Happy Mother’s Day! To celebrate, we offer a different take on parenting. Embrace the life lessons your kids can give you.
I clearly remember the first time I held our baby daughter. Her tiny pink face peered up at me. I felt her warm little body. I breathed in that wonderful baby smell of newness, fragility and possibility. My heart flooded with an intense love unlike anything I’d ever known. I also felt a huge responsibility. How would I teach our daughter everything she needed to know about life?
What I didn’t know at that moment of holding our daughter for the very first time, is how much she would teach me. They are lessons that have enriched my life. Here are just three of them.
From my daughter I learned selflessness. As a mom, you are literally giving of your body. On demand. At all hours. You’re not your own person for a while. In those early months, you exist to sustain your child by some miracle of biology. Parenting means embracing selflessness at the moment of your child’s birth. Moms and Dads will literally sacrifice themselves for their kids. You never put yourself first again.
2. The importance of supporting your intention
When my daughter was six she demonstrated that if you want something, you must first intend it and fully support yourself in achieving it.
Like a lot of kids, she sucked her thumb. By the time she was six and in first grade, it was time to stop. We’d have gentle conversations about it; often and to no avail. That thumb was not coming out of her mouth. Then one day she went to the dentist. Dr. Love, yes, her name was really Dr. Love, told our daughter very sternly that she had to stop sucking her thumb. Our daughter nodded her head and said in her little voice, “Okay.” That was it. She walked out of the dentist’s office and never sucked her thumb again. Ever.
What was so interesting was watching her support herself in keeping her intention. The next day she took her baby photo with her to school. It was the photo taken in the hospital just minutes after she was born. After school I asked her why she’d brought the photo. She looked up at me with the most earnest face. She said she’d taped the picture on her desk so she’d see it all day. It reminded her of how much she’d already grown and all the things she’d already learned. That helped her keep her thumb out of her mouth because she was a big girl now and she couldn’t do baby things anymore. I was speechless. This came from a six year-old?
The power of her intention to change was profound, and she understood how to support herself so she could succeed.
3. Boldness overcomes the odds
When she was 16 she combined intention with boldness to get a summer job. A real job, as she put it, not working at the riding stable. This was the very peak of the Great Recession, and summer had already started. She was determined. She created her resume. She dressed up in practically a business suit and borrowed my car for the day so she could cover a lot of ground in a short time.
All day she visited restaurants and fast food places, asking to talk to the manager. When I was 16 year old I definitely did not have the guts to do this. The first place that had an opening hired her on the spot. By 3 p.m. she had a job.
There were thousands of people in Portland looking for a job, any job, at that time. I knew a lot of them. She got one in a day. From that pizza job she saved $5,000 to buy her own car which she drove until she graduated from college. She combined intention with boldness to get what she wanted.
Stay aware of life’s gifts
Our daughter tells me she’s learned so much from me and of course her wonderful dad, Steve. But that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Parents are supposed to give guidance.
The real gift is to embrace what our kids can show us. We are all walking together through life. The lessons you learn from your child may be the greatest life lessons you’ll ever receive. I know they were for me.