So it seems that all good things come from Pinterest. I’m sure most Pinterest-ing people have come across some form of the RAOK (Random Acts of Kindness) pins. I did and was inspired by people who spent their birthdays doing Random Acts of Kindness. I immediately knew this was how I wanted to spend my birthday and told my family so months ago. Now don’t get me wrong, there are lots of things I can think that I’d love to receive, but I had a feeling I’d get a lot more joy from giving this year. The family was on board, although I’m not sure they really grasped that it meant “no presents for mom”. Now you can’t expect a 4 year old to grasp that concept. Birthday = presents. Period. But I did giggle a bit when my husband started asking what I wanted for my birthday. I tried to explain that this IS my present, but I didn’t push it too much knowing that HE didn’t want to have to tell the 4 year old that he’s not allowed to buy a present for mommy.
For months I envisioned how my day would go. I’d spend the morning delivering goodies and doing nice things for people with the youngest kids, Noah and Riley. We’d come home, have a relaxing lunch, let Riley take a nap (he might be skinny but he resembles a giant bear when he’s tired), and I’d continue the adventure with the big kids when Dad got home from work. Perfect. No stress and all four kids get to help me and experience what it feels like to do nice things for others. Then life with four kids and a husband in the Navy took over as it usually does. Josh started playing lacrosse and of course practice is scheduled for that night. Darn. Then hubby calls (no way he’s telling me this in person) and tells me he has to go out of town and will be gone the week of my birthday. I won’t mention what words I may or may not have muttered under my breath at this bit of news. I growled a bit and then moved on to Plan B.
So here is Plan B: Do what I can. No set number of RAOK. I’m not stressing myself out by doing one for every year of my age. Frankly I’m just not sure I can think of that many. Geez. Why didn’t they have Pinterest when I turned 20? It would have been so much easier to work with that number rather than the one I’m looking at. So I started my list and started gathering supplies. Then I started baking, because that’s what I love to do. And so my RAOK began. And it started the day before my birthday. And I plan to continue it for several days after my birthday. With four busy kids and no hubby home, there’s no way I can do it all in one day. But that’s okay, because I get to experience the joy for more than one day. And my kids will be able to enjoy it with me and even my unsuspecting husband will get to tag along when he gets home.
Disclaimer: I am not the most outgoing person you’ll ever meet. I don’t typically go up to strangers and give them things. I can be a bit of an introvert and praise makes me uncomfortable. So doing this is not quite in my comfort zone. But that’s part of the magic too.
So here are my Random Acts of Kindness for DAY 1:
1) Take cupcakes to women who provide childcare at the gym. These women are fantastic. They take great care of my babies while I get to go work out and shower uninterrupted 4 days a week. Did I mention I get to shower uninterrupted? That just might be my favorite part. Riley loves them as much, if not more than I do. His first move when he arrives is to either: show them his belly button, try to hide from them or latch himself on to one of them like a baby monkey and snuggle the life out of them. One of his favorite child care providers only works on Wednesdays so I had to begin my RAOK a day early so she would be there. As for the cupcakes, I made Mocha Caramel cupcakes. A chocolate & coffee cupcake with caramel buttercream topped with toffee bits and a caramel drizzle. You should be in sugar shock just reading about them. And yes, I realize that it sounds odd to take cupcakes to a gym. Seems like it defeats the purpose, huh?
2) Give away balloons. This one just happened unexpectedly. After leaving the gym (yes, I did work out and SHOWER while I was there), we headed over to the Dollar Tree for some supplies. While I was there I bought five Mylar balloons. I had only planned to buy three for my next delivery, but something told me to get a few more. Divine intervention? In the parking lot, I decided I should get a sweet picture of Noah and Riley holding the balloons in front of the store. I wanted to document our RAOK in photos. As I’m taking a picture of Riley hogging the balloons and Noah screeching about it, a mom walked out of the store with her two young kids. I heard the little boy say to his mom that he wanted a balloon. If you don’t have kids, I should explain the balloon dilemma to you. Moms despise their existence. Mainly because any time a kids sees another kid with a balloon, they have to have one. Balloon ownership is one of those things that is supposed to be “fair and square”. It’s a written rule. Article 47.8c of the Child Rule Book states that “no child shall possess, own, nor hold or even touch a balloon in the presence of another child without that child receiving a balloon also.” Failure to comply results in whining, begging and crying. So I knew what I needed to do. The kids and I walked over and gave those kids each a balloon. Now the mom was trying to buckle her kids into the car when I approached her, and I’m pretty sure she thought I was nuts. She might have even wanted to kick me for giving them balloons after she most likely spent several minutes telling her kids they couldn’t have a balloon, they had to leave, etc, etc. Oops. Hopefully she appreciated the gesture once the kids were safely buckled and flinging the balloons all over the car while she tried to drive home. Oops again.
3) Take cupcakes and balloons to ICU unit at the hospital. This one may end up being my favorite. We took three boxes of those Mocha Caramel cupcakes to the hospital along with the three Mylar balloons we had left. I attempted to let Riley carry a small box of cupcakes which is why we took three instead of four. That fourth box had to come home with us after he shook it over his head. Not so presentable after that. So Noah, Riley and I walked in the hospital and asked for directions to ICU at the reception desk. I had to explain what I was doing since I wasn’t there to visit a particular patient. It threw them off for a moment, but then they were super kind and helpful when I explained it was a Random Act of Kindness. They walked us up to ICU and had the ICU manager come meet us so we could give them to her. Again a lot of explaining. One box of cupcakes was meant for the nurses in the unit. The other two boxes of cupcakes and the balloons were to go to families visiting loved ones in the ICU. She was so surprised thanked me over and over. I managed to walk away without tearing up but it was a pretty close call.
A little background on why we chose the ICU. Several months ago my mom was having dinner with a friend when her friend got the phone call no one wants to get. Her significant other, Doug, had been in a very bad motorcycle accident three hours away and she should get there as soon as possible. They drove to DC and my mom stayed by her side the first week while she sat in the ICU waiting room hoping and praying he would survive. He was in rough shape, but fortunately no one had told them that there was a 0% chance of survival with the injuries he had. Zero. He spent weeks (months) in ICU fighting for his life and she spent weeks (months) sitting there hoping and praying he would survive. The nurses took great care of them both. It’s a true miracle that he did survive and is recovering. During the time my mom was there with her friend, Doug’s co-workers visited the ICU and brought them goodies. Just some junk food to snack on. Just a little something so they would know someone was thinking about them. So that’s what we did today. Hopefully someone’s family will get a tiny bit of comfort or joy (or a cavity) from some goodies that a stranger dropped off for them when things were rough.
4) Leave a big tip. Pretty self explanatory. I took the kids out for lunch and left the waitress double the normal tip. It was double what I would have normally left her, but ended up being a 225% tip. Something pretty amazing happened to me today. As I was out and about doing my RAOK, the universe was nice back to me. People held doors open for me, they let me park in the drop-off area at the hospital, and the waitress at lunch didn’t charge me for the buffet for Noah or Riley. She only charged me for my meal. Divine intervention again? I’m taking it as a sign that I’m doing the right thing.
This was all I was able to do on Day 1. Riley needed a nap, the big kids were coming home from school, and Josh had a lacrosse scrimmage. But even though I only did a few things, it felt really incredible. So I’m off to prepare for my next Random Acts of Kindness tomorrow.