As I went for my morning walk after bringing Little One to the bus stop and after feeding the animals, I reflected on all the things I learned in time time on this planet.
There are so many things I’ve learned and am constantly learning. I’ve learned that sometimes the hardest decisions in life are the best at the time. I’ve learned that it’s good to trust, but sometimes people do not often have the best intentions. I’ve learned that we all make mistakes and I’ve also learned that when adversity strikes, it’s important to just pick yourself up, shake that dust off your shoulders and move on. Surprisingly, many of the most important lessons I have learned are things I learned from my daughter.
I sometimes wonder if as parents we actually learn more from our children than they do from us.
Of course, we are our children’s first teachers. We teach them how to sit, how to walk, how to use the potty, how to read and so much more. This said, I think our children teach us far more important things than anything we can ever teach them.
Sure, we teach our kids by example when it comes to being good people, how to support the community, how to live life with kindness and compassion, empathy and generosity. At the age of six, Little One’s moral compass is quite surprising.
Things I learned from my six year old
Love with all your heart
Parents know that there’s no love like the one a parent feels for their children. Having had an incredible (and challenging) journey to parenthood and having our little miracle, the love felt is overwhelming. So much so, that I sometimes feel my heart will burst.
The joys and hardships make us love with all our heart.
I admit that it’s not easy being a parent and Little One is a strong-willed, spirited, fiercely independent, quirky child, but she’s also an extremely compassionate, empathetic, loving, kind, intelligent, and funny child. She challenges me in so many ways each and every day. She challenges me to be a better person and to be a good role model. I’m not going to lie. She also challenges my patience. A lot.
Little One has taught me that to be a parent is to love with all your heart.
With all the deaths, sadness, cancer, health issues and challenges we and our loved ones experienced these past few years, I have had moments of feeling helpless. Hope hasn’t always been easy to find and Little One, perhaps because of her youth and inexperience (or alternately, maybe because she might be wise beyond her years), tells me, “Don’t worry, Mom. Everything is going to be okay”.
I was shocked at the conversation I had with Little One the other day.
Little One: Mom, do you believe in God?
Me: I do. Why? Do you?
LO: I believe.
Me: Why do you ask?
LO: I don’t know. I just wanted to know if God is real. Is He real?
Me: Well, what do you think?
LO: So, it’s up to me if He is real?
Me: I guess so. I think nobody can tell anyone what to believe in.
LO: I believe.
Little One and I were walking to the hospital to visit my aunt and Little One kept saying “Whatever happens. She will be okay. You just have to believe”. I was so surprised to hear these words from a six year old. I didn’t ask Little One to elaborate on whether she meant “You just have to believe that God has a plan” or “You just have to believe that she will be okay.” The bottom line is that if you have something to believe in, it helps carry you through the storm. If you have something to believe in, it gives you strength to keep going. Whether it be fighting a battle with cancer or a challenging situation, we all need something to believe in. If you have this, then you have hope. This is probably the first time I’ve written about religion on the blog. I haven’t done this because I don’t want to, but I know that many of my friends come from different denominations and faiths, and some do not believe in God at all. I respect that.
Nothing lasts forever
Nothing lasts forever. Relationships sometimes fade away with time, a bad day will come and go, and the disagreement you had with your best friend/partner/family member/co-worker/classmate/neighbour/whomever will eventually sort itself out…or not. Time is short. Life is short. Nothing lasts forever, whether it’s a hardship you are facing or the natural high you are riding. Well, that’s not entirely true. All things in life are temporary except for one thing. Love. Not romantic love, but a deeper kind of love. We all know that romantic love may come and go. People fall out of love all the time. Just think about the first serious relationship you were in. Some teenage loves last a lifetime, but many of us have had a few relationships before finding or life partners.
I’m talking about the love we feel for those most important to us. I believe even after our loved ones die, that love is carried with us forever. The way we made others feel lives on long after death.
The other morning, I was in a mad rush to get Little One ready and out the door for school. Of course, she needed something but couldn’t find it. We searched everywhere, only to find it in the basement of all places. Going down to the basement upset me because I looked around and even after nearly seven years, the basement remains unfinished. I muttered something under my breath, but Little One heard me.
She looked at me and said, “Mom, you should just be thankful for what you have.”
A wave of happiness came over me, knowing that Little One has been listening to me all this time about being thankful for what we have. Of course, the first feeling I had after hearing her words were more of embarrassment. I was embarrassed that I showed that side of not being thankful or grateful for what we do have.
I remember crying one day at the prospect of there perhaps not being a sibling in Little One’s life. She so desperately wanted a baby sister. For Christmas for the past two or three years, she has been asking for a baby sister. Not a baby brother. A sister.
Because of my PCOS, it’s a miracle that Little One is even here. Because of my PCOS, it’s possible that Little One may end up an only child. Also, the fact that I am turning forty a week before Christmas has been a bit of a bummer when it comes to the idea of adding to our family. I know many women have babies in their forties, but with the health concerns and the scary experience we had with Little One being born at 28 weeks, I am not sure if I want to go through that again. I also realize adoption is an option, but this past year has shown me that maybe one is enough. I’ve learned that I’m happy with just one. I have enough with just one. I can provide more than adequately for just one. I can give so many experiences (travel, quality time, etc) to just one. Maybe, just maybe, one is enough.
Savour the moments
Savour the moments because that’s what they are — Moments. They’re brief moments in time. Instead of obsessing about Little One’s messy room or lost shoes or toys destroyed because she left them out and the puppy ruined them, I need to take a step back and rethink my approach. Yes, it’s important for Little One to assume responsibility for her actions and her things, but it’s not worth all the stress. Turn these into teachable experiences and if I focus on the lesson instead of what has been done, we may both be able to be happier. I’ve found myself to be nagging Little One and Hubby a lot these days. To be honest, I don’t like hearing myself nag. Now if they’d only listen the first time, I wouldn’t have to repeat myself! Ha! In all seriousness, this is something I’m working on and I know that when I am stressed, every little thing just adds to my less than jovial mood when normally I’m cheerful.
When it comes to savouring moments, I don’t know why I am obsessed with capturing moments for posterity. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m obsessed with Instagramming our moments and experiences.
Not too long ago, Little One and I went on a road trip with her friend and her friend’s mother. We had to leave very early in the morning and as we drove up the highway, the sunrise was the most beautiful I had ever seen it. Pinks and oranges filled the sky and the mist was incredible over the rolling countryside. It was like that moment in Stand By Me when Gordy sees the deer. It was something so incredible and poignant, but perhaps not meant to be shared with everyone.
Little One and I were in awe of the beauty before our eyes and I said, “Awww! I wish I could take a photo of this, but I can’t because I’m driving!”
To my surprise, Little One said, “Mommy, just take a picture of it in your head. Remember what it looks like…in your memory.”
Sometimes that kid says things that leave a lasting impression and always when I least expect it.
She’s right. Moments are meant to be savoured — in our memories. In stopping to take the photo, sometimes we miss the moment.