Becoming a mom is the single greatest gift I’ve ever been given. It has saved my life quite literally and given me a purpose on this earth. Sometimes I have moments where I realize I am responsible for 3 lives and it overwhelms me because I don’t feel qualified for such a calling. Yet, God chose me to be their mother. He trusts me with their lives and their souls this side of heaven. Wow, that’s humbling! I am inspired by my children and find new layers of myself because of them each day. As I watch my boys grow, learn and become little people of the world, I am constantly amazed that while I’m trying to teach them about life, they are the ones teaching me how to live.
I wanted to share some of what I am learning through this gift of motherhood and a few things my little men teach me on a daily basis. This list is in no particular order and is a work in progress that will likely grow infinitely until the day I die, but here are some of the highlights so far.
~”I do it myself!” Figure things out for yourself if you can.
The boys have entered The Two’s full force. One aspect of the two’s is that they want to do everything by themself. If I do something for them that they wanted to do on their own, there is usually a big fit thrown and then they re-do whatever the thing was while saying firmly, “I do it myself mom!” This independent stage is a blast, let me just say! ☺ Its adorable to watch them figure things out on their own and when they succeed my mommy heart is overjoyed and the sense of pride in their eyes is priceless. Although things sometimes would be easier, cleaner, smoother, and faster if I did it for them, they’d never learn to do things on their own if I continued to step in. We all have to learn to do things on our own in order to succeed in life, so even if it’s a harder route involving some tantrums and meltdowns, independence is a virtue.
~”I need help!” Ask for help when you need it.
Although it’s important to find and gain independence in the world and to learn to succeed on our own, it’s equally important to know when to ask for help. If the boys’attempts have failed, they eventually get frustrated enough to say, “Mommy I need help.” There’s no shame in needing help sometimes. As much as I want to think I can do everything on my own, I need help. I need lots of help, from lots of sources, including God, family and friends. And that’s okay.
~”Hold me mom.” Sometimes we need to be held.
When my boys ask to be held, within reason, I try to hold them. The days of them wanting to be held and me being able to hold them are finite. Now, there’s times where I physically can’t do it and that’s ok too; but if it’s reasonable and at all possible, I’m going to hold my babies. I often think, “If I could be held right now, I would too.” I think no matter how old we get there are always times when we just need to be held. We won’t always have our mom able to literally hold us, and we may not even have people around to physically embrace us, but I am comforted in knowing we are always held in the heart of our families and in God’s hands. And even if they are bigger than me, I will always try to hold my boys, especially when they ask.
I also love this desire to be held from my boys because it demonstrates a willingness to be comforted. It’s a surrender to self will and a statement of need. Kids are not afraid of this necessity like adults are. If they need to be held, they say it.
~”Mom, I hold you.” Sometimes even moms need to be held.
As I said in the previous point, we all need to be held sometimes. Occasionally my boys will come to me and instead of asking me to hold them, they will tell me they’re going to hold me. Its a heart melter every time. No matter how old I get, how much responsibility I have, how many children or grandchildren I end up with, I will always be human and have a desire and a need to be comforted, loved and held. All of us will.
What a blessing that we will forever have a heavenly father who holds us in His hands and protects us with His angels.
~”I’m excited/happy/sad.” Don’t be afraid to feel.
Kids do not have the emotional filters adults have. They don’t have shame attached to certain feelings and emotions. They don’t feel they have to be strong 100% of the time and therefore, they don’t feel the need to lie about their feelings and say, “I’m fine,” if they’re not. They say what they feel, they scream if they want to, they laugh when things are funny, they cry when they’re sad. Even if it’s not done in a socially acceptable manner, kids are really good at letting you know what they’re feeling and I think we can learn a lot from that.
~”Let’s dance mom!” Live in the moment.
Kids are the best at living in the moments they’re given, because it’s all they really have. They’re not consumed with future worries and past mistakes. They don’t care what they look like and what other people think. They laugh and play, dance and sing, whenever and wherever they want, unapologetically. And they want us to join in too.
~”I need a time out.” Take time for yourself if you need it.
