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  • Writer's pictureTina

Lessons Parenting Has Taught Me

My favorite little buddy turned fourteen this weekend. For the life of me, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s been fourteen years since I became a mom. Being her mom has been the best experience of my life. Jordan has been a blessing since she entered this world. I was in love with her the moment I met her birth mom and saw that baby bump. Being a mom has taught me many lessons. Some lessons are more difficult than others, but they are always valuable.

For example, being a mom has taught me that being a control freak does not benefit me in any way. When Jordan was first born, I believed I could control the outcome of every situation. I firmly believed that with time, effort, planning, and sheer willpower, I could strong-arm any situation to bend to my will and produce the desired outcome. Jordan was born with some pretty severe health issues. I measured medicine and meticulously followed a schedule. I measured and documented how much she ate, drank, and slept and what she did when she was awake. I employed a massage therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and later a speech therapist. These incredible women helped me to become a better mother, trust my instincts, and, most of all, understand that meeting milestones, reading all the books, and controlling every situation did not benefit Jordan or me. Once I was able to put the books back on the shelf and understand that my child would follow her own timeline, I became a much better, happier, and more relaxed mom. Lo and behold, my child turned out perfect, even though I couldn’t control every outcome or situation. I have applied this lesson to every stage of childhood.

Jordan has taught me to prioritize what is important. I have always known she is my “one and done.” This means I won’t get a do-over; there won’t be any more children to experience the rites of passage with or be involved in experiences. I had one shot to be the mom of an infant, toddler, elementary student, and now high school student. I took every opportunity to play on the floor, color, paint, do crafts, read stories, make cookies, play hide and seek, be the classroom mom, chaperone the events, attend the concerts and plays, and provide memorable birthdays and holidays. Jordan taught me that the housework could wait. The tedious daily tasks could be made into fun games, and everything is an adventure and learning experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed being her mom. I realize it is up to me to create memorable moments with her. She will remember the little things like singing songs when we drive somewhere, having picnics by the pond, baking cookies at a moment’s notice, going for a walk and holding hands, reading together, snuggling, creating classroom favors for holidays, helping with classroom parties, and the magical moments of childhood holidays. Indeed, time and attention and not possessions make for a happy childhood.

I’ve also learned the importance of leading by example. Even when children are little, they pay close attention to what a parent does over what a parent says to do. She also pays close attention to what I speak, not only about the world but about myself. I cannot preach self-love, self-worth, and self-acceptance when I run myself ragged, devalue my talents, and constantly criticize myself and my appearance. She understands the value of hard work, education, trying your best, being kind, respectful, and having fun. Life is a balancing act and one that is difficult to achieve. There must be hard work, not being afraid to get one’s hands dirty, and putting in the hours needed for success, but there must also be opportunities to play, relax, and recharge. One must treat oneself with kindness and respect, as well as others. This is a lesson I continue to work on and improve.

Being present and mindful is also essential. Being Jordan’s mom has taught me to live in the moment. Yes, it’s important to plan and prepare for the future, but it’s also important to live in the moment and enjoy what is happening when it is happening. My dad worked tirelessly and relentlessly, pushing himself to provide, give, and earn more. He was successful and built a great business and life. My dad worked hard; that is what I remember about my dad. He sacrificed time, events, and experiences because he thought he was doing his best by providing for us financially. He was doing his best, and I appreciate that. However, I also remember the missed birthdays, holidays, and events. I remember feeling like work came first for him and then family. The times that I had my dad one-on-one or he did little things like read to us before bed, play checkers, wrestle with us on the floor, and ride horses are the moments that stand out for me. It was a big deal to me when he took the time to do something not work related with me. Yes, I want to provide a good life for my girl, but I also want her to know she comes first above all else. I want to be present for my girl. I want her to feel like she is the most important, most magical human in my world. I want her always to know I love, appreciate, respect, and value her as a person.

Being a parent has also taught me that every individual must walk their own path. Ultimately, I can lead by example, set values, teach moral lessons, teach life lessons, and instill a work ethic but in the end, she will choose her path. It won’t always be the path I would choose for her. I know she will mess up; we all do. However, when she messes up, I want her to know I will be there to help her pick up the pieces. I want her to understand that she won’t ever walk her path alone. She may not always have my approval, but she will always have my acceptance and, most importantly, my love. Learning this and accepting it has been difficult and will probably always be the most challenging aspect of parenting. However, as scary as it is, it is also exciting. I love watching the beautiful person she is blossoming into and the amazing life she is creating for herself. She dazzles me.

On this chilly January day, stay safe, be smart, learn and enjoy the lessons life teaches you, and of course, keep washing your hands.

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