A Mother’s Pride and a Helping Hand

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We were driving home today during peak hour, and found ourselves stopped at a red light. The boys were playing and singing in the back seat. I happened to glance out the window and see the guy in the car next to us — in the turning lane — struggling to start his car. It had obviously stalled (or something worse), and he was getting more and more flustered as each turn of his key resulted in… nothing.

“Aw, dude…” I muttered. I remember all too well the times I’ve been in a similar situation. Fortunately, it’s been many years since the last occurrence, but I recall the heat that rushed up my neck and across my face, the sense of shame and anxiety, the desperation… The guilt as other cars were held up on their journey, or had to drive around my broken-down car. All of those emotions came back in a rush as I watched this stranger turn his key on. Off. On. Off.

I gestured out the window. “The poor guy’s having trouble with his car. He can’t get it started.” I looked around. Both our cars were second back from the front, and the lights were red. “Maybe I can jump out and help him.”“What’s wrong, Mummy?” Master Six asked.

But just as I said that, both traffic lights went green. The guy with the broken-down car put his hazard lights on and climbed out of his vehicle. And the car behind honked its horn. I was holding  up peak hour traffic.

I had no choice but to start driving. But as I did, I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw the driver of the car behind broken-down-guy climbing out of his car as well. At least he was going to get some help to get his car off the road.

“Mummy!” Master Six said from the back seat. “Wait! Where are you going? We have to help him!”

“I’m sorry, “I said. “I can’t stop here. I have to move.”

That was clearly not enough.

“I’d like to stop, but then none of the other cars will be able to get past. Sometimes we just have to trust that someone else will help when we can’t. And there was another person getting out of their car to help.”

Master Six was silent for a minute. So was I. We drove.

“But what if he’s not okay? Can we go back and check? Please?”

I have to be honest: I didn’t want to. It was almost dark. I had two tired children in the car, and another 40+ minutes drive to get home. I really wanted to just keep on driving. But…

But I always remember another conversation — a conversation I had with my mother five years ago. I was telling her about an acquaintance I had, who spent his every Christmas morning at the children’s hospital carolling; moving from ward to ward, cheering up the children who needed it the most. “I want to raise children who do things like that,” I said. And she gave me a funny look and said, “But if you want them to do those things, you’d have to do them too.”

If I want my son to grow up to be someone who will put himself out to help those in need, I have to do it to.

So I turned the car around, and we drove back to that intersection.

I took off my seatbelt and opened the door. But that’s all I had time to do. Before I could climb out of the car, a few guys pushed the broken down car around the corner and off of the road. Turns out, they didn’t need my help at all.The broken-down car was still where we’d left it. So I pulled over to the side of the road. “You go, Mummy,” Master Six said. “We’ll stay here and watch you. Don’t worry, I’ll look after Master Two.”

But I didn’t have time to dwell on the lost time. Because Master Six had something else to say.

“You know, Mummy? I’m glad we came back. Now we know he’s okay. Are you glad, too?”

And I really was.

Do you have a fondness for Random Acts of Kindness? Share on!

11 Comments

Filed under Life With Kids

11 responses to “A Mother’s Pride and a Helping Hand

  1. Great story! Love your kids!

  2. Dannie

    What a sweet, sweet story. Good job, mama!

  3. We’ve nicknamed a friend “Altruistic Man,” (a la Super Man, but with an A on his chest). Every time we spend time with him out and about, he finds someone in need to rescue. There was the night we were driving down a dark back highway after dinner out in a nearby town. He insisted we stop for the kids outside their broken-down hotrod on the roadside. Before we got out, I noticed they not only were a rough-looking bunch, but they were openly swilling canned beer. We collected the revelers to squeeze into my car and drove them to their parents’ houses. They were all polite and gracious, in spite of being inebriated.

    Sometimes he is paid with more than drunken gratitude. Like the time we saw some ladies who’d parked their car on the front lawn of a cottage during a wet spring, and were stuck in the mud. He and our wives and I got behind to push. She punched it and sent mud flying. All four of us were covered head to toe! We had to go home and use the outdoor shower with our clothes on. Got no small amount of mud in his car, too. The ladies had driven off with a wave and a shouted thanks, by the way. We were left to wonder if they had a hose or any old towels in that cottage they were leaving. But Patrick smiled and considered it all in a day’s work – just another rescue, but with a story to tell as a bonus. Looking back, we were quite a hilarious sight.

    And finally, my point: He has raised two of the smartest, most conscientious, humble, outgoing, and loving human beings I have ever had the privilege of knowing (they’re both in their early 20s now, and I couldn’t be prouder of them if they were my own offspring). So rock on, Altruistic Mama!

    • Patrick sounds like a great guy. And he was right — you DO have a great story to tell. :)

      Thanks, V. I’m not sure I’m quite in the same category, but I appreciate the compliment. And I truly hope to have someone describe my children that way one day. xxx

  4. Such a lovely story and you’re an awesome Mama (I love what V. said and his new name for you!)

    One of those moments when I felt like I must be doing something right as a mother came the week before Christmas a few years ago. My oldest had told me that she volunteered to help the special needs children during the Christmas program. I was so proud of her, but when she walked up to a little boy with Down Syndrome, hugged him, and treated him just as she should- like any other friend- I had to hide my tears. (Still get teary-eyed.). The little boy took her to his mom and introduced her as his best friend.

    I can’t take much credit for her or her kindness, because I’ve always felt she was born with an old soul. All three of my kiddos are like that- sweet and full of grace. I try to act on the compassion I talk about (often) but, my word, they outshine me and I couldn’t be happier for it. :)

    • Thanks, Tonia. What a beautiful story about your daughter. She’s such a kind, loving person.

      I know exactly what you mean when you say they outshine you — that’s how I feel about my boys. xxx

  5. Nicole L. Bates

    I love this story. You certainly are raising two amazing boys, and you’re a fantastic mom. I remember walking through a parking lot toward a store one day and on the opposite side the parking lane a young boy walked past some trash on the ground. His mother, who was walking behind him, started yelling at him for not picking up the trash and continued yelling at him all the way to the car. She never stopped to pick up the trash either and all I could think was, kids learn by example…exhibit A.

    I’m certainly not a saint by any means, but I’m much more aware of trying to do the things that I expect my son to do now that I’m a mom. Even things that seem insignificant in the day to day routine make a huge impact on the person he becomes in the future as well as how he interacts with others. I’m so glad you turned around as well, and so glad you shared the story.

    • Oh, I’ve seen people like that mother many times. Actions really do speak louder than words. Before my children were born, I remember seeing a mother and two kids in a store. The younger brother was being annoying (as younger siblings can be), so his older brother yelled, “Stop it!” and then slapped him across the arm.

      The mother turned around and yelled, “Don’t hit your brother!” and slapped him across the legs.

      And the thing is, she clearly had no idea that her actions were teaching her children exactly what to do in frustrating situations.

      But you’re right, it’s often the little actions — the ones that we barely notice — that teach our children the most. Being aware of what we’re doing is, I think, the greatest gift we can give our children. None of us are perfect, but when we try our best, and accept responsibility when we make mistakes or lose our temper, we also model for our children the fact that we’re not seeking perfection from them — we’re asking them to be the best people they can possibly be.

      Thanks so much for commenting, Nicole. :)

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