10 Surprising Things Your Kids Can Teach You About Life
Motherhood is a wild ride and arguably the most transformative experience in a woman’s life. Growing another human in our womb for nine months and the physical changes to our bodies are only the very beginning of the gradual unfolding and blossoming of a first-time mother. Although our role is to care for, love, and teach our children, they are the real educators, showing us what life is really about with their pure hearts and innocent wisdom.
Life is busy, and most of us have an unhealthy addiction to speed—we want everything now. The world is always trying to move faster, achieve things quicker, and forever trying to "get ahead" (whatever that means). We race each other to the finish line, but no one really knows what the prize is; We just don’t want to be left behind. Children live only in the moment, so they understand much better than we do that life is a journey, not a destination, that joy is found in the now.
Obviously the day-to-day realities of life require us to be organised and efficient during certain times of the day (morning rush and school drop-off, anyone?), but don’t fall into the trap of rushing through life and forgetting to enjoy it. Find time in the day to sit in the sun and feel the warmth, spend more time in nature and less time cleaning, take a moment to enjoy life, and be present, because that is the real prize.
The other afternoon, my boys wanted to go for a swim at the beach after kindergarten. There was a thunderstorm brewing and I wanted to get them home for their bath and dinner, so I said, "OK, but let’s be quick." We ran down to the shore and it started to rain, so the boys stripped off their clothes and ran naked into the water, squealing in delight. Among the squeals, bare bums, warm rain, and ocean, I forgot about all the things I was supposed to be doing and joined them (with my swimsuit on, of course). That evening we swam underneath a rainbow that framed our beach and stayed in the ocean until the sun set and the moon was high in the sky. If I had had my way, we would have had a very ordinary afternoon, but lucky for me, my boys had a better idea.
How could you ever put into words the contentment you feel being home on a Friday night with your family, eating homemade pizza, and watching superhero movies? Or a morning at the beach with fresh fruit, sunshine, and saltwater? You don’t need much for a happy life, and children show you that the magic is found within the everyday moments. Don’t overcomplicate it.
I'm saying that too many Friday nights spent at home watching superhero movies can make a girl crazy, wishing for a bottle of champagne, her best friends, and a table to dance on… You’ve gotta mix it up. Same goes for motherhood: Achieving balance is a never-ending slow dance with life. You’ll probably never get everything flowing smoothly at once (If you do, please tell me your secrets). So just try to keep it flowing in all directions, and adjust when it is too much of something and not enough of another.
To save yourself a lot of frustration, two letter-A words should become your new mantra: accept and adapt. Situations change hourly, and children need different things from you daily; The only thing you can ever rely on is change. My children have taught me that it’s best to ebb and flow with life and what it throws at you, instead of pushing against it.
Kids want to make each and every day count. They want to wear their best clothes, eat their favourite food, fit as much into the day as they can, and have as much fun as possible. We could certainly take a leaf out of their book. So wear your best clothes, eat good food, burn your favourite candles, play good music, drink fine wine, explore, and be adventurous… Life is as colourful as you make it.
The sooner you accept that you are not perfect and that you will never be a perfect mother, the better. We go into motherhood almost completely clueless (no book or well-meaning advice can prepare you). We can say wild statements about what sort of mother we will be, either to other people or privately to ourselves, and in the process, we place some very high standards on our shoulders. Motherhood is a bumpy ride, and you will make many mistakes and learn tough life lessons, so be kind to yourself. Laugh at your mistakes, be honest with yourself, have an open mind, and embrace your imperfections. Imperfection is so much more beautiful anyway.
Although we are basically thrown into motherhood without any experience or real-life knowledge, Mother Nature does equip us with the most important tool of all: our instincts. You can feel what is right for your family and what feels wrong. The hardest part is learning how to drown out the rest and connect with that feeling, but once you do, it will never steer you wrong.
My own mother always told me that when you become a mother, you become a lioness, fiercely protective of her cubs, and she is so right. Although you feel so vulnerable because of your love for them, you also grow capable of great strength, sacrifice, courage, power, and an unconditional love that could move mountains, I am sure of it.
Learning how to give (and receive) unconditional love from another human being is the single most important lesson and most treasured gift you could ever receive.
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