Although I have only been a parent for a couple of years, I can already see what an impact my kids have made on me and my view of the world. Becoming a parent has definitely thrown me into the caregiver role with all its complexities, challenges, and responsibilities. I’ve also been forced to consider (or maybe reconsider) my own values and perceptions. Moreover, the girls have reminded me what it’s like to be a kid again and see things through their eyes.
Ultimately, I have learned some pretty unexpected lessons from my tiny toddlers and I wanted to share these with you (shhh…don’t tell them Mommy doesn’t know *everything*):
- To notice the little things. So many times the girls will say to me, “Look, Mommy! A bird!” Or, “There’s the moon!” Their innocent observations remind me that I often take my surroundings for granted. Like many, I race through my day, often checking my phone as I walk, without pausing to notice the ordinary things, like the clouds or the wind. I now find myself pointing these everyday things out to them as they do to me. It’s really incredible to share these discoveries with them.
- To be an enthusiastic participant in my own life. The girls have so much love and life within them. Their excitement about…everything is irresistible. I hope they continue to respond as energetically as: “Yippee! Raisins!” But truthfully, isn’t it so much better to be around positive energy? Happiness is a choice. In my opinion, a life without passion is not a life worth living. So I’m going to make a conscious effort to pursue the things that excite me and let go of the things that weigh me down.
- To remember the importance of communication. I have said the following sentence approximately 500 times in the last year: “Use your words.” By encouraging my girls to vocalize their feelings when they are frustrated, angry, or sad, I’ve unintentionally reminded myself to do the same. I admit that I have a a problem being direct. Sometimes I assume others know how I am feeling. As I urge my kids to express themselves with words, I, too, am trying harder to communicate more effectively.
- To accept the unexpected. Wouldn’t it be nice if everything went as planned? Your child’s naps happened at exactly the same time every day, no one in your family ever got sick, and you could foreshadow all accidents or mishaps? Yes, a fantasy. In fact, I have learned that rarely does anything happen as you expected and the only constant is change. As someone who loves order in all forms, you can imagine what a huge adjustment becoming a parent has been. Yet, I have learned to try and deal with things as they come and go with the flow. There are going to be those unexpected trips to the ER, those disasters that couldn’t have been prevented, and -of course – those times when you just can’t do it all.
- To unconditionally self-sacrifice. From the moment the girls were born, I pushed my needs aside. I was responsible for giving them their fundamental needs: food, comfort, warmth, and love. Their lives were dependent on me. My needs were second. In fact, I neglected myself at times, but for no better reason than I just didn’t think about it. Whether you are caring for a loved one, child, or friend, it’s an incredible feeling to be needed. And to know without question, no strings attached, you would give everything for that person. Today, I am still needed by the girls, but those needs have evolved to also include things like: acceptance, kindness, patience, security, and encouragement.