Honor each step, whether it is a baby step, or a huge leap.
Many parents will say that their children have taught them a great deal about life.
Prior to the birth of my daughter, I certainly believed the expression, yet didn't realize its full impact. Before I was a full-time, stay-at-home mother, I was a teacher and a professor, so I understood the profound impact a child or a student of any age could have on another adult.
My daughter isn't quite 10 months old as I sit here typing today, and already I can discern the amazing influence she has had on my learning. Of the many lessons Eve has taught me over the last nine months, I would like to share four with you. I look forward to learning much more from Eve as she grows.
Lesson One - If you are a list-maker, you can continue to make those lists, but the list never ends.
I'll admit it-I have always been a list maker. I love little sticky notes and pads of lined paper, just waiting to be filled with life's milestones. Then, I had my daughter... and she has more deeply reminded me of what I kind of already knew...that milestones don't follow pretty patterns, and life doesn't have a checklist.
While I cannot deny the satisfaction of checking off every single item from a to-do list, I now see on a richer level that the list never ends.
Life is a cycle. Instead of making list after list, I now see that roles and duties don't end... they just lead to further, sometimes more intense or complex roles and duties.
Whether it is in our careers or in our parenting, the journey doesn't end; one day, one moment, simply leads to the next and provides us with the wisdom to be successful.
For example, as a professor, just when I thought I had implemented a goal, I realized I wasn't truly finished, because that goal just lead to other, perhaps more fulfilling endeavors. As a mother, no two days and no two hurdles are the same-sure, one lends itself to another, such as the pains of teething or helping baby learn to fall asleep, yet another joy and another challenge is surely just around the corner!
Lesson Two - Honor each step, savor the moment.
As a teacher, I would say, "Celebrate each of your students' milestones. What may not seem like a big deal to you, is a huge success to that child."
I have also always been an advocate of children doing things in their own time. Most things we do in life follow a developmental pattern or continuum. Whether it is crawling, walking, talking, or learning to read, we all reach various milestones when we are ready.
Even though I knew all of this and used to preach it for a living, several weeks ago when Eve still wasn't crawling yet, I was secretly worried. I didn't want to admit it out loud, though. Then of course, practically overnight, just before her 9- month "luna-versary," Eve crawled.
A couple of weeks ago, I watched with tear-streaked eyes as she crawled to me as I sat at the breakfast table. It wasn't so long ago that I had to carry her to the table, and now she crawls to me.
Before I know it, she will be running to me at the table, and then dancing and jumping around the table.
There are many morals to this story, but here are a couple of my favorites.
First, savor the moment, whatever you are doing in life.
Treasure each and every moment, and soak it in. These moments are fleeting--even the tough ones. My other reminder in this is to honor each step, whether it is a baby step, or a huge leap.
Lesson Three - Eating.
Like so many American women, sadly, I have struggled with food and my weight for much of my life.
Before I had Eve, I did a tremendous amount of soul-searching about my issues surrounding food, which has been beneficial on many levels, especially because I never wanted to pass along my previously unhealthy eating habits to her.
Eve has reminded me of essential lessons when it comes to food and eating. Many Americans need these reminders. In her innocence, Eve is the perfect role model of how to eat graciously. For example:
- Eve eats when she's hungry.
- Eve stops eating when she is full.
- Eve eats what she truly wants.
- Eve is mesmerized by her food and certainly doesn't consume it mindlessly.
- Eve gets excited at mealtime, and finds joy in the smallest details, such as the foods' textures.
- Eve eats at mealtimes and shows little or no interest in between-meal snacks.
- Eve prefers fresh food and dislikes processed products.
In my efforts as a mother, I examine all of Eve's food, prepare most of it at home, and I re-examine what food is truly nourishing versus those items that are empty calories.
Now, those are some powerful reminders about not just one's approach to food, but also one's approach to life!
Lesson Four - Love thyself.
Like most infants, Eve loves to look at herself in the mirror. I mean--she LOVES herself!
How do we even get away from that, anyway?! By the time most of us reach adolescence and adulthood, we are so good at hating ourselves and we are so entrenched in self-loathing.
American women are really hard on one another, and we bond through self-deprecation. How and why do we get away from loving ourselves?
Let's take a lesson from Eve and all other babies out there who love to look at themselves in the mirror. Let's cherish what is sacred about each of our reflections.
As I stare at Eve throughout the day, or especially as I put her to sleep at night, I love to study her hands and feet. They are growing at such a steady rate--I am astonished.
While her hands and feet are still delicate and tiny, they are much bigger than 10 months ago when she was born. Eve's hands and feet have no calluses, no bruises, no scars. One day - they will.
Everyday I stare at her hands and feet, and as crazy as it sounds - I honor them, and wonder about them. They are perfect and tiny and capable of anything. In my head, I ask Eve:
"Where will your feet take you? Will you walk on foreign lands? Will you dance with joy? Will you walk for a social cause? Always respect and honor your feet as I do now. Likewise, I stare at your hands and wonder--what will you hold with these hands? What will you write? Whose hands will you hold? Will you play a musical instrument? Will you paint? Will you change the world with these hands? Always respect and honor your hands as I do now. You can do anything with these hands and feet, and they should always be treated with the utmost respect. As I kiss these tiny hands and feet today, my mind wanders and I look forward to watching you grow into who you choose to become."
Remember that every parent has a dream for his/her child. Just as we hold joy and awe in our hearts for babies, we must hold that same peace and inspiration for ourselves as adults.
Just as you would never give up on the pure hopes you have for a child, don't give up on your own aspirations.
Remember to love yourself, just as Eve loves herself reflected in the mirror.