Photo by The Shifted Librarian under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

For my mom’s upcoming 70th birthday next month, in lieu of gifts or a party*, she’s asked her extended family to do a good deed and share it with her.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how best to honor my mom’s birthday wish.

Service and volunteering used to be a big part of my life.  I launched my career in the nonprofit sector, working with volunteers, building service-oriented programs and volunteering myself.  Then I left the nonprofit sector, but continued to volunteer and serve on boards of community organizations. And then I had babies and any time I had to volunteer seemed to vanish.  But as my babies have grown into young kids, I’ve been thinking of (struggling with?) how to build service into our lives.  And I realize I’ve been somewhat limited in how I’m thinking about service, restricting it to something organized or to a grand gesture.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my mom and her acts of kindness.

My mom is the champion of the care package.  Whether it’s making food for an ill neighbor or friend, mailing a relevant newspaper clipping she thought you might like or sending a care package to one of her daughters filled with homemade cookies or quarters for laundry for her college-age kids, to gifts for her grandkids, including handmade quilts, valentines, a toy or some article of clothing she knows they need. (In one storied care package, I received a hubcap at work after my mom visited me and saw my beat-up car was missing one.  My co-workers fell in love with my mom over that one.)

Whatever the contents of the care package, the message was that she was thinking about you. That she cared about you.  It conveyed a quiet kindness, a steady thoughtfulness.

Inspired by this, I’m going to champion the small (but mighty) act of kindness for my mom’s birthday wish and build it into my/our family’s life.  I’ll commit to doing and sharing a kind act each day and sharing it. Instead of the semi-regular “roses and thorns” ritual we do at dinner, where each person goes around the table and shares the highlight and lowlight of their respective days, I’m going to turn that into sharing our “kind act of the day”.

Today, I renewed my annual donation to our local NPR station. Yesterday, I helped a new mom at the store, who was juggling groceries, a stroller and her baby.

Nothing heroic.  Pretty simple.  And kind.

What happens if I do this everyday and my kids start doing it and we all start doing this?

Please join me! Leading up to my mom’s birthday on September 7th, share your kind acts and tag them on social media with #momsbirthdaywish.  I hope to be able to show my mom how many good deeds she’s inspired by her birthday!

Help me honor my mom.

Honor your mom.

And help cultivate a culture of kindness.

P.S. – You’re not getting out of a party that easily, Mom!  We’re still planning one.


4 thoughts on “#momsbirthdaywish

  1. Yep, that’s your Mom in all her wonderfulness > she should be PRESIDENT & this would be such a great world >> she’s always thinking of someone else. It will be a great pleasure to do good deeds in her honor!!

  2. Dencie….I love this. You have had a head start on acts of kindness when you have visited my mom, taking her flowers, little gifts and balloons for these past several years. Your mom raised a sweet and caring daughter. 🙂 My mom’s birthday is 9/3. She is going to be 86. I totally plan to keep visiting residents at the care center when mom goes to heaven.

  3. Beautifully expressed, Heather! What a nice way to honor your mom’s wish. And what a world it would be if kindness whirled out of control! Your mom (my sister) could start an avalanche by her one simple birthday wish. Like kids, kindness comes in all shapes and sizes. Today I took my granddaughter to the zoo and a lady saw me struggling to get the stroller through a door and ran up to hold the door open for us. It was a small, simple act but meant the world to me. Happy 70th to my sister, who is kind and one-of-a-kind.

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