When I had my son, I had no idea what kind of mom I would be. How would I know how to take care of him, what to teach him and when, and meet his needs? So, as with any new mom, I was clueless. I read parenting books and blogs, figured lots of other moms would give me advice on what to do and then the rest would hopefully just “kick in”.
Little did I know that I would actually learn many lessons from my son that would make me a better mom.
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So, I’m not one of those women that knew I wanted kids when I was young, or even in my 20s. I didn’t really know I wanted kids until I was around 30. Maybe that was the old “biological clock” ticking, or some other nonsense. But I sure didn’t know how to raise a kid or know anything about kids, for that matter, since I wasn’t around them much as I got older. I was afraid I would fail as a parent or mess the kid up somehow. Naive and foolish thoughts, but still fears I had.
Fast forward several years, and now I’m a mom to an amazing (almost) 4 year old son. He makes our family complete. My life has changed for the better and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. He’s made me a better mom and a better person. I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be and I love deeply and openly. He is a momma’s boy and I love him with all my heart.
Here are 10 lessons my son has taught me to make me a better mom, and really a better person, too.
You don’t have to be perfect.
You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have a spotless house or cook fancy meals. You don’t have to wear makeup all the time or wear expensive clothes. Your kids don’t care how you look or what you wear or how much money you have. Well, teenagers might not want you to walk outside the house in your pajamas, but younger kids don’t usually care. They just want you to be there for them, play with them, and love them.
My son comes into my bed every night sometime after midnight. He doesn’t wake up every morning and tell me how bad I look, or how tired I look with the big dark circles under my eyes. He gives me a hug and kiss and tells me that he loves me 🙂 So, even though I think I look awful most mornings, he’s just happy to be snuggling next to me. Which is also another reason I’m not in a big rush to push him out of my bed at night.
So, don’t strive for perfection. It’s overrated! And I’m a huge perfectionist, so learning to let go of some things is hard. It is okay to mess up. That is how we learn and grow. And if our kids see us make mistakes, and get right back at it, then they won’t be so afraid of making them either.
It is okay to be silly.
I’m not naturally a silly person. I can be funny at times and I love to laugh, but I’m often a more serious, although still laid back, person. But when I had my son, he taught me early on that it was okay to be silly. I would make silly faces or sounds to make him happy and smile. I would do little dances or sing silly songs, and I really didn’t care who saw me or what they thought. My son’s happiness was more important than how crazy I may have appeared to others.
He taught me to relax more and not care so much what others might think of me. To just be myself.
Now that he’s a little older, we still do silly dances and make up songs. We make up silly games and giggle. We act silly all the time. And it is a very free feeling.
So, make those silly faces with your kids, tell them silly stories or sing silly songs. Dance until you drop.
Let go of expectations.
I think every parent has expectations of what kind of parent they will be or how they want to raise their kids. You might as well scrap that idea now.
You know raising kids won’t be easy. But you’ve had plenty of friends and family with kids and they always make it look easy. So you think, “oh, it must not be too bad”. And it’s not bad, per se, but it is different. You don’t realize how truly tired you will be, especially during that first year, or how little free time you will have compared to when you used to just go to a movie or run whenever you wanted. Everything now has to be planned out, sometimes days in advance. And you tag-team with your partner so you can get some sleep, or just a moment of peace.
You may keep some of those values like teaching your kids to be kind and loving or to have faith and love God. But some of what you had hoped for won’t live up to your expectations.
I thought I would never let my kid sleep with me. But my son was a preemie, with no fat, and reflux, and who hated to sleep, so we coslept for several months. And then again anytime he had trouble sleeping late at night. And now every night sometime after midnight. But I’ve learned to love those moments and enjoy the snuggles because they won’t last forever.
I thought he would be sleeping through the night when he was just a few months old, because my husband and I were both good sleepers as babies. Nope! Didn’t happen. He didn’t sleep through the night until he was 2. I was one tired momma!
I also thought I would let him cry it out. Nope, couldn’t stand to let him cry for more than a few minutes. It may work for some families, but not for ours. So, we did more of a gentle approach.
I had no idea how protective I would be or how much I would worry about every little thing.
I also still have hopes, like many other parents, of my son being a runner like his mom and dad. But I will expose him to all kinds of sports and activities and let him decide.
So, with all that in mind, I’ve learned I’m a very different mom than I thought I would be. And I have to let go of many expectations I have for my son. He is his own person and every kid is different and develops at different paces and with different interests. Now, I instill values in him and teach him how to be a good, kind, considerate, and loving person and to say “please” and “thank you” and help others. But I can’t make him develop at a faster rate or love something just because I do. I don’t want him to think I’m disappointed in him because he’s not a certain way. I love him for who he is, and always will.
Be a better listener.
Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels
My son has taught me to be a better listener. Now, I am a strong introvert, so I tend to be the one listening to others instead of talking. Although, I do tend to talk a lot to those close to me.
