It’s been six months since the moving truck pulled out of my driveway in north Fargo and made the 16-hour trek to Athens, Ohio.
Six months. That seems like such a long time. By all outward appearances, we are settled into our new life: my husband’s face is on posters all over town announcing the basketball schedule; my kids have play dates and cross-country practice; I go out for coffee with friends and volunteer at the elementary school; I’ve even hosted a Bible study in my home.
Every box is unpacked, and the pictures are hung on the walls. My home looks like a home. I thought I had everyone fooled, but leave it to a 10-year-old to call you out on the facade.
The other night when I tucked my daughter, Jordan, into bed, she asked me a curious question. She said, “Mom, are you all right?” I told her that I was fine, just a little tired from the day and that it was time to get some sleep, but as I kissed her forehead, I knew that wasn’t what she was asking.
I strive to have the kind of relationship with my children where they are free to say what’s on their minds, so I reopened the can of worms the next morning.
“Jordan, about last night … what did you mean?”
She went on to say that she senses a difference in me. She said I don’t seem as happy and free and light as I was in Fargo. She said the last time she saw me like that was when my best friend from Fargo came to visit in August.
It was a punch to the gut. Tears started leaking from my eyeballs before I could tell them to stop.
As a mom, I think that if the dishes are clean, the laundry is put away and everyone has a note in their lunchbox when they head out the door, then no one will notice if I’m a little out of sorts.
I was in such a rush to unpack boxes and check things off my to-do list that I forgot how moving takes an emotional toll. Or maybe I thought if I just kept busy I wouldn’t have to feel it.
Here’s where the kindness comes in. After Jordan left for school that day, I texted my best friend from Fargo and told her what happened. I shared with her things I hadn’t shared with her or anyone else in a long, long time.
She reminded me that I’m still an important part of her tribe. She said, “You are the part of my tribe that makes me look differently at the world and the people in the world. I want to be a better person because of you.”
She reminded me that I’m still the same person I was even though I go to sleep in a different town and still get lost sometimes on my way to the grocery store. It felt so good to just let down the walls and be honest about what I was feeling.
When was the last time you’ve done that? Totally surrendered and admitted that you don’t have it all together? Our vulnerability is a great gift to others because it creates a safe space for them to be honest, too. That’s the space where kindness lives.
Later that afternoon, as I was sitting in my quiet house, the doorbell rang. Flowers. My girlfriend sent me flowers to remind me that friendship and kindness can cure anything – even homesickness.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at email@example.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.