mean much coming from a kid like me. I’ve been very, very lucky in my life to have access to several incredible mothers. My Aunt Bronwyn; a woman, I am not embarrassed to say, I unabashedly idolize. My sister-in-law Missy; the kind of mom I wish I had and can only hope to be. And my best friend Amy; who wants nothing more than for her children to be better than she (which is a daunting task because my Gigi is incredible).
I’ve been devouring, lately, the ideology that gratitude is a habit. In order to create a habit, one must consciously practice it. In order to maintain a habit, one must consciously find opportunities to practice it. I want to be a more grateful person. Not because it’ll make me look good when I face my Maker (because I’m too interested in instant gratification to worry about that) but because scientific studies have shown (time and again) that showing gratitude can make me a happier person. Being grateful makes you happy.
So, in conclusion, moms are incredible creatures and saying “Thank you” is good for your soul. Good dads are awesome, too, since we’re on the subject. Showing one of these parents a little gratitude made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside (I cried. I’m not even gonna lie about it. I went to the bathroom and cried) and promoted my habit.
My name is Chelsey Mick, and this is how we thank strange people for random stuff and get high on it.
For one of my favorite videos on the science of gratitude, click here!
P.S. Try not to cry.