Friday, February 28, 2014
How we love our children teaches them how to love others. Wow.
I'll give you a moment to take that in.
That quote is a reminder of what an awesome power and privilege it is to be in charge of these tiny beings. As a mother, our job is not just to keep our children fed, clothed and safe (although to be honest it feels as though that's all I can manage in a day....but I digress), it's also to teach them the ways of the world, how to treat people and interact with others, how to value themselves, overcome obstacles and become strong, independent individuals and on and on. When you think about it though....assuming that basic needs are met.....it's kind of inevitable that that our babies will grow into adults. It just happens. But the question is.....what kind of adult will they be? Will they be a contributing member of society? Will they be loving and respectful of all people? Will they find their passion? Be successful? There are so many unknowns and so much of life that we have no control over. It starts to feel pretty overwhelming and it's hard to know where to start!
I have a long list of qualities I would love for Alexis to have; intelligent, ambitious, self-confident and independent, but above all else I want her to be kind, thoughtful and loving.
"Love spreads. By loving our children we are weaving threads of love into the fabric of the world" (page 38 of Deliberate Motherhood)
I just think that's such a beautiful sentiment. It's a reminder that children learn what they live and we are teaching them everyday how to treat people by how we treat them and how we interact with others when they are watching. They will value themselves if we value them. They learn how to respond to adversity through how they see it dealt with by those around them. Although there is so much to think about and tons of decisions to make with regard to parenting, the most important thing we can do is to lead by example and in moments of challenge or indecision let love guide us through and remember that these little ones are always watching!!
So this really got me thinking......if I want Alexis to be kind, thoughtful and loving I need to look to myself and see if I am modeling those things for her. It is becoming pretty apparent in our house that Alexis hears everything and is learning so much just by observing what and who is surrounding her. It's really a time that I am starting to see a lot of her Daddy and I in her. When we leave the house she says 'right-right'....her version of how I say 'all-riiiight, let's go' before we walk out the door. She is starting to play pretend and wraps up her bear and rocks her to sleep just like her Daddy rocks her. She 'reads' to her monkey and bear all the time. She cleans when I clean, sets the table while I am making dinner and gets her colouring out when I am writing or on the computer. Knowing this has helped motivate me to put a lot more thought into how I speak to her, how I react to certain situations, how Ty and I interact with each other, but most of all I am trying to respond with love, even when it's not my first instinct. Have I mentioned that Alexis has also been asserting her independence more and more lately......aka typical toddler behaviours such as saying no, running away when called, touching exactly what you just asked her not to while laughing....good times. These are the times where it's really difficult to respond with love, when all I want to do is scream "Uggghhh....are you kidding me? Did you seriously touch my phone again? Oh...and not only did you touch it but you also disabled it. Great. Awesome. Way to go." Or "Really Alexis? Really? I turn around for 3 seconds and you colour on the fridge when 3.5 seconds before that I said remember, 'crayons are for paper only'. Did you miss that?"
And yes, I admit these are exact examples and no these were not inside thoughts. But most of the time, I can keep these thoughts to myself and take a moment to remember that she is 20 months old. And yes there will be ups and downs, but I can't control her.....I can only influence her and whatever I do in this moment is just another way I am teaching her by example how to respond in any given situation....for good or for bad. Obviously sometimes I am not proud of how I deal with certain situations (see above examples) but other times on those evenings when she is driving me crazy and I am trying to get dinner ready, instead of getting frustrated and yelling I put on some music and we have a dance party in the kitchen. In these moments, I feel like I am able to let go of the to do list and truly just live in the moment. One of my favourite quotes in the book is this;
'Love happens in the present and is hidden in the moments'
I often forget to find love in the minutiae of the everyday routines. I forget that it's those little moments like dancing together in the kitchen that I want Alexis to remember, not being yelled at for touching every. little. thing. she's not supposed to while I am distracted by something else and really all she really wants is me. I don't want to be too busy with life to miss the sweet things Alexis does like kissing my toe better after I stubbed it or pretending to pack Ty a lunch (noodles, cheese, a smoothie and chocolate...in case you were wondering). It is remembering these moments that will help carry us through the terrible twos and bedtime battles to curfews and teenage rebellion and beyond. Love will renew us if we let it. I don't need to get it right all of the time. I just want to respond more with love than out of frustration. I don't want to show Alexis that anything is more important than her feeling our love. Unconditionally. Consistently. Without question. Always.
That is my goal and my reason for being. Children learn what they live and I hope Alexis learns from me that love should be the motivation and the driving force in all that you do. Because as cheesy as it may sound.....what the world needs now is love....sweet love.