What My Kids Have Taught Me

So I have to admit to something.  Despite my best efforts to be laid back and take things in stride, I sometimes find myself overanalyzing the things that I do.  My husband and I both.  We sit and think about all of the bad things that we’re teaching our kids inadvertently.  Like when we’re having a bad day and are impatient with them, or when we’re stressed and yell at them for something that really isn’t that big of a deal.  Don’t get me wrong… we overanalyze the good things too (we’re equal opportunity neurotics).  But we do praise ourselves – especially in those most trying of moments where we remained composed and tranquil despite a symphony of whininess and an onslaught of thrown broccoli.
The reason I bring this up is because I was reflecting today on some of those things we’re doing right as parents and some of the things that aren’t working.  I want to encourage the continuation of that positive behavior, and change what isn’t benefitting anyone.  I guess the mental health counselor in me (from my pre-mommy days) still comes out sometimes.  But this morning, as I was brushing my teeth, I started thinking about something different… what are my kids teaching me?  I mean I look back at the myriad of ways my husband and I have grown as parents over the last three years, how our marriage has evolved, how we’ve matured as people, and how our family has coalesced into a strong and cohesive unit.  And a lot of that can be attributed to some of the things those little tykes show us every day. Some of these lessons include:
Stop And Smell The Roses (Literally)

I’m not sure what it is, but I always feel like I’m in a rush. “I need to get you in the car now!”… “You need to finish eating so we can get home!”… “Hurry up and put your shoes on!”  But sometimes I have to ask myself…Why?? Why am I in such a hurry?? As Butter Cheeks and I were walking to Target the other day I noticed myself rushing him as he stopped to touch a plant. I pulled on his hand to get him into the store and he looked up at me and said “No mommy – flower.”  It hit me like a ton of bricks:  I NEED TO CHILL OUT.  Why am I going to ruin this beautiful moment?  Why am I going to rush my son in and out of a store when all he wants to do is relax and appreciate the little bit of beauty that he found amid the concrete jungle surrounding him?  What an incredible moment my little one just shared with me. And so I took that second to appreciate my surroundings too.  Blood pressure immediately lowered.  But even more importantly, Butter Cheeks and I had a chance to bond, enjoy a lot of laughs, and created some beautiful memories.
Have an Over-Emotional Moment

Let’s be clear… I don’t want more unwarranted tears in my house.  I’m not saying it’s OK to be a whiner or to overreact. But you know what?  If Butter Cheeks has stolen Flash’s favorite car for the tenth time today, and it’s raining outside so we can’t go to the park like I promised him yesterday, and then I turn the TV off in a pivotal moment of Sesame Street, I can understand why he would need a moment to cry it out for a minute.  God knows I spend all day trying to be strong for the rest of my family, and that isn’t always an easy task – particularly since I lost my mom.  But my point is, we don’t always have to hold it all in.  Crying doesn’t automatically make you a “baby” or an “overemotional bag of hormones.” So if accidentally breaking his sixth crayon in five minutes gives Flash cause to shed a few tears after a bad day – so be it.  And if the departure of the Genie in Aladdin makes me sob (seriously… their friendship was tangible) then so be it. As long as I can shake it off and move on, then so what? My sons learn to show empathy and ask if I’m sad. I’m honest with them, they hand me a tissue and give me a hug, and I realize how lucky of a mama I really am.

Witnessing Butter Cheeks going through the terrible twos is a lot different than witnessing Flash go through it… because Flash didn’t have anyone to beat up on when he was frustrated.  Butter Cheeks will screech at his brother, taunt his brother, and smack him again, again, and again.  What’s amazing is that even as I am in the act of putting Butter Cheeks in timeout, Flash sticks up for his little brother.  He gives Butter Cheeks a hug and a kiss.  He forgives almost immediately.  Seeing this makes me realize that I am also capable of letting things go more quickly.  Why doesn’t my husband deserve an expedited pardon (especially when he isn’t even hitting me with a wooden block or Thomas the Train)? Yep, I think that about sums it up.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

As I said at the beginning of this blog, there are times where I overanalyze my actions as a parent… but as a general rule, I try not to take myself too seriously.  I love to laugh, and I think that we should have as much fun in our lives as we possibly can. However after 10 minutes of wrestling Butter Cheeks into his car seat there are no smiles coming from me. Yet Flash yells “piyoyo cars” (in Spanish “piyoyo” means “fart”) and cracks himself up. Why shouldn’t I be laughing too?  Is it really worth getting so worked up because Butter Cheeks doesn’t want to get in his seat?

So every day I try and remain mindful of my actions.  Whenever I notice that I’m in too much of a hurry, or I’m keeping too much inside, or holding a grudge, or I’m mad at something that isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things… I just sit back and watch my kids to remind myself how life should be.  How I need to take time to relax and look at a pretty flower.  That it’s okay if I cry every now and again.  That everyone deserves to be forgiven.  And that the absolute best way to feel better about anything is to laugh.