Even before being a mom myself, I have been taking care of my nieces and nephews alongside their parents. Now that I am a hands-on mom to my six month old baby boy I have learned a lot mostly about myself, my personality and my life in general. Yes, you might think I’m overreacting but as a very reflective person, I know that moments in my life with these little people have turned me into a better person.
I’d like to share with you my Top Ten things that my kid, nieces and nephews taught me about parenting and life.
1. Dance and Sing like Crazy
I gave birth to my son this August because of the song Harlem Shake. Funny right? It was the night of August 20, and my hubby and I with our little niece and nephew we’re playing and we decided to dance to the song Harlem Shake. This song has become so viral that we had our own version of it. So we were really dancing like crazy. Can you imagine an 8 month old pregnant girl dancing to it? Well, I was doing that. We had so much fun and the kids were laughing really hard so it was kill joy to stop dancing. I think we danced for a whole 1 hour. Morning of August 21, I had my labor pains and was brought to the hospital to give birth to my son, Enzo.
It was such a fun experience and I always tell that story to my son even if he does not understand me yet. I am so lucky to have met my husband who’s also game for such craziness. Now with our baby we often sing and dance to him either to lull him to sleep or just play with him.
Being crazy around kids does not make us a lesser parent, aunts, uncles or grandparents. Kids are kids and they learn through singing, dancing, and all those craziness. So spend time with your kids and put on your crazy hats, your kids just might surprise you.
2. Life’s full of challenges
I learned a new version of this during my pregnancy and now while taking care of my baby. I am actually very lucky to have a very smooth pregnancy. I don’t usually feel morning sickness, cramps, etc during my pregnancy. Even my labor pains were not as long and painful compared to some Moms I know. I was also very blessed to have a normal delivery and to have a great doctor who helped me all throughout the pregnancy. But anyway, I learned as a new parent that every day is a challenge not only for me but mostly for my son. I could not imagine the hardship he was experiencing while delivering him because he already was in cord coil.
The first few months was an eye-opener for me. Before having my baby, I knew I was good with children but I found out it was a different story. I realized that taking care of newborn babies is a lot different from taking care of toddlers. I was very much challenged but luckily my son made it a lot easier for me to cope up.
Up until now, I expect to be challenge every day in every different way. There are days that go smoothly but there are also days that are nerve wracking. But all of those days are filled with happiness and worth it.
3. Listen with your heart
Whether you have newborn babies, toddlers, teens, or adults as children, listening and not just hearing is very crucial. As parents there is a need for us to give them our full attention and heart when they are talking or even in their silence.
My husband and I used what we learned from our friend which is the secret language of babies that was shown in Oprah. It was our simple miracle. I guess it’s also one of the first practices that parents should learn to truly listen to their children.
As children grow they’d learn to speak and share stories. They’ll speak their minds, sometimes it’s going to be silly, sometimes it’s going to be long, sometimes it’ll be full of question but what matters is that they feel heard. That we hear them however busy the world is, that we make them feel that the stories they share mean something to us. I also think that only through listening with our heart can we really teach our kids.
4.Keep in mind the memories of your childhood.
There are times that as parents we try to control our children. We control the way they behave, the way they talk and sometimes even the way they think. In my opinion, this is the main culprit of our frustrations. We try so much to make them into our own ideal vision of what or who a child should be that sometimes we forget that we also went through that phase. That as parents we need to remind ourselves that we were once kids. That our children will make mistakes, behave inappropriately, get stains, get bruises and all sort of other things we try to prevent and that it's okay. It is okay to be a kid and its okay for us parents to let go of some of these things. Just like us, lets give our children the space and time to grow and learn things by themselves.
5. It’s okay to make mistakes
"Nobody is perfect" Even us their parents. I feel that it is only realistic that our children will see us make mistakes. To hear us apologize for something we did wrong. Or to see us laugh at our bloopers. As parents, let us not give our children the idea or impression that everything we do is right. This is because they will think the same way with themselves when they grow up. If they feel their parents cannot say sorry or apologize then they will do the same. Saying sorry take a lot of guts from us parents and it's one of the biggest lesson we can teach and show our children.
6. Dream a bigger dream
I once had a facebook conversation with a friend in Canada. We were talking about how it felt for me as a new parent. He also asked me what I wanted my son to become when he grow up. I told him that I will just support my son whatever he wants to do in his life. I also told him I want to be able to help him grow up to be a good and principled man. I thought I had the best answer I could give and that somehow he would agree with me. But I was wrong.
He told me something that I would bring for the rest of my parent life. He told me to dream a bigger dream for my son. Hoping to have a good, educated and principled son is not enough to call me a good parent. He told me that I should dream for him, help him to be that dream, give him all possible options but also give him the final decision. He shared with me how his parents were when he was choosing a career and that he felt that he could have been guided more.
I am deeply grateful for this short but meaningful conversation that will probably change my son's life forever. At present, I want my son to be an engineer and I will try to give him opportunities to discover what he wants. If in the end he does not want to be an engineer I will be happy because I know that he has made his choice.
7. Be a friend but be a parent first.
I have always envisioned myself as my children's friend or barkada like in those teeny bopper shows I watch before. That my children will talk and confide to me everything about their life. I wanted to be the first person they go to, to laugh, to cry and pour their angers out. I wanted to be their friend. Although this is true, I've read in a parenting magazine before that it's easy to be our children's friends but difficult to be their parents. We should learn to recognize when our children need a friend and a parent. For instance, when our children make mistakes, we need to be their parent and to not be afraid for them to not like or hate us in that moment. After we make our point it is our time to be their friend again. I think there are moments where we need to switch on our parent buttons and switch off our friend button and vice versa. On which occasion to do so, is in our own judgement. The point is that we learn to be a friend but be a parent first.
8. Save Early
Saving is truly in my character as a person. When I was a little kid I had a piggy bank or should I say a Tweety bird bank which I carried until present. From the moment I knew I was pregnant I started saving for my baby. I've always wanted to be able to provide for my children with the quality that they deserve. A quality healthcare, education, celebrations, and opportunities in life. My hubby and I have started saving up for many things like his 1st birthday party, his schooling and some other stuff we would like to have for him.
The future we want for our children will need money. However hard we try to say that "Love will keep us alive", it is far from reality. Love can never put food in our children's stomach, or put them in a comfortable bed at night, or send them to school, etc., etc. This is practicality and it's as simple as saving.
9. Taking the inconveniences.
"A Lazy person cannot love." Learned this from a book I borrowed from a friend about marriage and I think it applies to being parents as well. As parents we must learn to put our conveniences at the end of the list and put our children's needs and conveniences on top priority. This means sacrifices on our part, on letting go of things that makes our life comfortable to make way for our children's sake.
10 . Growing up and getting better
Parenting is a lot of work and trial and error. We choose to learn from our everyday experience as parents. Let us allow ourselves to be taught by our children and to embrace that they have something we do not have. Growing up with our kids also means getting better people with them. I am grateful to have been surrounded by children who have taught me so many things about myself and life in general.