What I’ve Learned from Becoming a Parent
As any mom who has an almost 4-year-old, I feel like I’ve pretty much got this parenting thing down.
Ookay, no. No, not really. Probably not even close.
I take a lot of guesses and say a lot of prayers that I don’t screw this whole thing up. When I think of the magnitude of what parenting entails, I become overwhelmed. To think my husband and I will shape our daughter’s life, that our ideals will probably become hers, that our relationship will likely be what she tries to model as she gets older… it would be easy to crumble under that pressure.
However, I have learned some powerful, life-changing lessons in the short amount of time I’ve had the privilege of being Elle’s mommy.
Here are a few of them.
How to Be Kind to Myself
Today, my daughter grabbed a framed picture of my husband and me on our wedding day. Looking back on this photo taken 7 years ago, I regret my decision to wear my hair up, instead of down. I can see the blaring tan lines, I wish I would have been about 15 pounds lighter, with more defined arms. Oh, and I wish we would have gotten a better photographer.
When my daughter looked at this photo, she said to me, “Mommy, you look like a princess!”, then proceeded to sing a song from the Little Mermaid.
When I see myself, I look for my faults, and start an endless internal cycle of criticisms. When I look at Elle, I see perfection. I would not change a single thing about her. And you know what? She thinks the same thing about me. I want Elle to grow up and see herself for the amazing, beautiful, perfect person that she is. But how can I teach her to have a positive self-image, if I can’t do it for myself?
I have learned (and am still learning) to stop the internal criticisms. They don’t serve me or benefit me in anyway. I want to teach my daughter to love herself and see her inner and outer beauty, and I’m trying to lead by example.
How to Really Love and be Selfless
Growing up, I loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. I loved my siblings and my friends. I fell in love with my husband.
I. Have. Loved.
But here’s a little secret… the love for a child is such a different kind of love. It’s an everlasting, overwhelming, perfect and pure love. The kind of vulnerable love that makes you think you couldn’t and wouldn’t survive without that person. It’s a kind of love that strengthens your faith, because if this perfect little human being can come into creation, there has to be a God. It’s a love like I never knew, but for which I am forever changed.
This kind of love makes you an incredibly selfless person. You’ll learn how to sacrifice your time, your money, and your freedom, and all with a smile on your face and without regret. Because seeing your child happy, seeing them benefit from your sacrifices or hard work, is worth ten times more than all of the diamonds in the world.
How to be Strong
I’m not just talking about the delivery, although I do think every woman deserves a medal after that ordeal. Wow, are women’s bodies capable of some incredible things! But beyond the 9 months of sharing your body with another being, beyond the impossible task that is childbirth, and beyond the year or so of sleep deprivation, being a mom has made me strong.
I am a momma bear. You get near my cub, you criticize my cub, or if you try to hurt my cub, I will attack. And I will not hold back. I may look timid, but I am stronger than you can imagine when it comes to the well-being of my child. I will protect and advocate for my child, relentlessly, for as long as I live.
Even when she’s 70 years old, and I’m in a wheelchair, I will be there, watching and protecting. And I’ll probably have a cane to kick some ass, if necessary.
What lessons have you learned since becoming a parent?
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