Mother’s Day is around the corner, which gets a lot of us thinking about our mothers and what they have taught us. As mothers, we teach constantly. We teach big life lessons – how to be kind; how to respect yourself. We teach little things that really matter – look both ways before crossing the street; wipe thoroughly (for everyone’s sake). We teach by doing. We teach by our words. We teach by example. It is constant.
But this transfer of knowledge is not one-sided. My kids have taught me so much about how to live life well
- Embrace “no.” There is power in the word. Know when to use it.
- Go for the easy laugh sometimes. An example, courtesy of my son:
Son: Knock knock.
Me: Who’s there?
Me: Banana who?
May not make you think or challenge your view of the world, but just try to come up with a funnier ending to that joke. I’m telling you, guys. Poop is funny.
- Bang stuff. Being loud is fun. As is banging.
- Hug freely. It just feels good.
- Sing. We are a veritable rock opera in our house. A rock opera performed by incredibly untalented people about completely banal tasks. “Shoes shoes shoes and socks; shoes shoes shoes and socks; I like to put on my socks and the next thing I do is put on my shoes.” This is the kind of magic happening with our singing. Singing doesn’t need to be on key. It doesn’t need to make sense. Lyrics can and should be replaced with “poop,” “pee,” and “toilet” (see above). Just sing. It makes the time go faster, avoids frustration and can be really funny.
- Know when to ask for help. If you ask, you usually get it. And you can save yourself a lot of frustration.
- It’s okay to change your mind. Just hypothetically, suppose egg noodles are your favorite food. You want them every night for dinner. When anything else is presented for dinner, you may even cry a little. Sometimes, you may cry a lot. And then one day you decide you hate egg noodles. (Again, totally hypothetical here. This happened with tri-color pasta in our house, not egg noodles. Egg noodles are still going strong. At least as of yesterday.) But the lesson here is that things change. You don’t need to keep doing something just because you used to do it.
- Run hard. Feel the pavement solid under your feet. Let the wind mess up your hair. Run so fast you feel like you may fall down. Don’t hold back anything.
- Bounce back. Cuts heal. Bruised egos mend. Fights resolve. Try not to dwell on it. Move past the pain and on to better things.
- Believe in the power of the Band-Aid. It has healing properties.
- There’s still a lot to learn. Kids make mistakes all the time. Calling a pogo stick a hobo stick; a pickup truck a hiccup truck. Language is hard! Figuring out the world is hard! Don’t be embarrassed when you get something wrong. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know.
- Enjoy food. There is such a small window when you can really, truly love food unthinkingly. When is the last time you completely, 100 percent enjoyed an ice cream without having at least a fleeting thought that it is full of fat and calories and probably not the best food choice? When my kids get ice cream, it is pure, unabashed joy. It’s a special treat, and it is savored.
- Love your body. Appreciate how strong it is. Tell people how strong it is. Love all you have done with it. Look forward to what you will be able to do if you keep trying.
- Wear comfortable pants. Truth be told, I knew this rule going into parenthood, but it bears repeating.
What have your kids taught you?