Things I’ve Learned from my Children
On our “nature walk” this morning (i.e. checking out our neighbor’s gardens as we make our way to the local Starbucks) Charlotte says, “Mommy, we have to stop and smell the roses. They are so byoo-fit-tull.” At first I chuckled at the sound of her sweet, little toddler voice attempting to pronounce a large word. But after a moment’s thought, I stopped and stared at her, in awe of the the moment we were sharing. I realized I was witnessing my daughter learn an important life lesson. A powerful, positive message that life isn’t always about the destination, but the journey.
But as we continued our walk, I realized the joke was on me. I was the student in this situation. I had been rushing her along, dreaming of some caffeine and a quick, hot breakfast. She had been the one to remind me of the beauty that surrounded us. Beauty that would be much more exciting than a jolt of coffee, because I would be sharing it with one of my all-time favorite people.
Needless to say, we stopped and admired the roses. And the cattails. And the bird on the wire. And the large oak with the cavernous knot. Charlotte had pointed it out and said, “Mommy, this looks like a cavern.” Excuse me? Now I’m learning vocabulary from my two year old?! At that point in our quick jaunt to The ‘Bucks, I couldn’t help but ponder all the other things I’ve learned from my children. So, it’s now nap time, and I feel compelled to create a short list (because even though I could go on forever, my tiny bosses won’t allow it).
- As I said before, life is short. Stop and smell the roses. Before we had kids, people warned me that time would fly by. They told me that once our babies were here, they’d be teenagers in a blink of an eye. As our oldest turns three, I realize that this is beyond true. Juggling a family, work, a household, and friends easily consumes day after day. When I had my second, things started happening at hyper speed. The special moments I’m given now will be fleeting memories soon. I try to live in the moment and enjoy them while they’re still here.
- Forgiveness. I am a master grudge holder. I can dwell on a rude comment for days. But, that’s not possible with a child. When they act irrational and erratic (which is almost all the time), you have to help them through it. Then get over it. Those times that I do allow her tornado of a tantrum effect my attitude, she’s totally called me on my shit. “Mommy, give me a smile,” or “Don’t worry, Mommy, be happy.” And of course, in that exact moment, I have to show her that getting over conflict is easy, because my behavior will be a road map for her behavior later on in life. I’m not perfect, but she often reminds me that I don’t have to be. I just have to be patient.
- How to be a better driver. It’s awful, I know, but there are times I get in the car and with all the things I’ve had to remember to bring, I initially forget to put my seat belt on. The dinging reminder my car emits often doesn’t register amidst the cacophony that is two young children. But, my daughter’s very bossy, “Mommy, you forgot your seat belt,” is a much clearer reminder of why I should use the belt in the first place. Charlotte’s even gone so far as to remind me to “Put both hands on the wheel, Mommy.” Thank you little lady. Now, let me see your driver’s license (but, really, I love this about her).
- Patience. Well, most of the time. Nobody’s faultless, and hearing your own name fourteen times in a row within a seven second time period will drive any self-respecting person crazy. But, if your child is learning how to put their shoes on all by themselves, you have to take the back seat. I figure that as a parent, I’m automatically late 47.8% of the time anyway. It’s in the job description. So, I either wait the fourteen minutes it’ll take her to put her shoes on, or I let her go shoeless. Either way, patience is a virtue. Goosfraba.
- Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Having children proves the validity behind John Lennon’s theory. I can plan to attend my friend’s birthday party, but a double ear infection and several nights in a row of not sleeping will throw a wrench in that. Once I entered into parental territory, my children had to become of utmost priority. Until they can take care of themselves enough to ensure their survival, it’s all on my husband and I. So, no matter what I foresee in my future, if my child’s child’s needs don’t jive, I’m out of luck.
- There is beauty to be found everywhere. And friends, too. Little kids marvel at the wonders of the Universe constantly, the wonders that we no longer appreciate. That spider web underneath my chair isn’t marvelous, it’s annoying. And clingy. But if I take a moment to stare at it as my daughter does, I notice its amazing design and beauty. And while she and I are staring at the spider web, whoever joins us is our new best friend. Oh, we just met you two minutes ago and you haven’t yet exchanged a word? Who cares? Kids will hug despite their unfamiliarity. This is the most refreshing thing about parenting. Seeing the world with an innocent lens is refreshing and eye-opening.
- I am so freaking lucky. I’ve mentioned in prior posts how trying my childhood was. It does not escape me how lucky I am to be able to provide my children a foundation much more solid than my own. Even when we’re annoying each other our worries are small in the grand scheme of things. And we have so much fun every day of our lives. Not many people can say this. For this, I count my many, many blessings every day.