Motherhood has offered many opportunities for growth. I wouldn't consider myself a good mother if I didn't make mistakes, learn from them, and try again.
By far the most surprising opportunity for growth has come from my daughter and how much she has taught me. It's strange how children, without any intentions of their own, can help you to mature and become more aware of the world around you.
Your kids will teach you more than you will ever teach them.
Here are six lessons my daughter has taught —some practical and some just plain fun:
1. If you're persistent enough, you will usually get what you want
This can be a frustrating lesson and one which often requires patience (and prayers for even more patience) on my end. Have you ever “given in” to a child's request just to avoid the constant questions and demands? Here is an example of how my daughter's persistence can lead me to “give in” –
“Mama, more chips?”
“Nope, you've had enough. Let's eat something else.”
“Mama, more chips?”
“No. I said we are going to eat something else.”
“Mama, more chips?”
Please tell me I'm not the only one who has caved in this situation.
However, her persistence reminds me that I need to do the same in my endeavors. While our desires and goals are obviously very different, I think there is value in working hard for what will make you happy. According to my husband, it's like they say in the sales business: it takes nine No's to get to one Yes. In the case of our children, sometimes their sweet, sad, or incessant asking/demanding hardly takes five No's from us!
2. Nature is fascinating and can provide hours of entertainment
If we are having a rough day at home, going outside for a walk or a visit to the park always cheers both of us up. While I don't always enjoy the hassle of getting ready and would rather stay inside and laze around all day, there is something about being in nature that lifts my mood. Once I'm outside, I always feel happier, less stressed, and more appreciative of life in general.
The freedom for my daughter to run around in open space, discovering a new plant or bug, or just feeling the sun on our faces connects us with Mother Earth. It slows the rhythm of the day and allows us to explore and learn together.
3. Animals and babies are the best creatures
These innocent creatures are so captivating to my daughter—from bunnies, cats, and farm animals, to infants and toddlers. And no wonder: they are just like her – curious, full of energy and excitement, and super cute.
4. Everyone deserves a hug, kiss, or hello
My daughter likes to greet others with these simple, friendly gestures. It seems as though she knows that every person deserves recognition, even in a small way. When she is social in public with kids at the park, a barista at the cafe, or an elderly couple at church, it forces me to be more outgoing, too.
My manner tends to be reserved, so although I don't always enjoy conversing or meeting new people because of my shy tendencies, I have come to realize the importance of interacting with others and being a part of the human experience.
5. When the moment strikes, don't be afraid to dance
Whether at home or out in public, my daughter will start dancing anytime she hears music. Watching her move to the beat is the most joyous experience – not only because she is being completely herself without any inhibitions, but also because she is having so much fun.
When I watch my daughter in these moments, I find myself thinking how embarrassed I would be and how much braver she is than me! I've always struggled to embrace who I am even in private. But being in her presence in these moments has given me a little more confidence to embrace who I am whether with my husband, relatives, friends, or people in the community.
6. Life is one big adventure
Since everything is brand new and there is so much to learn, it's no surprise that my daughter sees life as one big adventure. When I view life through her reactions to experiences, it opens my eyes to what is around me and I realize how much I take for granted or fail to notice.
There are some things that I missed out on in my childhood (or memories that I have forgotten) that I want to make sure doesn't happen for my daughter. Her excitement for life fills me with great appreciation for the gift of life and the many opportunities I have to experience it to the fullest. And I want to provide her with lots of chances to do the same.