I stood on Millennium Bridge in the center of London with my family of five. Desperate to record this significant memory in this iconic spot, I stretched my short arm as far as I could. I wanted to have some physical memento of this memorable moment with my three children.
As I craned and struggled to take the selfie, a mom walked by and simply asked if she could take the picture for me. I gladly acquiesced, and what resulted was the perfect family picture–all children looking in the same general direction, Tower Bridge and the London skyline in the background, and bright sunshine along our faces.
That picture is now a prized possession and my favorite picture of our entire trip. She doesn’t know it, but she made me feel seen and my family feel special. Plus, we have an incredible once-in-a-lifetime photo to remember it.
Now, I rarely bypass a family struggling with a selfie without offering to take their picture all because I know how much it meant to me. That picture might become their favorite family memento.
Offer to take the picture.
Her toddler was screaming in the elevator while we all descended to the beach.
Little did she know that it was the exact spot where my toddler had decided to lie down and give up just the night before. Laden with toys, sunscreen, chairs, and snacks for a day at the beach, she stated that she wasn’t sure all the work was worth it.
Clearly embarrassed by her child’s behavior in front of a stranger, I assured her that after seven years of bringing my young children to this exact beach together with all their stuff and their crying, it was definitely worth it!
She pulled up the straps of her beach bag and tightened her hold on her crying child. As we stepped off of the elevator, we spotted another mom of three who was corralling her older kids, wearing the baby, and towing a beach cart behind her in the soft sand.
Both the mom from the elevator and I cheered for her as she struggled to keep the cart of toys, gear, and snacks from sinking too far into the sand. She looked over at us, smiled, and straightened up. The silly cheering spurred her on to the perfect beach-front spot.
The encouragement was infectious. It made a physical difference for the struggling mom.
Cheer for the mom trying to do it all, it might make her load lighter.
The week had been full, and to cap it all off, I had agreed to work a garage sale. I packed up the kids, gave them a long lecture about how to act at another person’s house, and set off.
Upon arrival, my blessed friend had pre-ordered and delivered three large cold brews with my favorite cold foam for the three moms working the garage sale. Instantly, we set about organizing, chatting, laughing, and caffeinating. We went from tired and overwhelmed to uplifted and ready to tackle the day. That little act made a huge difference.
It wasn’t about a $3 coffee but about recognizing my needs, my tastes, and even my personal struggles. The day was suddenly lighter, easier, and less stressful.
Bringing the coffee was all it took to make the day a memorable and fun event for us.
I often feel helpless to actually make a difference in the lives of other mothers. I feel the need to make grand gestures or nothing at all. Paralyzed by indecision, I often do nothing. What I know, though, is that offering to help, to encourage, or to treat makes an enormous difference in the life of a mother.
Moms give and give of themselves working to plan the perfect trip, pack all the snacks, and volunteer with the right organizations. Mommyhood is a time when you can feel slightly invisible, isolated, or even discouraged.
Yet, all it takes is offering to take the picture, cheering for the mom who is pulling too much stuff while baby-wearing, or just buying a simple coffee.
Encouragement is an incredibly powerful and effective tool for building others up. Moms need those small and important gestures too. Offering to take the picture takes only a few seconds, cheering for another mom laden with gear takes only a little bit of your dignity, and buying coffee takes only a few dollars. However, those small acts can make a huge difference.
Encourage one another!