I saw this quote recently and it really resonated with me; “Small gestures mean a lot precisely because they are small. They do not shout, ‘Look at me!’ They simply offer love quietly.”
I wish now as a 42-year-old, that I could tell my younger 20-something self to stop waiting for the grand gestures, stop getting swept up in the drama and most of all to not take the small gestures for granted. I guess this all comes with life experience, and when you’re a mom, your perspective surely changes.
My family leads a unique lifestyle due to my husband, Ryan’s, career as US Merchant Marine. He works as a Chief Engineer on a heavy lift cargo ship, and when he is at sea, he is typically gone anywhere from 90 to 120 days. The great part of his job is that when he’s home from sea, he’s home with us full-time and we have a lot of quality time together.
We have 2 sets of twins ages 7 and 9. As a family, we have come to adjust to the transitions every few months, the missed holidays, birthdays, the seasons that come and go when Dad is at work. But we get so much more time together than most families when he’s home that it works for us.
We are stronger from this lifestyle, but every once in awhile, we have a curveball thrown at us.
My husband left in November on what was meant to be a 90-day stint. We recently found out that due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, it’s likely he will be delayed 2 more months.
It’s like a punch in the gut—both for him and for me.
I liken one of Ryan’s trips to a race. Whenever I have run a road race, I get to the final stretch and I want to stop. I’m tired, I’m spent, I hurt. But then I think to myself, “You’ve come this far. You’re so close to the finish line! Don’t give up! Relief is in sight!”
For Ryan, the finish line is returning to his family and leaving his stressful job behind him for a few months to focus on the people he loves—and being Dad again, being a husband again.
For me, the finish line is having a partner again—having someone here on the home front with whom to share romantic moments, to laugh, and to experience the highs and lows of parenting. Needless to say, being so close to the finish line and then being told that you have to basically re-start the race all over again is a tough pill to swallow for both parties, and especially for the children.
That’s where the small gestures come in. Since finding out about our delay, and sharing the news with my circle, I have received many sweet messages of concern and words of encouragement and they always seem to pop up when I’m at my lowest. It’s literally the one sentence texts of, “You doing ok over there?” “Just checking in!” “Anything I can do?” “Hang in there!” that make all the difference.
Some days just a small, short message letting you know that someone is thinking about you can be the difference between a good day and a bad day. There are days when I feel so alone, even surrounded by my four beautiful children. The pandemic has definitely increased this feeling of loneliness, but then receiving just a quick, “Thinking of you” text grounds me again and reminds me that I am not alone.
Because these small gestures make my life better, I try my hardest to pay it forward and check in on those I haven’t spoken to in awhile or try to give honest compliments when it seems like someone is in need of a boost. I think sometimes people feel like the grander the gesture, the greater the amount of care. At one point in my life I would have thought that too, but age, motherhood and just life in general has showed me that the small gestures that “offer love quietly” are the ones that mean the most.