I use time outs as a form of discipline but what it really is at its core is a chance to take time away, calm down, regroup, and start over. There are times where the warning shot of a time out when I say, “Do you need a time out?” is surprisingly welcomed by the boys. They will sometimes say, “yes,” and then put themselves in the time out chair. Its shocking and precious, but more than that I think it’s a demonstration of our innate need to have time to ourselves. It also represents our own insight into ourselves and the ability to know when we are getting a little too far out of line and need some readjustment. I often take a time out with them and after the 2 minutes is up, we all come back much more refreshed and ready to begin again.
~”I need a nap/ I ready to go night night.” Get good sleep.
Adults don’t get enough sleep. We’re busy. We’re stretched too thin. We’re too connected and we can’t shut down. Kids aren’t like that. Yes, they fight bedtime sometimes; and no, they don’t always love taking a nap. But they know when they’re tired and need rest, and they get it. Even if they pass out on the floor or in their chair with a plate of food in their face, they sleep when they need to. When kids get over tired, just like adults, they get cranky and whiny and not very fun to be around. They take a little nap and they’re a whole new child. Let us not underestimate the power of good sleep.
~”That’s funny!!!” Smile and laugh often, even at the stupid things.
My boys have the silliest sense of humor and laugh at the dumbest things sometimes. But their laughs are infectious and their sweet giggles can instantly change the mood of the house. Laughter truly is the best medicine, and with this set of nuggets, we are well medicated. 😉
~”Here you go brother.” Share-even if you don’t really want to initially.
We live in a self absorbed, self serving society. People are inherently selfish. We have to learn to share, and it starts early. The boys are usually pretty good about sharing and even do it without being asked much of the time. They’re normal 2 year olds though so we have our moments. I think it extends out beyond learning to share a toy, and translates into how you view the world and live your life. As children, it’s about sharing toys and the last bag of crackers. As adults, it’s about sharing our hearts, our time, our energy, our resources. We learn to share ourselves. We could all be better sharers and givers, and while I’m reminding my boys to share, it reminds me to do the same. Although kids at times balk on the whole sharing phenomena, I notice they also have a natural desire to share and take care of others. Somewhere along the way that seems to get lost, so I pray I can foster it to bloom more in my boys as they get older, as well as myself.
~”I’m a silly mess!” Get dirty, color outside the lines, wear shoes that don’t match your outfit, live a colorful life.
Life doesn’t always fit into the sweet, organized little box we want it to fit in. Real life is messy. Kids know how to have fun despite messiness, and somehow, there’s beauty all around them. Sometimes, it’s when we go way outside the lines and get really messy that the most beautiful things are created. Kids show us that it’s ok to get messy, and it’s ok to be messy. Life with boys is basically one continuously unfolding mess. There is no perfect, there is no neat, there is no organized…and it’s wonderful!
~”Hug please!” Snuggle and hug each other as often as possible.
This one is simple. You just can’t go wrong with snuggles and hugs!
~”What’s that?” Ask questions and always be teachable.
We are all just here doing our best and trying to figure this thing out. We don’t know all the answers; but without the questions, we have no chance at an answer. The boys are entering the 20 questions an hour stage and I love how curious their brains are. I won’t be able to answer all their questions at some point, but I certainly hope they’ll always ask. Asking questions and staying open to answers is how we learn and grow, and that’s a life long process.
~”I sorry.” Apologize and then move on.
I started teaching the boys very early on to apologize if they hurt someone or made a mistake. One of the hardest things to do in life is to own our mistakes and apologize for them. It takes humility as well as strength to own up to our actions. What I love about how children do it is that whatever the offense was, they apologize, hug, kiss and then move on instantly. They don’t hold grudges and build resentments. They are able to literally forgive and forget. As we get older, the forgive part is hard but doable, while the forgetting is physically impossible. Matthew 6: 14 says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Children seem to get this much better than adults, and although it’s not as simple as we get older, I think we can learn a lot from the youthful approach.
~”Stop it brother!” Respect boundaries, limits and rules.
Part of being a parent is establishing boundaries and limits for your children. Teaching them not only personal boundaries, but also societal boundaries. Showing them how to have respect for others, themselves, and the world around them. Children crave limits and they expect us to set them. When we don’t, we do them a huge disservice, both as children and as budding adults. It’s ok to say no to our children, and it’s ok for them to voice their objection of things as well.
~”Mommy, I help you.” Be a helper.
