Before becoming a parent, I thought that I would teach my children so much about life. You know all of the important things about how to be independent, being polite and kind, to look both ways before crossing a street, and not to eat candy for breakfast while praying they don’t catch me washing down Twizzlers with my morning coffee. Yes, I’ve taught them many things but I often feel like it doesn’t compare to what they have both taught me.
1. You’re SO much more than your shell.
I’m at that awesome age of 40 where you’re still young enough for acne and old enough for wrinkles. I tell you, it’s a whole load of sexiness I never thought would be possible to experience, but yet, here I am. Some days as I stare at my reflection in the mirror upon waking up and see the glorious mess I am, I’ll catch myself feeling down about how I’ve aged and wonder where my beautiful, thick hair I once had before having children went. Then my thoughts are interrupted as they barge into my precious alone time in the bathroom to urinate with their thick and messy bedhead hair saying “Hi Mama!” give me a hug and whisper I love you. Then my baby girl will completely melt my heart as she says, “I’m so glad you’re my mommy.” This little girl is looking at me with the crazy hair, mismatched pajamas, acne, wrinkles, and still saying this. It then hits me that she is not talking about this hot mess staring back at her, but the woman inside this shell and that I need to focus way more on that. I would give my right arm for these kids, so obviously my hair and young looks are well worth it for them and this valuable lesson.
2. Unconditional Love
It’s funny how you think you know love until you have children. I remember bawling my eyes out, ugly-cry style, like a complete psychopath as I held my son in my arms and was finally alone with him in my hospital room after giving birth. I did the same exact thing when my daughter was born, too! I was completely and utterly terrified about the insane amount of love that I felt for this child that I finally got to meet after 9 long months. I had never felt anything like it before and it is incredible, takes your breath away and you immediately turn into a mama bear that will cause bodily harm to anyone that tries to hurt them.
3. You will want to fight 5 year olds.
Have you ever felt the overwhelming urge to become a ninja and fight little kids on the playground, school, etc that are cruel to your children? No? Well, I have!! Everyone has heard the phrase, “Pick on someone your own size.”, well at 5’2, I feel I am at the height that supports this should anyone mess with my kids. OKAAYYYY, I’m joking but I will not lie and say the urge is not there! Autism has made me see some ugly sides of people, both young and old. And of course, I’ve seen “mean” with my little girl, too, and have wanted to put them in their place. I’ve learned you can have thick skin before having kids, but that skin STILL isn’t thick enough. I’m still developing that other layer for these children that are my heart running around outside my body.
4. The L-M-N-O-Plan.
This reformed planner and control freak has thanked God for a 25 letter alphabet multiple times. (Remember, I’m from Boston and do not use the letter “R”) When plan A, B, C, D….you get the picture, do not work out, you just keep going. Do not get frustrated. I promise something better is down the road and there is a reason the other plans did not work out. I’ve experienced more happiness than I could have imagined by plans A through L not working out. I’ve also become a better person that way, too. I am not the mother I dreamed I would be when I was pregnant with my son and plotted out how “perfect” life would be. That woman I envisioned was actually a nightmare! She didn’t know how to go with the flow, was judgmental of other parenting styles, and desperately needed everyone’s approval. Now, I am the mother that is judged as I let my children use electronics at a restaurant so my husband and I can get through a conversation and eat a hot meal, feed them “organic” donuts, and let them watch one more episode of Henry Danger because I’m too tired to fight with them. I cringe to think what life would be like if Plan A had worked out. Yikes!
5. The “little” things are often the best things.
Autism has taught me take zero for granted, celebrate all accomplishments and to live more in the moment. My son just started an Adaptive program for Sunday school and I will tell you it was one of the most joyful 90 minutes I have spent in a long time. My cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing because I was able to see my son and his beautiful mind take in all that he was learning in his own way. When learning about Baby Jesus and asked what the lone puppet needed, my son answered with “Milk and a Binky”. They were looking for the answer “Mother” to introduce the puppet Mary. He also wanted the Wisemen to give gifts to everyone there and not just Baby Jesus because well…that’s the nice thing to do! He also was hoping he’d get a gift, although he may be disappointed when he realized their gifts were not compatible with the Wii U. And when the woman was talking about the fishermen and their fishing nets, and how they “Shake, Shake, Shake” them, my son interjects and says, “Your Booty” because apparently he’s become a fan of the KC and The Sunshine Band song and felt it was an appropriate hymn for Sunday school. I could write a separate blog post on that 90 minute class and the awesomeness that I experienced. My point is that I am now able to see the beauty and joy in it all. I didn’t have that before becoming a mom. I drove home that day thanking God that I was my son’s mother and that my face hurt so much from smiling.
6. DO and BE whatever you want.
My daughter is everything I want to be when I grow up. Seriously, that girl is strong, kind, witty and so bright. The list goes on and on. My favorite quality of hers is that she is so determined and doesn’t give up. She approaches new challenges without doubts that she won’t be able to accomplish it. I hear her always say, “I just have to keep practicing”, “When I do this..” “I’m going to”. I never hear the “Maybe someday” or “I wish I could do that” that adults say 117 times per day. It blows me away that a 5 year old has it figured out more than I do, but I’m trying to soak up everything that I can from her to approach life because her mind is how our adult minds were when we were younger before we listened to the world tell us who, what and how we should be. In any given week, she wants to be a rock star, teacher and writer. She never thinks that any of those are out of her reach, because they’re not. She knows you have to put in work. You just have to “practice” and “do it” as she says so simply. I guess that’s a better approach to it rather than whining and saying, “I wish I could do that” as you sit on the couch watching reality tv. I may or may not be guilty of that.
This list could go on and on because my children have taught me way more than just these 6 things. I have a feeling this blog post will be continued. 😉