My daughter is now four years old. Actually, she would correct me, “four-and-three-quarters.” It is so hard to believe I have already been a mother now for almost five years and how much I’ve learned during this time. Now that my daughter is more articulate, I realize having a child is like having a mirror staring back at me at all times. She is watching, listening and mimicking me constantly, and countless times when she is in the other room seeming so engrossed in her playing, I realize she is hearing every little thing I say. Therefore through motherhood, I am learning to improve myself as a person and be a happier, healthier mom and role model. As I reflect on the past “four-and-three-quarters” years, here is what I have learned.
1) It’s okay to make mistakes. Sometimes I screw up. I don’t always handle a conflict “exactly” how I read to in a parenting book or I get impatient when I wish I hadn’t…you get the drift. Well, it’s okay. I am not perfect and never will be. I take responsibility for my mistakes and when it’s appropriate, I talk to her about it.
2) A messy house is not the end of the world. I wish my house were clean every single day, but sometimes, there are just more important things to attend to, and I can’t do everything. If it’s a choice between playing with my daughter after work or cleaning the house, I’m usually going to choose playing with my daughter. These days are flying by and I have years and years ahead of me to clean my house.
3) Learn to love my body. My body isn’t exactly where it was five years ago, and yes, there are many moments where I get frustrated with that. But I made a promise to myself to never criticize my body in front of my daughter. I eat healthy, exercise and leave it at that. The last thing I want to do is to teach her how to criticize her little body. I can’t control the messages she will receive from the outside world about how she’s “suppose” to look, but I figure leading by example will be one of the most powerful messages she will take in.
4) Improving my ability to manage stress. As mothers, we have so much on our plates. Everything is a constant balancing act. I am learning to let certain things go, and just like it’s important for my daughter to get enough rest, it’s important for us moms to as well. I pause a lot more during the day now to do a physical inventory – are my shoulders hiked up? Am I grinding my teeth? I take a lot of deep breaths throughout the day just to remind myself to let go. The more balanced I am, the better mom I’ll be.
5) Laughing and having fun. The people I remember most as a kid are those that loved to have fun with me. When I’m playing with my daughter, I just let myself fall into her little world of building forts, getting in her make believe airplane or train and traveling to all her pretend destinations, playing tag outside, or building castles with her blocks. It’s so fun to see what she imagines as she continues to mature, and there have been times when we have laughed so hard I can barely catch my breath. I cherish these moments with her. I hope she will remember them too.
6) Having gratitude. My husband and I started a tradition where all three of us take a turn to name one thing we are grateful for: our two sweet dogs, a delicious ice cream on a hot day, each other, kind words, etc. I hope to instill in her an appreciation for all the things she can be grateful for and the ability to see the cup half full. It is so easy to think about what we don’t have, or what we haven’t accomplished, or what we have no control over, but we do have control over how we think about things. On a tough day, reminding myself what I’m grateful for can be very powerful, and I want her to have that ability as well.
What are your Motherhood secrets?