I remember exactly how I felt when I found out I was pregnant for the first time. It was a whirlwind of emotions from excitement to anticipation, but also a lot of wondering if I was going to be a good parent. After all, as a first time mom, I had no idea what it even meant to parent.
I read all the books and did all the research I could fit between naps as my belly grew bigger and bigger. I had everything prepared―your room, your coming home outfit, the playlist I wanted to listen to as I brought you earth side. I got this, I thought, and then you proved me wrong.
You were born three weeks early via C-section. We didn't even have our hospital bag or car seat with us because it all happened so quickly.
You were already teaching me the first lesson of being a mom: From now on, we were doing things your way, not mine.
I remember the first time you looked at me and said "mama," connecting that word to my face.
I remember when I offered you food and you had enough so you shook your head "no," already so confident in your own opinions.
I remember when you let go of my hand and took your first steps alone, tears running down my face because you were growing so fast.
I remember when you didn't look like just my cute baby anymore―you were suddenly a little person developing a bit more with every day that went by.
There are days that I wish you could stay little for a bit longer. That you could fit in the crook of my arm while I sing you a song to calm you down after the dog knocked you over. I feel a little sad when I pack favorite outfits that don't come close to fitting you anymore. I find myself staring at the photos on my phone of when you were a tiny peanut, so new to this world.
Yes, you are growing so fast―but, really, I wouldn't want it any other way. Because seeing you become the person you are is magical.
I know what your favorite color is because you love to dress yourself all in green. You spend hours in your room reading books and transporting yourself into different adventures inside your creative mind. You know the lyrics to songs I'm clueless about and you roll your eyes at me when I mess them up, already letting me know I'm embarrassing you.
I love the confidence you have when you run up the steps of your school with your giant backpack carrying all your projects, and you wave goodbye at me excited to learn more about the world. When you learned how to ride a bike and started going on adventures with your dad (while I cheered on the sidelines―and made sure you were both wearing helmets). When we took you to your first movie--to watch your eyes widen at the magic you saw on the screen—and to introduce you to some of my own childhood favorites like Dumbo.
Watching your personality soar makes me look forward to what's going to come next. I cannot wait to be there for you when you fall in love for the first time, or when you need to stay up late studying for that important test. I cannot wait to see the person you'll become―I know you'll be nothing short of wonderful.
So I remind myself along the way that, slowly but with quickening speed, you are needing me less and less―and that's okay. It only means you're growing more and more into yourself. And all the hard work we put in, all the sleepless nights we spent next to you and all the support we gave you, is giving you the confidence you need to let go of our hands and fly.
I'm in awe of who you already are, and I can't wait to keep watching you grow. But let's not fast-forward time just yet. Instead, let's enjoy today. Because today is what matters right now.
Here are 4 ways I'm encouraging my child to chase her dreams now:
1. When it's movie night time, we let her choose what we are watching.
That way we can be more involved in her interests and be able to chat about what we take away from the movie after. It also gives her confidence in knowing that she has a voice that can be heard. One of our favorite choices? The new live-action Dumbo, because it not only opens conversations about being inclusive and putting family first, but it also encourages her to soar to new heights no matter what obstacles he encounters.
2. We encourage her to do new things.
Like that time that we signed her up for soccer after school. Initially she was terrified of having to make new friends and the possibility of not being good at the sport. Being outside of her comfort zone made her more confident on herself and she enjoys those hours running after a ball so much that now every time we suggest new activities she's excited with the possibility of new adventures and discoveries. When she's afraid, we share examples from characters we love. "Remember how Dumbo first flew? He was scared in the beginning but did it!" You can too!
3. We talk about our feelings a lot.
Both hers and ours. We want her to know that our family is a safe place to be honest and heard. We want her to be comfortable around us to express herself openly so we can all grow together.
4. We visit museums all the time.
It probably helps a lot that her dad is in the art world, so we have a walking encyclopedia of knowledge with us whenever we go to one. We've already noticed how our daughter is inspired by what we see, and how her little sponge brain is absorbing all the knowledge we put in front of her.
Bring home the new Disney live-action Dumbo adventure to share these special moments with your families.
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