We all have that person we admire, whether we are drawn to their awesome work ethic, their caring personality or their free spirit.
That person I look up to is my 3-year-old daughter.
She has no fear.
This trait can sometimes be scary because she has no problem trying to jump off the highest step or climb whatever is in front of her, but it’s also inspiring. She walks into a room or a playground full of kids and doesn’t think twice about being nervous or wondering what first impression she will make.
She introduces herself to kids she doesn’t know, plays with them and even asks them to help battle an imaginary monster she just saw. She is so excited to explore new places and discover new things. The only worry on my toddler’s mind is having fun and making new friends.
I, however, doubt basically every decision that I make. I overthink things before I do them, I get nervous when I walk into a room full of people I don’t know or go somewhere that I haven’t been before. I know that being nervous in some situations is normal, but if I learn to approach things without fear the way my toddler does, it would make things so much more enjoyable, and I see so much joy in all that she does.
She doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
If she hears music and wants to dance, she dances. If she feels like singing, she sings at the top of her lungs. It could happen anywhere, at home, at the movies, or at the grocery store, but if she wants to bust out in song, she does it and doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
If she feels like a princess for the day, she will dress like one from head to toe and run errands with me. She starts conversations with people at the store or at a drive-thru window. She is confident in her own skin.
Too often I have looked in the mirror before going into a room and second guessed how I looked or I’ve held back saying what I wanted to in fear of what others would think. I now skip down sidewalks, fly kites while wearing capes, do cartwheels in the front yard, sing a duet when and wherever asked and I haven’t cared one bit what anyone thinks.
She finds pleasure in small things.
I have a treat for her after school every day and she looks forward to the surprise. It could be anything from a sticker, pack of apples or a lollipop, it’s nothing big or anything that costs a lot of money, but it brings her so much excitement. She loves searching for dandelion weeds so she can make wishes, she loves when we put pillows on the floor and make a movie theater, and her face lights up while she tries to pop bubbles I’ve blown. So many small things bring her so much joy.
In our busy world, it is so easy to rush right through the day without noticing the little things. Seeing how much she appreciates all of those small things makes me so much more aware and thankful for them myself.
She is present.
I’ve caught myself trying to hurry her along on a walk around the neighborhood while she is picking up every stick she sees, examining every detail of the neighbor’s yard and trying not to step on cracks in the road. I rushed her into the car this morning as she was trying to look in the trees to find where the loud bird chirping was coming from. She notices details while I zoom right past them.
She teaches me to slow down and helps me realize that not every single second has to be rushed. Her presence in the present moment forces me to snap out of mommy auto-pilot and to literally stop and smell the roses.
She forgives easily.
Just the other night I had a total mom-brain moment, I’d probably go all out and say it was my worst one so far. I picked my little one up from school and got her ready for dance class. Instead of taking her straight to class, my hectic brain remembered that I needed to go to the drug store, so I thought I would be super mom and squeeze that into the short time I had before her class.
It was a huge mom-fail, because I lost track of time and completely missed her class. I cried in the car telling her that I was so sorry. You know what that sweet girl told me? She said, “Mommy, it’s okay. We will go to the next class and all of the kids will still be there.”
Seconds, it took her only seconds to forgive me. I’m so harsh to myself, when my daughter, the person I thought I hurt in this scatter-brained moment, forgave me only seconds after making a mistake. She was so quick to tell me it was okay and find the positive outlook. She lets me know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, and it’s a good reminder to have.
The innocence of a child is a magical thing. I watch her face as she tastes a food for the first time and listen to her amazement when she asks me what a word means that she hasn’t heard before.
Her confidence, her ability to be in the present and be thankful for the small things, her willingness to forgive easily, these are all traits that I admire and I’m learning from her. It’s funny to think that while I may be her role model to help learn as she grows, she’s my role model to become a better person.