As a parent, I recall when I first learned I was going to be a mother. I purchased just about every parenting book, followed countless parenting sites/blogs and even provided my husband with a stash of “best books to read for a new dad.” While we both knew we could never be totally prepared for parenthood, we wanted to try to be as much as possible. Little did I know that even after three children, parenting is truly still a learning experience.
I constantly strive to be the best mother I can to my children, while identifying ways to add value to their life. But what I never expected was for my children to be the ones having the greater influence. As this year draws to a close, I began to reflect on meaningful contributions my children have given me. With each new beautiful addition to our family, my children have gifted me with lessons that money could not buy.
Gift #1 – Consistency
Prior to children my life was very organized … now not so much. However with the demands of every day life, homework, extracurricular actives, family engagements, etc., it is so vital for me to develop consistency in my life. Whatever I start I need to finish. It doesn’t mean I don’t give myself grace as a mom, but it also challenges me in other areas of my life that yearn for consistency.
How, you may ask, have my children taught me this? Well, each morning when I drop our older two children off at school, my 8 month old has a bowel movement.
It literally never fails. Ever.
I end up changing him before heading back home. I used to get frustrated over this but then I realized, why I am getting upset over his schedule and something that he obviously cannot control? My son is consistent. He is going to have that bowel movement regardless of what type of day the world around him is having, what comes up at the last minute or a need that has to be met. I then reflected and realized that my biggest area of improvement is to be filled is consistency, and I’m grateful my 8 month old taught me this.
Gift #2 – Organization
Being organized goes hand-in-hand with being consistent. When you become a mother, one of the many first lessons you learn is that things will definitely not go as planned most of the time. However creating structure and organization for your family and yourself is important. If you don’t create this type of system, your children will (and trust me, you want to be the one in charge for sanity’s sake).
Even when my day does not go as planned — and I’m an adult — the way I respond to situations is much different. I find myself more frustrated, stressed out, and short-tempered. And unfortunately, I end up projecting that frustration on my husband and children.
Gift#3 – Grace
Children learn by doing … and doing includes making mistakes. I always remind my 5 year old daughter that there will be times that she disappoints me, and that’s okay because it’s the only way she will learn. But as a mother, I cannot allow the actions of my children to offend me so greatly that I choose not to forgive them, and more importantly, love them.
Learning how to discipline our children has helped me 1) understand the measure of unconditional love and grace that my Father Jesus Christ has for us as His children and 2) challenges me to extend that same measure of grace and unconditional love to people that I don’t “feel” like may deserve it. If you happen to be your own worst critique like me, then your children may have played a part in teaching you how to extend grace to yourself and realize just how imperfect we all are.
Gift #4 – Laughter
Lastly, but perhaps the most important gift my children have given me as a mother is laughter. If you know me, you know that I am quite the serious individual. I often find myself interjecting during my children’s playtime the moment I feel they are getting out of control (i.e. running constantly through the house, screaming, making a mess, etc.).
During one of my recent moments of reflection I asked God to help me learn to laugh more and fuss less when it comes to my children, and just let them be at times! They are kids for crying out loud! There are many times when I have been ready to chastise my children but caught myself laughing at what occurred. When these moments happen, they look at me waiting to laugh themselves. I could easily correct them, but it wasn’t a big deal and I didn’t let my emotions take over, but rather saw the fun in the situation. It’s okay to laugh and find the humor at times when it’s appropriate. Not every moment needs to be a learning lesson.
My little ones have brought me great joy and filled my life with treasurable memories. They make me who I am because of the life lessons they have taught me and the priceless gifts that have bestowed upon me. If you are a mom expecting or perhaps wondering what your spouse will give you as a present, I hope you will come to realize you’ve already received the best gift of all that holds no price tag … your children! They are truly worth it!