On a recent weekend, we walked around our yard, noticing how brittle and dry, pointed and discolored it had all become. After nursing the grass with a sprinkler all Sunday, I joked, “Now it will rain.”

The weather app said otherwise. In our family life, parenting adolescents sometimes means you endure droughts of affection from said teens. Most conversations carried an edge. The air in the home likewise felt brittle, pointed and less than it should be.

The next morning, my husband and I talked about how we needed to adjust the temperament of our family dialogues. They, like the grass, needed rain. Now telling our kids we love them is par for the course, but that wasn’t what was needed. They know that reality. What they needed was a reminder that they, too, love their family. They had loaded the car with their backpacks and lunch boxes. “Go back in and tell your dad you love him.” I said. Normally, I’d expect a “Why?” but they each went back inside without any fuss.

Sometimes we forget that we need the watering of words, the healing of little actions, even when we think those words and actions are for someone else. When we pray for others, we heal our own souls. When we act for others, we’re serving Christ. The tenor of my car ride to school is often silent and sullen (particularly on a Monday), but today, they bubbled over with laughter, and the 14-year old wasn’t irritated by the existence of the 8-year-old. We said our morning family prayers and dropped them off at school.

My own mood felt lifted. The windshield misted ever so slightly with tiny drops. The Weather Channel and the website both insisted that there would be no rain, just more dryness — but I knew the rain, the little rain, was like the little acts of love. It made things greener and fresher and better, and comes whether we predict it or not — and most often, when we do not expect. Stopping at Eucharistic adoration, normally I have a list for this, for that, for this thing, for that person, and there were plenty of petitions I could have given in that moment. But all I could feel was “Thank you. Thank you for the rain.”

I called my husband and we made sure to text all the older ones a little bit of rain.