Some of the sweetest stories come out of the kind gestures of strangers, and many a mom has shared being helped out whether it was on a plane with her crying babies, at the hair salon trying to calm down her toddler, or out at a restaurant having a simple family meal when the bill was mysteriously footed. For the struggling parents who Mary Katherine Backstrom says "had come to this restaurant with a rosy notion of a quaint family breakfast" only to find their toddler wasn't into that plan, this mom was the kind stranger who reached out to help just when it was needed most.
"So I was sitting at breakfast, drinking coffee and people watching, when this sweet young couple caught my attention," Mary Katherine wrote in a post to Facebook. "They were taking turns removing their raging toddler from the table so they could scarf down some pancakes and coffee. They were fierce in gentleness, addressing an impossible situation with patience and grace that I could never dream of achieving."
After about 30 minutes of witnessing the father take his daughter outside to bounce her on his knee and the mother redirect her fussy toddler over and over, Mary Katherine says she "watched as this awesome team of parents finally raised their hands up in frustration and called it," asking the waitress for a check.
Because she's been there before with her own family and others have shown her kindness in ways she feels she can never come close to repaying, Mary Katherine decided to foot the parents' $20 bill and write them an encouraging note. She didn't do it for recognition so anticipated watching from her table as the parents received the news of their paid bill, then heading off on her way. Instead, she watched as the mom rushed outside to the parking lot, where she broke down into tears in her husband's arms. She wrote:
Moved beyond the brink by a $20 gesture. Folks, we never know how other people are hurting, struggling, suffering. This lady was so well put-together. She kept a stoic face throughout the entire ordeal and I would have NEVER guessed she was at her breaking point. But she was. Which brings me to my point.
There are millions of people on this earth who are at their breaking point, and most of the time we don't know who they are. Everyone is fighting their own silent battles, and this is one more reason we should always choose kindness. Today, you WILL encounter someone at the brink. Someone who feels like they are drowning in the day to day. The only question is: will you be the foot that pushes them further down or the hand that pulls them up for air?
Make kind choices today. You won't always see the results of your kindness. I usually don't. But, today I did.
Mary Katherine says this brief encounter reminded her of "the dire importance of this simple message: KINDNESS MATTERS. Make KINDNESS your mission. Be the hand that reaches out. And maybe one day, when you need it most, that same hand will return to you."