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A Little Happier: Often, It’s the Small Gestures of Thoughtfulness that Make Us Feel Loved.


Because of the pandemic, and people staying safer-at-home, many people’s lives and habits were disrupted, obviously. And at the height of stay-at-home, many parents were supervising their children’s online learning.

A friend told me about a small incident in her life, and I find myself reflecting on it.

She has two sons, and her younger son has special needs, so each morning, she spent more time helping him get situated for his classroom, and her older son didn’t need as much support. Every day, shortly before lunchtime, she’d text her older son and say something like, “Getting hungry? In the mood for anything in particular for lunch?” Then she’d fix lunch so it would be ready when her sons got “out of class.” She just fell into that habit, as school was happening at home, and didn’t think anything of it.

Then one day she pulled a muscle in her back, and she was in agony. It was almost impossible to move, she was struggling to do the most minor tasks. She hardly thought about her sons' lunches, and when she did, she figured, “He’s old enough, he can figure something out.”

Well, he was furious when he got out of class and when his lunch wasn’t ready. He was so angry that she hadn’t asked him about it and hadn’t prepared anything.

And I think I would’ve understood if my friend has been furious with her son. I can imagine thinking, “Gosh, is he that spoiled, or that lazy, or that unsympathetic, that he can’t do a little thing like fix some peanut-butter sandwiches one day?”

“How did you react?” I asked.

She’s a lot wiser than I am. She said, “Oh, I understood the feeling. Sometimes we rely on these little thoughtful gestures; they make us feel taken care of. I hadn’t really put any thought into what I was doing—it just happened—so I didn’t realize how important it was to him. Once I realized, then I was a lot more careful about it.”

And I realized how true this was. Sometimes, these tiny, loving gestures, built up over time, that we count on and even take for granted, are what make us feel most loved.

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