Lessons from My Little One

My son has taught me more about love, life and myself than I ever thought another person could. Please see my latest post on Liberating Working Moms, Lessons from My Little One. ❤

As a working mom, and even more specifically, as a teaching mom, I often mull over the lessons my son might learn from me as he grows up. Will he be a planner like Mommy or will he go with the flow like Daddy? Will he be a horrible cook like Mommy or a quick learner like Daddy? Will he be outspoken like Mommy or a quiet observer like Daddy?

Too often, we ask ourselves these questions. We wonder which of our traits—good and bad—will rub off on our children. Then we think about academics. We wonder if they’ll learn their letters, colors, shapes and numbers before they go to school. We wonder if they’ll be potty trained…ever. Because we’re the teachers. And they’re the learners.

But this week, I realized something. That’s not true. I realized it before this week, but a few things this week reminded me. My son has taught me so much about life, love, and myself. More than anyone I’ve ever known has, or ever could have. Here are a few simple lessons I think we, as hard-working moms, can learn from our wee ones.

1. “Sometimes…what you least expect happens.” -Love and Other Drugs 

Man, there were moments during my pregnancy when I experienced wicked feelings of regret. Why didn’t I just get my Master’s degree, dedicate my life to teaching and writing, and put off the whole start a family thing for a few more years? Why did I subject myself to daily trips to the bathroom to puke?

Well, now I know why.

I expected the worst throughout my pregnancy. I thought about miscarriage, deformities, colic, and more. And you know what I got? Literally the healthiest, happiest, funniest infant I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. My son has taught me that from now on, I’m not going to fear the unknown or unexpected. Because those might be just the things I need.

2. “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” –Henry Ford

My son has taught me to problem solve. Lately, he loves to turn the television and Playstation 3 on and off. Although I think it’s hilarious when my husband is playing a video game and my son crawls up to the entertainment center to do his trick, it’s really not a safe place for him to be. I don’t want him messing with the cords and systems, so while we await the arrival of our monster play yard, we’ve been blocking him off with various other items. Items he has learned to push. And items he has learned to climb.

When I strategically placed a laundry basket in front of the cable box and game system, I watched. I could see the wheels turning in his little baby brain. He was problem-solving. How do I get to it? he would ask himself if he could speak out loud. He pulled himself up, cruised to one side, and began pushing it until it was far enough on one side that he could make it to the Playstation 3. He pressed the button, the light turned blue, and he looked at me as if to say, “I got it!”

Sometimes as working moms, we’re so busy that we fail to realize the simple solutions to problems that plague us. We need to look at our problems the way our children do. To them, nothing is insurmountable.

3. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did… Sail away from the safe harbor… Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

Babies and children love just checking things out. When I handed my son a piece of banana for the first time, he examined it. He passed it from one hand to the other, squished it between his fingers, stared at it, then ultimately, put it in his mouth. When we’re outside, my son looks around like it’s the first time he’s ever seen a tree or a sunset before. Because maybe, since he’s so young, to him, it is the first time. He chases ants crawling, sticks his finger in between the sidewalk cracks. He turns his head when he hears a fire engine siren. He is inquisitive. He wants to discover.

We need to appreciate beauty in life. We need to try new things. As working moms, we have to make sure to stay out of a rut. Routines can be beneficial. But they can also be stifling. We need to experience things the way our little ones do—like it’s the first time, with awe, and with curiosity.

4. “A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.” –Aesop

There is good stress or anxiety. The moments before a wedding. The start of a new job. The arrival of a newborn family member. But then, there are bad kinds of stress and anxiety. And I think we face those more regularly. My son isn’t stressed or anxious. He can’t be. His needs are met. As working moms, we work to meet the needs of our family. We feel like we are entitled to stress, am I right? But the thing is, the stress isn’t helping us accomplish our goals for our workplace or for our family. We need to let it go, eat the crust of bread while breathing easy, and forget about the things that plague us. Even for a few moments a day.

5. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” –The Shining

When my son wakes up every Saturday morning, he plays on his play mat in his pajamas for at least an hour. No, he doesn’t have to do laundry. He doesn’t have lesson plans to write. He doesn’t need to send out birthday invitations or grocery shop. But he’s a person. And a person needs play time. Which means, so do I.

Jack Nicholson’s character typed the above quote over and over and over again. Then he went crazy. Ladies, if we don’t have time for ourselves, if we don’t make time to do something for fun, we will lose our minds. I know that I grow resentful if I feel like all I do is cater to the needs of others. While I love pouring into my family and teaching my students, I have passions and hobbies that need tending to, as well.  Find something you love and dedicate some time to it. Dedicate some time in your day to play.

6. Love unconditionally.

This is the most important lesson I’ve learned. There’s really no love like the love between a mother and a child. People told me that. But I didn’t believe them. Til I felt it.

For thousands of years, people have been trying to put the love between a mother and child into words. In my humble opinion, no one has even come close. The love I feel for my son when I look into his sweet brown eyes is a love I never knew existed. And the way he looks at me is indescribable, too. What I’ve learned about love from him is that you only truly love someone if you love him or her unconditionally. Period. Real love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.I guess the point is, maybe I’m not the teacher, after all. Maybe I’m the learner. And maybe, that’s the way it should be.

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