It's supposed to be the other way around. We mums and dads are supposed to be the teachers and our littles, our obedient students. But in the three-and-a-half years that I've been a Mum, I can vouch for two things:
a) our students aren't always obedient (think babies who refuse to sleep; Terrible Two-ers; Threenagers) and
b) our 'students' often – unknowingly – become our teachers.
Not that they teach us basic life skills like eating with a spoon, drinking from a glass and learning to self-soothe to sleep, but while we go about these seemingly-mundane-yet-all-important tasks, our babies and toddlers teach us so many important life lessons. Like patience. Taking time to smell the roses. Awakening the child within you. And of course, survival! (Have you endured a whining baby from am till pm, after having had just three hours of sleep the night/s before, and are practically living on cups of now-cold coffee?!)
Here are 10 things I've learnt from being Mum to Little Man (besides knowing everything about Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam and Paw Patrol!)
Now I wouldn't claim to be the most patient person/mum/wife/daughter in the world. In fact, I'm far from that title. But Little Man has taught me a little more patience. Dinner can be quicker if I feed him; but how would he learn to feed himself if I don't let him? We could reach nursery/ the park/ anywhere if I just put on his socks and shoes, but I know he loves to assert his independence and try to do it himself. Weaning, brushing teeth, potty training, giving him time to find the correct words to express himself… every minute aspect of child-rearing requires oodles of patience. And I'm getting better…
2. Listening and not just hearing
In the hustle n' bustle of life, we often listen to things (the news, the radio, our whining
friend on the telephone) but we don't actually hear what is being said. But ever since Little Man has started talking, I am making that extra effort to hear him, to let him finish his sentences (however nonsensical they might be) and even partake in his little imaginary tales. And you know what, it feels lovely.
3. Stopping to smell the roses
Ok, not literally since I'm either always rushing somewhere or running after my sprinting/scooting Little Man, but what I'm referring to is living in the moment and enjoying it, rather than worrying about tomorrow. Toddlers take in every minute milli-second of their awake time, and make it the best that it can be (except when tantruming, I suppose, but even then they give it their best shot!).
For instance, the walk to Little Man's nursery is no more than five minutes, but it often takes us much longer. Because he stops and takes in everything around him. He notices the delivery truck, the red car, the cat crossing the road, the leaves on the ground. He's in the moment, while I, on the other hand, am thinking about the 101 things I have to get done that day.
Agree, children don't have the tensions of work and life upon them, but try slowing things down once in a while and taking in life as it happens.
4. Bringing out the inner child in you
I'm slowly beginning to look at life from Little Man's perspective. And it's extremely liberating and a lot of fun! The next time it pours, instead of moaning about the weather, get out and splash around with your little one in muddy puddles (courtesy Peppa). Go ahead and enjoy that ice-cream guilt-free when the sun is out. Dance when you hear music. Break the routine once in a while. Free yourself.
Motherhood/ Fatherhood makes you responsible. Period. From the moment you find out you are pregnant, you want to provide the best that you can for your child. This little human being looks to you for every little thing – from being fed to being changed to being loved. How could you not get your act together?
6. Getting your priorities right
After becoming a mum, life's all about prioritising. What was once important to you in a world before kids has zero significance now. Your day revolves around their routine, their interests and their schedule. You do things with them in mind, no matter how exhausted/ bored/ busy you are.
Like the other morning it was raining and I was walking Little Man to nursery. He insisted on walking under his own pint-sized umbrella, despite not being able to hold it up. It was cold and wet. We were late. I had somewhere to be. It would've been quicker and easier if I just carried him under my umbrella, but he was so excited and keen to do it himself, I couldn't refuse. And I was glad I didn't. In the larger scheme of things, teaching him this life skill (however small it might be) was way more important than me being five minutes late.
7. Sharper brain (despite having Mummy Brain!)
Being a mum also makes you more aware. However sleep deprived you may be, you will smell danger from a mile away. And you will whisk your little one to safety – it's Mumstinct!
PS: On another note, packing a baby/toddler's nappy bag also helps keep your brain sharp. You've got to remember it all – snacks (healthy ones and ones that keep boredom away); toys (the correct ones, God help you if you got the blue car instead of the red one!); change of clothes if you're potty training; a cardigan if it gets too chilly; teething gel incase a tooth pops out; pacifiers; wet wipes; nappies…
Before baby, you will eat your slice of cake without so much as offering a bite to anyone. After baby, you will just nibble on it because you know how much your toddler loves chocolate cake.
If there is one cracker left, you will leave it for your little one, no matter how hungry you are.
If you're exhausted and would much rather see mindless telly while couch potato-ing on the sofa, but your toddler wants you to do a puzzle with him, you will smile and say 'yes'.
If you want to sleep for five more minutes, but your toddler is jumping all over you with excitement, you will wake up and join in the fun.
If you want to go shopping, but know that your toddler would much rather prefer the soft play, you will let go of that sale.
It's tough being mum, but if you look at it, it's probably tougher being a toddler. There's a whole load of stuff to grasp, from language to poo-ing in the potty. New skills to learn, new people to meet. It's exhilarating, yet scary. What seems run-of-the-mill to us is gigantic to a three-year-old. Keeping this in mind, I have become more empathetic towards Little Man and his needs and random requests.
10. Unconditional love
I love that our little ones forgive and forget so soon. No matter how much I have shouted at him during bedtime the night before, he will wake up and tell me I'm the best mum in the world. Or come hug me and tell me 'I love you, Mummy' ten minutes after I've told him off for being naughty.
And it works both ways: motherhood imbibes in us unconditional love for our children, a love that only grows more each day.
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