It is so easy to stop seeing the people right around you. I am guilty of that, and my choice of gold star giveaways has underlined that the last few days. As it turns out, I had failed to reward neighbors and friends who have been standing on the sidelines, hearing about the project, reading the blog, telling others about it. They, in fact, had never even received a star.
A friend turned to another friend at coffee the other morning, as we sat on the corner in front of Colson's on a beautiful blue-sky day, and asked her point-blank, "Have you gotten a gold star?" That friend had, she hadn't.
My jaw dropped. "Is it possible I haven't given you one?" I asked, incredulous but realizing it must be true as I reached into my bag. No, I hadn't, ever, not once in the year-plus I have been talking incessantly to this friend about it, asking for her counsel as a mover and shaker, a get-things-done gal.
"Wow! I'm sorry..." I said. She almost didn't take it, didn't want it if she felt she had asked for it. But I hadn't really thought she would want one somehow, or I thought I had given her one and would look silly giving her one again...Either way. I rectified it, forcing it onto her hand. She definitely deserves it and I had been horribly remiss.
It is a common problem, I'm finding. Another friend and neighbor who has told me she reads my blog and likes it, after hearing that another neighbor had received a star and had been asked about it by a lot of people, looked at her and asked, with a slight tinge of envy in her voice, "What did you get a star for?" She had received it because she is trying, of course, I see her every day helping out at our kids' school, rushing around in the same swirls I am, making an effort to be both person and parent, to make it work. I hadn't ever given her a gold star.
It occurred to me that this other woman, this other hard-working mother of two, a songwriter, wife, daughter, always rushing like mad to get all she needs to get done done, always trying, hadn't received a star. Here I stood in the lobby feeling amazed. How had this happened?
So many people right around me have not received stars. I find that it is an easy metaphor for what happens in real life, not just in this project: we forget about what is right under our nose, we fail to notice it and appreciate it. Pathetic.
It is fitting that this idea should arise on Mother's Day. My family has just served me oatmeal and a smoothie and coffee on a tray in bed as I write this blog. I have demanded these things, made sure to voice my desires after last year's debacle where I joked that "I got nothing for Mother's Day, but my husband got a nice long lecture!"
The point of days like these, silly Hallmark holidays, is that they force us to stop and take notice of all the things that people do that we take for granted. I teased Oscar, my youngest, that I was going to play the role of him on Mother's Day, whining, "I want...I want...Gimme, gimme, gimme..." all day so he could see how it felt. I want him to stop and take notice of all the things I do, not to make him feel guilty, I do (most) of these things because it's my pleasure, but because it will be an important thing in his life to recognize the efforts of others, especially efforts made on his behalf.
Sometimes, I think, it is easier to be kind to strangers. It is, at the very least, far less complicated than figuring ways to reward those around you all the time. I'm glad I have had a reminder of that. I guess I needed it. As I drag my kids around the park to find birds shortly, a gift I am demanding they give me, I will certainly spend time reminding them that we have to remember those close to us in our lives, those that we see every day, and not take them for granted. Giving out even proverbial gold stars to people in your life is so, so important! Happy Mother's Day Moms! Enjoy your moment in the sun...