After my marriage broke down I moved to a large house with the children under an arrangement that was euphemistically termed “shared parenting“
But it never was easy.
Never really shared either.
In reality, my ex-husband would show up when he wanted and fail to show up when I wanted – particularly when I wanted to be somewhere else – it was as if he had a sixth sense.
The children became scared and uncertain where they needed to be and ultimately unhappy.
It was a very difficult time.
When I look back now, I am certain this was deliberate as the upshot was I felt terribly guilty every single day and stressed to the back of beyond as I tried to hold down my job and bring in a salary and be there for all four children.
One Bank Holiday Weekend
Matters came to a head one bank holiday weekend when my wallet went missing with all my bank cards and my last ten pound note.
I had nothing and the cupboard was pretty bare save for a box of eggs and some cereal (no milk).
Coupled with that, a number of petty thefts had occurred over the previous weeks which had left me feeling hurt and desolate, small things but constant which included a handful of old photographs and which had left me without a single photograph of my children in the days after I had birthed them and of them growing up.
I suspected perhaps unfairly, my second eldest son.
He was very angry with me for leaving his Dad and at life in general.
It was one of a number of minor betrayals which had followed.
So you see, I was feeling very low.
My youngest son had arranged to visit a friend that Saturday afternoon.
I can’t remember the name of the woman who came to collect him in her car.
They lived in an old farm house up by the reservoir.
Her son’s name was Nathan.too
Sensing my low mood, she asked me what had happened.
I don’t know, I shrugged it off but then the gist of it I did share and just how fed up I was with it all.
It wasn’t a long conversation, I am not one to dwell on matters and I think although I might have said I was beyond caring at that point, I was actually deeply shocked by the betrayal.
Later she returned and beckoned me outside where she lifted up the boot of her car.
It seems she had left my house and driven straight to the supermarket to load up enough groceries to carry us through the whole weekend.
I cried then, really cried for the random act of kindness she had shown to me.
She had made a difference.
Looking back I wonder if someone had once done the same for her.
The act of giving
The act of giving had the feel of a universal bond, woman to woman, lifting each other up, a common prayer – I can’t describe it, like an initiation into a sisterhood club that had held a quiet silent unspoken place in history for centuries called upon only when the need is great when there is nowhere else to turn.
And I could see that clearly telescoped into that moment.
It was a very beautiful, kind thing.
And it taught me a very valuable lesson about strangers and random acts of kindness and an immense gratitude in the wonder of life.