Life Lessons From Our Little People
Above is a picture of our daughter Gracie Ella. She is determined, focused and very kind. We recently had an “amimal” party to celebrate her 2nd birthday. I dressed her as a bunny, she refused to wear the hat, preferring to let the mullet hang loose.
The relationships we have with our children are so precious and also so illuminating. I’m constantly amazed at how much I’m learning about myself through my role as a parent. They say our children can be our greatest teachers if we open ourselves up to the possibility of being taught by them. This isn’t always easy. After all, we are the grown-ups, we are the ones with all the life experience, we are the parents – it’s finally our turn to set the rules. But if we can manage to put our ego aside for a bit – tuck it up in bed and let it have a wee rest, then the lessons we can learn from our little people are so incredibly important.
Lesson #1: Being Present
Gracie Ella demands my full attention and as someone who struggles to stay still long enough to do one task at a time, this can be challenging. I used to see multitasking as a virtue – wearing it like a badge I’d earned because I could tick 3 things off my to-do list all at once. Now I’m realising it just means I get a lot of stuff done, but without taking the time to stop and appreciate the things that really matter. When I’m with her she forces me to really be present, and as incredibly boring as that is sometimes (‘What’s dis Muma?’ ‘It’s a leaf’ What’s dis Muma’ ‘It’s a leaf’ What’s dis Muma?’ ‘It’s a leaf – it’s the same leaf, you just moved it over here by picking it up. It’s pretty isn’t it?’ ‘Ahh, what’s dat’s this Muma?’…’Same leaf’), when I do manage to actually get present, and see things from her gorgeous little perspective, it fills me up with so much joy that the terribly important things I really had to get done that day, start to seem a bit trivial.
Lesson #2: Setting Boundaries
I am finally learning how to set boundaries, something that doesn’t come easy to me. I’m a really soft Mum – I’d much rather just give her a cuddle than discipline her because I know, at least initially, it will upset her to learn that she can’t do things like not wear any pants to daycare or press all the buttons on the dishwasher 5 times a day. But the lessons we are teaching her at this delicate age are important things she needs to learn (especially the lesson about wearing pants 😉 ), and focusing on that makes it easier for me to be strong. It’s funny, I somehow thought I would just naturally be more ‘Mum-like’ when she arrived and I would miraculously be better at setting boundaries, but, as with anything we need to learn, or any shift we need to make, it takes time to mould ourselves into this new shape.
Lesson #3: Expressing Love
And most importantly she is teaching me how to express love. For some of us, showing affection can make us feel awkward. It has nothing to do with how much we love or appreciate the very special people in our lives, but everything to do with how we show it. We all have different love languages and that’s totally fine, but it’s so empowering and fulfilling to dedicate time to work on this, and develop our ability to show love and appreciation in different ways.
She is an incredible little person and I feel so honoured to be her Mum, her teacher and her student. As she grows up I’m sure there will be many, (many!) new challenges that both teach her how to manoeuvre through this complex world, and teach me more about kindness, strength and love. It’s not always easy being a parent but it’s incredibly important to give ourselves permission to learn and grow through our relationships with our children.