A couple of weeks ago our backyard desperately needed to be raked. My husband and I, who like to walk every day, decided that our exercise would be to rake the fallen leaves, thus killing two birds with one stone.
Just before I got started raking, I noticed a Facebook post from a friend of ours who lives nearby. Michelle is a young mother with five kids under the age of 12. Her post simply read: “I need a break!” I quickly called Michelle with an idea: Walk all the kids over to our house and they can help us rake the leaves. In turn, they can reward themselves by jumping and playing in the big pile while Michelle could take a much-needed respite.
The family soon arrived and we all began to rake the leaves into a big pile. It wasn’t long before Carson (3) and Hope (6) were buried in the pile by their older siblings. Leaves were raining down everywhere, wedging into the hair, eyes and mouths of the little ones while they kept laughing.
After pulverizing the pile of brittle leaves, the kids went on to rope jumping, getting along remarkably well. The three older kids even helped their younger, blind sister learn how to jump rope.
Our one activity of raking the leaves blossomed into many fun-filled and rewarding accomplishments:
* The yard was successfully cleaned up.
* Everyone benefited from the exercise.
* The children were filled with high spirits as they experienced the teamwork of working and playing together.
* We all enjoyed that youthful energy and laughter that only children can so generously and selflessly provide.
* Michelle, who opted to stay for these activities, turned her exhaustion into vitality after witnessing the jubilation of her children at play.
Oh, and did I mention how much fun was had by all? You see, my original goal was to relieve Michelle’s pressures of having to take care of her husband, kids, dogs, household chores, work and studies. I thought Michelle would take this time for herself to unwind. Instead, she opted to stay with her children and partake in a whole new world of circumstances that varied from the habitual patterns family members tend to fall into. For Michelle that evening, the ordinary had become the sacred.
I felt a little guilty about sending Michelle home with her five kids dirtier than when they came, but Michelle didn’t mind one bit. It is sometimes the simplest moments that leave the most profound imprints on a mother’s heart.
I set out to kill two birds with one stone. By reaching out to help someone else, I inevitably accomplished so much more. What a good feeling!