I’ve been a parent for just under two years now… just shy of 730 days… or 17,520 hours. Those days, those hours, those minutes have been some of the most joyful, rewarding, challenging, demanding, satisfying, taxing and fulfilling moments in my life. It is in those moments where I have discovered what kind of parent I want to be for my children. It’s not always easy, but there is no other job in life as paramount as the job of nurturing and shaping our little ones. In my two short years as a mother I have found there are six words which define what kind of parent I want to be for my children.
PATIENCE: No one likes to feel rushed… including children. As a mother to a ::very busy:: toddler and newborn twins, I have struggled with this. I have felt my patience tested to the brim as I
patiently clinch my hands together while my toddler screams at the top of her lungs because I tried to help her buckle the car seat or because I insisted she hold my hand when we walk through a parking lot (God forbid!), or I picked the wrong color crayon for her. I have learned that there is no use in getting irritated… that only makes matters worse. Try to see things from their (young) perspective. Try to understand why they are unhappy. Let your toddler try to buckle the car seat and if they fail, offer to help. Let your toddler throw a temper tantrum when you are insisting they hold your hand. Yes, you may get some looks (some sympathetic and some not so kind), but it will pass and it will allow your child to express their emotions.
BEAUTY: I don’t want my daughter to think that it’s her outer appearance that matters. I want her to feel loved and cherished ALL the time. I want her to know that her beauty is more than skin deep. I strive to be intentional about not focusing on her (or my) appearance. Sure, I tell her she is pretty. I tell her that I like her ‘pretty dress’ or that her hair is ‘so pretty.’ But I also make a point to tell her that her soul is beautiful and that her laugh is music to my ears. Her smile is contagious and has the ability to light up a room. Her respect and love for all people and all animals shows an innocence and sweetness that I want her to hold on to forever. So when I see her first thing in the morning and when I tuck her in at night, I tell her that I love her for a million reasons (other than the fact that in my eyes she couldn’t be more beautiful).
GRATITUDE: Raising gracious children is important to me. Teach them to say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’. Insist they write thank you cards when they receive a gift or if someone has done something kind for them. Instill in them the joy of giving and teach them to be generous. Make cheerful cards for sick children in the hospital, take holiday cookies to residents in a nursing home, donate toys to those who are less fortunate. Let them see how lucky they are and in turn they will learn how to be grateful.
EXPLORE: The beauty of being a child is the ‘newness’ that each and every day presents. Every passing moment creates an opportunity. A chance to learn, explore and to experience something for the first time. When we go somewhere new, it can feel like unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning. One of the best parts of having children is to be able to see the world through their eyes. Try to take them somewhere they have never been before on a regular basis. Try to do this every week. Go to the zoo, go to a petting farm and feed the goats, pick fresh berries, explore a new park, check out the botanical gardens, the opportunities and seasons are endless.
MISTAKES: Let them be little. It’s okay to let your child fail. After all, isn’t that the best way to learn? And wouldn’t we all agree that we want our child to learn? Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting you put your child’s safety in danger. But it’s okay to encourage them to explore and to make mistakes and sometimes they will fall – just try to be there to pick them up, to build them back up and to know ‘it’s okay’. The enemy of ‘good‘ is ‘perfect.’ Perfection is an illusion and the only way for self-improvement is by taking risks and putting yourself out there and knowing it’s okay if you fail.
LOVE: Above all else, every child is a gift. Every child deserves to feel cherished and loved. Be intentional, show your love with hugs, kisses, cuddles, words and most importantly – show it with quality time and by sharing their excitement in the simple things. As the saying goes ‘Every day doesn’t have to be good… but there is good in every day.’ When you see the world through the eyes of your child and when you love your child unconditionally, it’s very simple to find joy in little moments.
Patience, Inner Beauty, Gratitude, Explore, Mistakes and Love. It is in these six simple words that I have been able to define the kind of mother I want to be to my children.