Before I became a mom I felt like I had a decent grasp on parenting. I wasn’t going to let my kids sleep in our bed. I wasn’t going to let them eat processed sugar in any form. And I definitely wasn’t going to let them watch TV until they were two years old. And even then I wasn’t going to let it exceed the pediatrician recommended 30 minutes a day. (Insert laughter, here.) I maintained my “important rules” for about two seconds before I needed a nap and shower. The older my kids get, the more they shed light on the many misconceptions I have about child-rearing. I am learning from my kids every single day. Here are three genuine life lessons I am learning from my toddler.
My kids come to life when I put down my phone, turn off my mental to do list, and ignore the dirty dishes in the sink. When I am present, I learn so much more about each of their unique little personalities. Most interestingly, they have taught me to apply this to other areas of my life. When they do an activity, it is the only thing they focus on. Being present and avoiding multitasking in even the smallest activities can be rewarding. There is joy in only one thing at a time.
2. Be honest.
I once heard someone say, “If a kid is intelligent enough to form a question, they deserve an honest answer.” As tough as this may be, I am finding that the best way to open the lines of communication with my kids is honesty. Even if it means a wide-eyed nod when my three year old asks, “Mommy are you sneaking treats?” as I hide in the pantry with an entire peanut butter cup shoved in my mouth. But as she gets older, I want our communication to blow wide open. I want both my kids to have enough confidence in me to ask tough questions knowing they will receive a sincere answer. And I want them to have the confidence to answer in honesty when they are faced with hard questions.
This was (is) the hardest and most humbling lesson of them all. I have no problem using a stern voice when my toddler climbs on/ jumps off the coffee table. (Or insert any other from of unsafe curious toddler exploration). But there have been times when my kids are not doing anything particularly wrong. They have only pushed beyond my tolerance for the moment. Which has resulted in some pretty loud JUST STOP’s and YA’LL ARE GOING TO DRIVE ME TO NO END’s. To watch my toddler’s smile fade because of my words has been one of the hardest things for me to see. And so I ask for their forgiveness. They forgive and move on without holding on to so much as a hint of a grudge. How much sweeter life is when you let bygones be bygones?
I am still only three years into my journey as a momma, but have been deeply humbled by my kids and the lessons they have taught me. My hope in admitting this, is that our relationship grows because they know how much value they add to my life.