I recently co-coordinated and ran a Neighbourhood Kids Camp at my church, and it was a very tiring week. This meant I was responsible for the scheduling and safety of 50 kids, plus coordinating all the adult and youth volunteers. There were crafts, games, stories, songs, skits, props, guest speakers, decorations. It was so much fun, and great to be able to get to know so many families in the area and give their parents a bit of a break in the middle of the long days of summer … but I was a little exhausted.
You see, it turns out that just because I volunteered to coordinate a kids camp didn’t mean that my family disappeared and stopped needing me to do things. So every afternoon I’d want to come home and crash, but I couldn’t do so because I’d actually have to parent instead.
On the Wednesday of that week, I was having one of those days where I was just emotionally tired. I knew in my head that everything was going well, but it had been a long day and then when I came home, things were not going well there either and I had to deal with a pretty epic meltdown situation. By 4:00 PM things were calm and everyone was happy, but I was at the end of my rope and I could tell I was going to cry. I could just tell. Something was going to set me off, and I was worried that one of my kids would say something that frustrated me or hurt my feelings, and I would massively overreact.
And then, a miracle: a car coming down my driveway. I walked over to meet it, and noticed it belonged to a woman who lived down my street. Her daughter is a good friend of mine and her grandchildren were registered for the camp, so she knew what I’d been up to.
“Jacqueline,” she said as she got out of the driver’s seat, “I made you a meal. Just my way of helping out with the camp. Thank you so much for everything you’re doing there.”
Well. Obviously, I started to cry. I tried to hold it in, but I failed miserably. It was completely embarrassing. I did not just have a few little tears running down my cheeks; I was sobbing.
I took the meal (spaghetti with no cooked veggies because kids are unpredictable that way — smart lady — and delicious garlic bread) and then she left, and I cried some more. Then I stopped crying, and I couldn’t believe how much better I felt. It was unbelievable. Sobbing over a casserole dish of spaghetti had been such a needed relief, and I was so glad the tears came for a positive reason instead of a negative one.
I guess the lesson of this story is two-fold. First, if you are wondering if you should bring that family you know a meal or some baking or a gift card to show them that you see how hard they are working, and that they are doing great even if they’re exhausted, you definitely should. They’ll probably appreciate the gesture.
And second, nothing says thank-you like sobbing tears of gratitude. Sob away, friends. You’ll feel better.