Becoming a Mother has been the most poignant thing in my entire life. In his 20 short months of life, this little tiny human has actually been my greatest teacher! Below are the 5 most valuable lessons I’ve learned from my toddler:
1. Be Fearless
My son literally has no fear. Fear is not something that resonates yet with his little brain and in a way, it’s kind of a beautiful thing (while often very terrifying for me). Obviously as his parent it’s my job to jump in when things are unsafe, but I love to see him test and try things that I think “oh, he’s not going to make it climbing to the top of that ________”. Because he almost always does, and with no help from me. He believes in himself while I am doubting him. Yikes! That is not the type of mama I want to be! I should be his biggest cheerleader! And what does that say about the way I think about my own capabilities and limitations?
We all have a self-narrative; a story about ourselves, written by ourselves, that tells us who and what we are and what we are capable of. I’m not sure when this develops, but I think it begins sometime after toddler-hood and continues well into adulthood until our very last day. It shapes our daily decisions and, I believe, tells us what we are “good enough” for. Combine the absence of such limiting thoughts with an actual lack of understanding of danger and you’ve got a babe that is fearless and there is so much to be learned from these little tikes. I’m not saying throw caution to the wind and run into busy streets, but I do suggest checking in with what is at the root of any given fear and assessing whether or not it is due to your own self-narrative.
2. It’s OK to have Bedhead in Public
I used to see what I called “crusty nosed kids” when I was in my late teens and twenties and would think to myself that my future children would never look so unkempt, especially in public! And while I am still a bit crazed about getting snot off his nose the second he sneezes, or food off his face after he eats, I still don’t get it all 100% of the time, and quite frankly, sometimes I am just too tired to care. Aspen is known for getting frequent haircuts and I’m pretty into the cool kid fade with the top longer, but let me tell you what, that cool kid fade grows really quickly, and he also has a cow-lick (or maybe a double cowlick?! Like what is that even?) and he sometimes resembles those “crusty nosed kids” of my past whose moms I was totally judging (payback, perhaps?). But here is the thing, in all of the times we’ve rushed to an appointment or just simply not had a chance to get his hair in check and it’s sticking on end, no one has died. No one has mocked my parenting (at least not out loud) and Aspen is not in the very least bit bothered by it. He only gets upset when I’m trying to put a cute hat on him to mask the fact that his hair is cray. I still believe in and like to look presentable in public as I think our outward appearance really does affect our inward emotions, however, I’ve learned that if I’m out of something that I need like milk for a morning nap and need to go to the store pronto but I’m kind of a mess (read: mom-style – messy bun, no makeup, possible cheerios stuck to me somewhere), I need to just go, remembering that I am still me without concealer and carry that confidence with me, the same way Aspen can rock his adorable fun spirit when he is rather crusty nosed.
3. Sometimes Tears are the Best Medicine
“Tears are healing”. These are the words of a beloved mentor whom I admire and cherish so much. And you better believe I was absolutely sobbing, full on ugly-crying, actually, as she gently offered me these words of wisdom. And it’s true. An hour later I felt lighter, freer, like I had shed something that was holding me hostage.
And isn’t it interesting how often children cry? Over anything and everything. Over being hungry (I think I still cry when I’m hungry sometimes – ha!). Over another child taking their toy. They cry when we can’t understand what they want because it’s the only way they know how to communicate. They cry when their feelings are hurt, or they are scared. They need a loving reassurance and sometimes just to cry and it out, then like magic, all better! Voila!
Motherhood and adulting is magical at its best, and gut wrenching at its worst. If you’re in need of that loving reassurance, please let me be the one to remind you that you are doing your best and that is good enough. It’s exactly what you should and need to be doing and its beautiful.
Cry it out. Let it go. Welcome the new day to begin again.
4. Patience is a Virtue
I will be the first to admit that patience is not and never has been my strong suit. Parenting has tested my patience at a whole new level I wasn’t even aware existed. It’s also caused me to break and expose a person that I do not want to be (see point number 3). But it’s a refinement process. Remaining impatient isn’t an option. Adaptation and continually becoming more patient is the only way to make it through the messy times.
I was recently reading about toddler tantrums, how to begin discipline, etc. Basically, I wanted to control my toddler’s behavior because it was easier for me than to allow himself to act his age. What I read struck me and exposed a huge place in my momming that I needed to work on – my patience.
This is a hard one moms, maybe the hardest. Especially when you are tired, and you haven’t met your own needs and feel like you are on empty. But patience is a virtue and whether we like it or not, these little ones will continue to test all the patience we have and then some! It’s best to recognize early when we need to take a deep breath or even walk away, speak calmly and with love. Our little ones only know how to act their age, and it is up to us to be the adult and not lose our cool. They deserve that, and we deserve to learn the tools to manage the trying times [End lecture to myself].
5. Celebrate the small things
One of my absolute most favourite things is how Aspen loves to break out into applause, song and/or dance for just about anything and everything. He loves life and he celebrates it constantly! Dora the Explorer is on? Dance and applause! Live music in the restaurant? He is enthusiastically clapping after every set! Stacks a block on his tower – standing ovation! And he just sings his way through life.
Something that I might consider ordinary, he sees as extraordinary. It’s sweet and precious to live life and see the world through a child’s eyes. We all have things that seem ordinary in our everyday that are worth celebrating. What a darling reminder to stop and smell the roses, its Spring after all! And don’t be afraid to clap, cheer, sing or dance it out at any given moment. Life is a vapor, here one day and gone the next. Celebrate the small things friends.