My son is definitely a talker, like I used to be as a kid. So, he always has lots to say, even if it just sounds like rambling most of the time. I swear the other day it seemed like he talked ALL DAY LONG! And when he’s supposed to be lying down for “quiet” time, since he doesn’t nap anymore, all he wants to do is talk. And all I want is a few minutes of peace to relax. I can’t be the only one feeling like this, can I?
But if you listen to him, he will sometimes reveal little things that let you see how his mind works and what he truly likes and doesn’t, and what his fears are. Before he goes to sleep every night, he has to tell me a story. He whispers it to me. These are usually made up and half the time I can’t quite follow what he’s saying, but I listen and smile. We’re building trust. He trusts that he can tell me anything. And I really hope he trusts to tell me things when he is older, or gets in trouble, or needs help or just someone to talk to. I want him to come to me for advice. I want to listen, try not to jump to conclusions and be understanding, no matter what has happened.
So I listen now, as closely as I can.
Take a deep breath and assess the situation.
We’ve all been there: your kid breaks something of yours that is valuable, or marked all over the walls, or tracked mud through the house, or they disrespect you. As much as you love them, kids are going to do things that make you mad or frustrated. They don’t often think before they do.
My son has taught me to be a calmer person.
At times when I get mad or frustrated, I’ve learned to just stop and take a breath or two or three, and assess the situation. I don’t want to act out of anger or say something I’ll regret. Is the offense worth assigning a punishment? If so, what is it? If it’s something small or something that really isn’t a big deal in the greater scheme of things, then we just talk about it and move on. Was it my fault (as in I wasn’t paying enough attention), and if so, how can I change it?
Whether big or small, talking it through will help both you and your kid.
As the saying goes, “don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Yelling solves nothing.
I am not a yeller. I hate being yelled at and always have, whether it was from getting in trouble or just someone raising their voice at me to get my attention. I am sensitive to loud noises. My son is apparently the same way.
I try not to overreact to anything, unless of course if it’s life-threatening like running out into the road. If I remain calm, he is likely to remain calm, too.
This goes for if he gets hurt, too. If I overreact to him getting a scraped knee or a cut, he may freak out every time it happens, too. I don’t want him to be afraid to try things because he might get hurt. That’s part of life. We’ve all had scrapes and bruises.
Be in the moment.
I know as parents we always have a million things to do everyday, from work, to dinner, cleaning, baths, bedtime, finding time to work out or run, and managing to get some sleep. It’s hard to make ourselves take time and enjoy all the little moments, when there definitely isn’t enough time in the day. The world is so fast-paced now.
We get so busy when we’re at home that we don’t stop and listen to our kids when they want us to watch them do something for the hundredth time, or they want us to play with them. When our “in a minute” turns into 20, or “maybe later” means it doesn’t happen at all. And we are just too tired sometimes.
But kids grow up so fast!
Mine son is almost 4, and I have no idea how time slipped by so fast. Yesterday he was a little baby in my arms, and now he can ride a bike and will start preschool in the fall. I wish time could slow down some.
So, I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to stop what I’m doing (within reason) and give my son the attention he deserves. If I’m cleaning or cooking, I’ll do that for 15 to 20 minutes and then spend the next 5 minutes playing with my son. Giving him my undivided attention. That’s all he wants anyway, and that can often head off a tantrum or meltdown later on. Because I have noticed that he doesn’t listen as well or gets mad easier if he hasn’t had enough attention that day.
Or better yet, let them help. My son loves to help me cook, and he even helps with the laundry sometimes.
Being in the moment also goes for all the parents that take thousands of photos of their kids and don’t just stop and watch what’s going on.
Don’t get me wrong, I play with my son all the time. He is an only child and gets all kinds of attention. But, I’m the first to admit that I sometimes live behind a camera. I like to catch all the moments so I can look back at them and remember all the fun we had or even the sad times or the tantrums. But sometimes you can miss the best things if you aren’t in the moment.
Every step and milestone doesn’t have to be recorded. I know smartphones have made this easier since you have a video recorder and camera at your fingertips now. So, set your phone or camera down for a bit.
If your kid is trying to show you a trick he learned, then watch and say how much you liked it. Or if she wants to tell you a story, listen to the story and ask her what she thinks about it or say what you liked about it, so she knows you’re really listening. Kids say some amazing things. Watch their expressions, soak it all in, and join in if they let you. Play trains with them, sing a song, dance, color, read a book together, play a video game or board game with them, or play tag.
So, be there in the moment with them, or you just might miss it because it goes by in the blink of an eye.
Laughter really is the best medicine.
This is probably my favorite lesson learned from my son, and goes along with the lesson of being silly. He laughs all the time, and it’s quite contagious. He also loves to make me and others laugh. I see him being the class clown when he starts school.