Kids want to please their parents and they enjoy helping out. My boys love helping me with laundry, dishes, sweeping, shopping, etc. It gives them a sense of independence and pride in themselves and overall satisfaction knowing they’ve been so helpful. It build a a sense of purpose. It breeds cooperative, altruistic, selfless souls and it’s a beautiful thing. You know the saying, “Its better to give than to receive.” Helping and giving to others is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes us feel good about ourselves. This transcends childhood and creates good adults. I think we could all use to help each other a little more willingly. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
~Ask for what you need.
Just as with asking for help, kids are able, sometimes too able, to ask for exactly what they need and want. My boys are relentless at times about asking me for things. While it can be exhausting, it’s how they get their needs met. As adults, we often deny our own needs or don’t ask for what we need due to fear of rejection. We either try to do it ourselves or we suffer in silence. Sometimes you just have to ask for what you want.
~Don’t judge yourself (or others). Be yourself.
Kids are not afraid to live their lives and be themselves. They don’t judge every move they make, questioning every little detail. They don’t condemn each other for their mistakes or differences. They just live. They think everyone is their friend and they’re just basically happy to be here. Let’s be more like that!
~”I did it!” Celebrate your accomplishments, even the small ones.
No matter what it is, I cheer for everything my boys do. I tell them they did a good job when they accomplish something and as a result, they cheer for themselves as well. I LOVE this. I don’t think we celebrate ourselves enough. We spend a lot of time hating ourselves and living in guilt and shame over what we aren’t rather than celebrating what we are. Kids are who have it right in this department. We willingly and delightfully cheer for our children. Why not do it for ourselves sometimes too?
~”Good job mom!” Encourage each other.
I notice adults are not as apt to encourage one another as kids are. Rather we tend to compare ourselves to each other and then secretly condemn one another. We hold out praise and offer judgment in its place. We think that giving someone else a compliment somehow takes something away from us. In reality, it can only add. My boys are always saying, “Good job mom,” when I do even the littlest thing for them. Its amazing! They motivate each other with a “Good job! You did it brother!” It’s like music to my ears. Such a better sound than fighting and being mean to each other. Let’s all try it!
~Sometimes you don’t get your way.
Sadly, just because you want something doesn’t mean you get it. As a parent we have to teach the hard lessons that you don’t always get your way. Its a part if life. We don’t like it but we have to learn to live with it. We will survive, but the struggle is real.
~”Please!?” Good manners go a long way.
I’m very proud of my boys’ good manners and we work hard on them. Now it’s a habit and they almost always say please and thank you. There’s just nothing better than a polite child…except a polite adult.
~Treats are more special when they don’t happen everyday.
If we indulge in sweets and treats every single day, they’re no longer treats. Just because we are adults and can have treats whenever we want them doesn’t mean we should do it. Keep it special.
~Respect each other’s differences.
Although the boys are identical and I dress them alike all the time, they’re different. I want them yo celebrate and respect their differences, as well as the differences of those around them. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made, and we are all different and unique for a purpose. Be yourself.
~Love your siblings and appreciate them as a forever friend.
Nothing is better than family. Cherish your siblings and foster those bonds as much as possible. They are your friends for life.
~Size doesn’t equate to significance.
The smallest people in my life take up the most space in my heart. You do not have to be big or famous to be important.
~”Mom, watch me!” Pay attention and truly seeeach other.
Since the boys were a few months old I point to them and say, “I see you!” They do it back and now, they say, “watch me mom!” before they do something and I excitedly say, “I see you!” We all want to be seen, validated, and confirmed as worthy. Thankfully, even if no one else on earth does this for us, God does. He always sees us and calls us worthy. His daddy heart bursts every time we look to Him and ask Him to watch us; and no matter how small, He always says excitedly, “I see you!!!”
~”Catch the light!” Pursue God, truth and beauty always.
When I take the boys picture and the flash goes off, they always say, “Catch the light!” I love this and it reminds me who is the true light and that we should always seek Him. I have also prayed with the boys every night since they were about 18 months old. I want them to be prayers and to always know that God is where all truth and beauty comes from, that everything God comes from God, and that we must seek Him always.
~”I yub uo!” Say I love you as often as possible.
This is one needs no explanation.
I could probably go on forever with this, but I’ll stop there. Thanks for reading this long list. I pray we all learn from the beautiful teachers we have been gifted through our children and that we live our lives with child-like faith and unfiltered openness.
“Every child born into the world is a new thought of God, an ever fresh and radiant possibility.” Kate Douglas Wiggin