Many of us have been fed lie after lie about motherhood. We are told that when we have children, our dreams are over. When we have children, we will lose ourselves. When we have children, life as we know it will be over.
Don’t get me wrong. My world absolutely revolves around my girls but in the very best of ways. I have found that since becoming a mother, I am more ambitious, more self-loving, more wondrous, and more joyful than ever.
When my eyes met the big, beautiful brown eyes of my oldest daughter for the first time, something in me shifted. I was determined to be the woman I wanted her to see in me.
Those dreams I always talked about? I was going to chase them. Those moments I feel silly? I was going to embrace them. Those times I felt overcome with emotion? I was going to feel them without shame.
Since becoming a mother, I have found myself jumping in puddles, dancing in the rain, playing mermaids in the pool, and allowing my inner child to thrive. I made the decision early on to be a role model for my girls. The role model I wanted to be probably wasn’t the traditional kind though.
I wanted my girls to have a role model who chased life’s simple joys. I wanted my girls to have a role model who built the life of her dreams, not the life of society’s dreams. I wanted my girls to have a role model who is completely herself, even when it meant being the weird one.
I want my girls to learn to live their lives to the fullest. I want them to see that life doesn’t have to be that serious. We can get things done and still have fun along the way. I want them to know we can be kind and courteous to others while still taking care of ourselves. I want them to go after the things they want and love fearlessly. In working to become the woman I want my girls to see, I have found that my heart has felt lighter than ever. I am more fun. I am more openly loving. I am more me.
Do you want to know the strangest thing about motherhood? I sometimes find myself gaining more wisdom from my infant and toddler than I ever could have offered them. As they navigate this world, with their little minds untouched by the pressures and ugliness of society, I have learned lessons more valuable than any class could have taught me.
In my own childhood, the wild, weird, and silly parts of me were forcibly shoved into my most inner depths by others who had the same done to them. I found my life being ruled by fear and worry. Every failure felt like the end of the world, every judgment felt like fact, and every rejection felt like a personal attack.
But then, I watched my 11-month-old pulling herself to stand, taking a shaky step . . . and falling. Did she stay down and give up? Absolutely not. Her failures were not the end of the world. Instead, she giggled, dusted herself off, and pulled herself right back to standing, only to fall all over again. And, guess what? Everything was okay. Every fall was an opportunity to learn and laugh. And, eventually, she got the hang of things when she was ready to.
We all fall, and then we are faced with a choice. Do I giggle at the opportunity to try again and seize it? Or, do I wallow in embarrassment and move on to something easier?
Oh, and then we have the wondrous ways they explore this world. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new, to find beauty in the mundane, to adventure. How many times a day do you find yourself rushing for no reason? Are you speeding your way to the grocery store? Are you rushing your morning walks? Are you hustling through your morning routine?
We have all been conditioned to rush through life. Sure, sometimes the rushing is completely necessary, but what about the times it isn’t? Can you imagine the little bits of beauty we are missing in our day-to-day as we focus on getting to the finish line faster and faster?
I never realized how delicious the flowers around our home really smell. I never took the time to be curious about the worms wriggling their way across the sidewalk. I never stopped to hear the birds sing. Our children are right. What’s the rush? Where’s the joy in the hustle and bustle?
But the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from my girls is that it is okay to be you. It is okay to feel sad. It is okay to be silly. It is okay to dislike something. Whoever you are in the moment you are in is perfectly okay. This world deserves the wholehearted versions of us. As long as you remain kind and courteous, the current version of you is perfect just the way you are.
These are only a few of the many things I have learned in my motherhood journey. I didn’t learn them from a parenting course. I didn’t learn them in a book. I learned them from children, some of the wisest teachers around.
Through their lessons, I have found healing, magic, and fun. I look forward to continuing this journey and learning about the world, right alongside them. And, if society tries to take these lessons from them, I look forward to teaching them to love the world all over again.