If I’m having a bad day or I’m sad, he always tries to cheer me up. He’ll tell me a story or act silly. And then there are the times where it’s not supposed to be funny, but you laugh anyway. Kids are full of laughter and joy, and they really do say the funniest things sometimes. As, adults, I think we tend to be more serious. We have a lot more to deal with and worry about. Kids are carefree.
I realize there aren’t a lot of funny movies or tv shows on anymore. Although I don’t really have time to watch them anyway. I get my fill of tv from watching train cartoons, Bugs Bunny, monster truck videos, and KET cartoons.
I used to have giggle fits when I was younger, even in my early 20s. I guess I’ve become too serious since then. But my son brings the laughter out in me.
One of my favorite memories is of him making me laugh so hard that I cried.
I used to sing songs to him before bed. He’s gotten too old for that now, but I enjoyed it while it lasted, even though I can’t carry a tune whatsoever. In the dark, I quietly sang the “Skinnamarinky dinky dink, I love you” song with arm movements and all, since he had requested it. I know, I know, it wasn’t the best choice of songs before bed.
But he started to do the arm movements, too, and started laughing. Then I started laughing while still trying to finish the song. He held my face and told me I was funny. I started laughing so hard I was crying. He asked why I was crying, and he started crying, too, from laughing so hard. I don’t remember why we were in such a giggly mood, but I think we both needed it.
So, again, laughter is the best medicine. Laugh hard, and laugh often!
Love can be unconditional.
I never knew how much I could love and be loved until I had my son. From the moment he was in my arms, that tiny little body with tiny features and big blue eyes, my heart has been his. He is always in the back of my mind, no matter what I’m doing or where I am. My heart aches when I’m not with him.
He gives me hugs and kisses all the time. He is very open with his love for me and I for him.
He is so excited to see me when I get home, even if I just went to the gym. He runs screaming “mommy’s home” to me and gives me a big hug. It always makes my day and makes me feel better if I’m having a bad day.
I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about. Even though your kids can sometimes drive you crazy, they are your world and you love them with all of your heart.
Have more patience.
You’ll need a lot of patience as a parent, because kids will test you at every corner.
I’m a pretty patient person, but my son has definitely taught me the value of patience. My husband has made the comment many times how I have more patience than he does, especially when our son is dragging his feet at bedtime or to get out the door, or whining. Oh, the whining! I’m guessing that only gets worse as he get older, doesn’t it? He’s already started with the “but, Mom”s, when he doesn’t want to do something or stop playing. I have no idea where he learned that. I thought it didn’t start until he was a teenager or preteen at least.
But it’s still hard sometimes when you’re tired at the end of the day and your kid won’t eat what you made for supper or won’t pick up his toys like you asked, or is just not listening to you at all. Your patience is wearing thin.
This is where I usually realize it’s me that is the problem and not my son. So I try to step back and breathe so I don’t overreact to anything.
Kids move at their own pace. And they really do like to please their parents most of the time. If you are always rushing them, that can make them feel like they are doing something wrong. Learning to get dressed on their own, tie their shoes, brush their teeth, all take time and practice. It also seems like the more you seem to rush, the more they drag their feet. So leaving extra time in the morning to get ready or starting the bedtime routine a little earlier can help to avoid feeling rushed. I know I get anxious when I’m rushed, so I don’t want my son to feel that way, too.
I also try to teach my son to have patience with things that he does. He sometimes gets frustrated if he can’t figure something out right away, or throws down a toy because it doesn’t work like he thinks it should, or just gets mad. Getting him to try again because you have to try something a few (or hundred) times before you get it right.
I’ve also found I have more patience outside of the home, too, like standing in line at the store, waiting on food at a restaurant, waiting to use a machine at the gym. Although I still don’t have a lot of patience for driving in traffic. I’m not sure that one will ever get better, because we’ve all got places to be!
Be my best self.
To be a good mom, I have to be my best self. This means taking care of myself by continuing to run and work out and eat right, so I can keep up with him and feel better about myself. This means leaving my work at the door and dealing with any frustrations or anger I have about anything that day before I get home, so that I don’t take anything out on him.
Getting plenty of sleep so I’m not cranky or easily to anger. Because when you’re cranky you tend to be easily irritated and you don’t want to snap at them when they say “mom” 20-30 times in a row or refuse to listen. I am generally a very calm person, but I can definitely be cranky when I don’t get enough sleep. I’m still working on this one. For as much as I love sleep, the evenings are the only times I can get anything done, so I tend to stay up later than I should.
You can also see how little sleep or not eating right can affect your kid. The result is often more tantrums.
My son has given up naps at home, so I don’t get my catnap in the middle of the day anymore on the weekends. Oh, how I miss naps! He hates to fall asleep anyway, but he will miss them one day.
So, there are the 10 lessons my son has taught me to make me a better mom, and all around better and happier person. I’m sure this list will continue to grow and evolve as my son gets older and I encounter new challenges.
What lessons have your kids taught you? Share them in the comments.