It’s Friday which means it’s either a “mum’s weekend alone with all three kids” or a “rock and roll weekend”, although admittedly there isn’t much funk left to that kind of weekend since baby Willem arrived. But so be it.

Anyhow, always aspiring to be the best possible version of myself, I was pondering what might be some fun activities for this weekend. It hasn’t escaped my attention that this weekend is Mother’s day weekend. So it seems to be that random acts of kindness towards other women would be a fun activity to get my children engaged in.

It’s fun to get children pondering on what they could do to help out other women who we don’t know, just for the sake of being kind. After all, which better way to teach a child to be less self-centred, without taking them to the extreme of acting completely selflessly. There must be a middle way, right. Aha, intro the much forgotten quality of kindness.

What does it mean to be kind?
People often compliment me with this virtue, of being kind, and I thank them for recognising the light and love I wish to share. Being kind can mean numerous things like being less irritable, more patient, readier to listen, warmer, less prickly. Niceness may not have the immediate allure of money or fame, but it is a hugely important quality nevertheless and one that we too often neglect. There is beauty in kindness, ladies.
Kindness, though, is not a new concept. It is something we have been taught from the age of kindergarten. We learned how to be charitable, how to forgive, how to be natural and how to reassure. However coming from a British background, kindness was not a trait which was deemed desirable to express. I was brought up surrounded by women who prided themselves in being “tough” and “not taking it lying down”. What horrible attributes to want to cultivate in your character! Not that I am one to readily judge, but I felt hugely uncomfortable in this setting, having one foot in lower class and one foot in middle class.
Up the social ladder
Going my own way, I have learned that I don’t have to downplay one part of my personality, my kindness,  in order to gain in credibility. In other words, I learned that kindness is compatible with strength and is no indicator of naivety. Being kind does not make you a doormat. You can set healthy boundaries and still keep a smile on your face. Being nice deserves to be rediscovered as one of the highest of all human achievements.
Sticks and stones, darling. Sticks and stones.

Admit it, in theory you love kindness. But in practice, the act of doing kind deeds towards others leaves you feeling embarrassed, meek, tedious and even sexless. In fact, you feel so much overwhelmed of how your peers would value you if you were caught being kind, that you’d rather preserve yourself of this practise at all. After all, kindness is not compatible with being tough. Just like you can’t count yourself in upper middle class wearing no bra and a cheap dress worth 5 GBP. It’s just as senseless as being penny-wise but pound-stupid.

Kindness is a value I encourage subtly with my children. I tell them that being kind can be expressed in a variety of ways : to be kind could mean to be attentive, or open-minded, polite, or warm. There are no reasons not to be kind. You will however find a million excuses to cover up for the most prominent ways in which you are not kind. And at the end of the day, that is your journey, your choice to make, left or right.

 

— Tremelo, Belgium (May 2017)

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