1. People matter – pay attention. My children notice everything. Now that Mikey is at the chatty age, he also loudly comments on everything. While this is frequently mortifying :P, it has been eye-opening. They see things I’m too distracted to notice – like the way the mother at the park was crying on the phone, or the way the elderly man at the store couldn’t push the cart over the curb alone. My children have made me more kind, more caring, more lenient because I now see the people around me through gentler eyes.
2. There’s really no need to rush. Take smaller steps. Speak more slowly. Take time to think before voicing opinions and making rules. What’s the hurry? We will watch that darn bulldozer at work for an hour if we feel like it. Life moves fast enough on its own. I don’t need to make it move any faster.
3. The sounds and sights of nature are endlessly exciting. The contrast of a new leaf versus a dry one; the sound of the bee moving pollen from flower to flower; the rush of the wind; the shapes the clouds make in the sky; the squirrels playing tag on the telephone wires… nothing is unimportant. Those flower petals aren’t just for decoration in the yard – they make beautiful shapes and patterns when you throw them in the pool. The sand isn’t just for building castles – it makes a SOUND when you squish it in between your fingers. If you push aside that patch of ivy, there’s a colony of bugs! There’s a whole magical world outside, and my children are sharing it with me, every day.
4. It’s ok to be quiet. Stop talking. Stop entertaining. Just be. They know I’m here. Every now and then they glance up from their play and look for my face. There’s no need to speak. Listen. My children say so much without using any words at all.
5. It’s ok to be sad (or angry, or frustrated, or tired…). Not everything has to be “fixed,” or distracted away. Sometimes people are hateful or hurtful and will cause us heartache. Sometimes we just need to ride out the “bad” emotions until they are gone, and there’s room for the happy ones to come back in. Those emotions, both good and bad, are what make us human. Hold onto the one with whom you feel safe and wait for the storm to pass. It won’t last forever. In a little while, everything will be better again.
6. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you’re going to fail. It’s important to try, to try really hard, and not give up too quickly. But maybe you need to ask for help, maybe you need to wait for a better time. Or maybe (and this one is so difficult), maybe you just can’t do it at all. There are other things you CAN do – embrace that fact, and cultivate those assets, those qualities.
7. The journey is what matters. Life is like a road trip – the fun is the ride itself! Don’t wish the time away. Don’t spend time waiting for the next thing – there’s something there right now! Enjoy it! It will be gone soon. And really, even when the time is rough, it will pass. Those days still matter, those moments together – you’ll never get them back. Each one counts – so much. So let’s hop in the car and have a picnic at the park, let’s jump in puddles and have an art-a-thon before breakfast, let’s build space ships in the living room, and eat cereal for dinner – let’s make happy memories together.
8. There is almost nothing so precious as honesty, and nothing so damaging as a lie. Honesty is underrated. I mean really – a “white” lie? Who came up with that? Children are always honest – until they are taught not to be. The deceptions of the adult world become glaringly obvious when contrasted with the guilelessness of children. Say what is true, not what you think I want to hear. Be kind, yes, but be honest – always.
9. Actions speak louder than words. Its importance is never more obvious than when children are watching. Love doesn’t just happen, love is taught. The experiences of the now and the actions they see displayed by the people they trust – this is what will shape my children’s hearts. “Do as I do”- and when I make a mistake, I will show them how to get up and try again. Their father and I will not just say our love, we will show it – in the way we raise them, in the kisses we share, in the sacrifices we make, in the laughter of our home.
So I will show you how to tie your shoes and say your prayers and all the while I will keep learning from you – from your innocence, your simplicity, your honesty, your love so freely given.
Come with me, my babies – what shall we learn today?
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