My son will be turning two this month, and boy, am I getting a glimpse of what’s to come! Every day he pronounces new words and masters a new skill. Every day we discover facets of his developing personality. He is determined, loving, and oh so funny. And I am learning many new life lessons.
With these developments come many, many challenges. My job, as a mom, is no longer to ensure that my son is safe and well-fed. It is now to now teach him right from wrong, keep him entertained and challenged at all times, guide him as he hungrily explores the world around him, and hope that I’m shaping him into a compassionate, kind, and tolerant human being.
But no pressure, right? So let’s say that by bedtime, this mama is absolutely exhausted.
As I navigate new motherhood, I am also learning a lot of life lessons from my son. Believe it or not, there are many lessons we can learn from our growing babies (yes, babies – they may be growing into mini teenagers, but they’re still our babies!).
1. The energy you give off is the energy you receive.
We’ve all been there, that moment when your child drives you absolutely insane and you can’t even handle the situation anymore. You get visibly angry and realize that–surprise–your child does too. Does raising your voice ever fix the issue? Um, no. Quite the opposite. Your child feeds off of your energy, and if it is negative, you are simply making the situation worse. This is a good lesson to apply to our adult lives, too. Being positive, patient, and friendly will always get your further in life than if you act like a grump.
2. No matter how many times you’re warned, you learn best from experience.
Yup, toddlers are stubborn. I sound like a broken record in this house, constantly shouting “be careful” and “you’re going to hurt yourself.” Of course, it’s only when my son actually falls and bawls his eyes out that he then understands why he shouldn’t hop out of his bath and run, soaking wet, down our tile hallway. Some things never change, I guess. Just like the teenager you once were (remember when you fell for that guy despite your friends’ advice?) you will still sometimes have to make bad decisions. And yes, they might need to end with a few bruises for the lessons to be learned and digested. Unfortunately, that’s the only way we learn.
3. Life is so much better when you don’t take yourself too seriously.
My toddler has way too much fun. Today, he thought it was hilarious to run up and down our hallway shouting, “Run! Run! Run!” He dies laughing when the dogs lick the soles of his feet. At the supermarket, he doesn’t care if everyone in the store is looking at him as he makes chicken and monkey noises at the top of his lungs. Our kids aren’t trapped, like we are, in our adult shells. If there’s any advice I can learn from my son, it’s to have more fun. Who cares what anyone else thinks?
4. There’s nothing a good meal and a good night’s sleep can’t fix.
Amen to that! When my son gets “wild,” I know it means he needs a snack or a nice, long nap. When you get hangry or overtired, you can’t be productive at work and you sure as hell can’t be a good parent. First and foremost, take care of yourself!
5. Life really does begin at the end of your comfort zone.
It’s only when my son does something new and feels challenged that he takes a giant developmental leap. This goes for all of our kiddos. The more risks we allow them to take, the more they will become independent. We’re all afraid of taking risks, especially alone. But what happens outside of our comfort zones…that’s where the magic happens! Cheesy, I know, but true.
6. You can’t be anyone but yourself. Embrace your quirks.
Toddlers don’t try to fake anything. They don’t smile or laugh when they’re told to and never, ever repress their true selves. They haven’t learned to hold back yet. And guess what? Everyone loves them for it! Tell yourself that the people that choose to be around you love you for who you are. Embrace your quirks and stop caring what other people think.