When you become a parent for the first time, you begin to question everything you do in relation to your child. I created this new precious life and I don't want to screw it up. When Emma was born, she stole our hearts. She turned our world upside down and she had us all wrapped around her little finger. The questions began in my head almost immediately. Does she need to eat? What does that sound mean? Does she recognize me? Then, how long has she been in that wet diaper? Can I feed her fruits yet? How important are baby music classes? What's her favorite song going to be?
The questions never stop. Granted, as time progresses, you begin to relax a little more, moving from overtly cautions, helicopter parenting (been there, done that) to "That's ok if she ate that dirt... It'll be good for her immune system!" (I'm a nurse, come on, every kid needs a little dirt, right?)
This past weekend, I watched Emma at her last ice skating lesson. But, I didn't just watch her as a parent sits and watches their child's activity. I really watched her. I studied her moves. Her interactions with the class and her mannerisms. And I began to question my parenting again. Is she being kind to the other kids? Is she listening to her instructor? Is she having fun? Have I taught her the right lessons to be someone she can be proud of all of her life?
There's nothing that can prepare you for that moment as a parent when you look at your child, you look into those same big eyes that first looked into yours minutes after they took their first breaths, and you see them changing. You see them growing right before your very own eyes. As a mom to three girls, I take pride in my children. That they have followed directions for the most part, that their manners are pretty exceptional, and that they are compassionate. And although they may fight with one another at home, their interactions in the outside world are something we don't always see as much when they go to school or when they're involved in outside activities. It brought me joy to see Emma smiling and laughing with other girls in her ice skating group.
I think we get so wrapped up in what everyone else is doing, what society is doing, what "they" tell us to do on TV and in books and on Dr. Phil that we don't take the time to stop, look at our kids, and teach them the basics. What our parents taught us. What we grew up doing, and how we learned simple lessons that got us through to adulthood and made us the responsible grown ups we are now. At least, responsible enough to be in charge of another little person (or three, in my case).
Many of the life lessons we've taught Emma, I learned in kindergarten. Use your manners. Be kind to your friends. Share. Say you're sorry when you're in the wrong. Include everyone, exclude no one. Smile. Be polite. Eat your vegetables.
We've added a few of our own, too:
Don't forget where you came from.
Love with all your heart.
Don't give up, you are capable of more than you think.
Don't be afraid to try something new. Ice skating in Emma's case.
Stay young, don't be so eager to grow up too fast.
Be YOU. Don't compromise who you are to be something that you're not.
Emma is an amazing kid. We're very blessed. She loves hard, she learns quickly, and her laugh is contagious. She's not afraid to get out of her comfort zone and she's learning that her confidence is a good thing.
Her teacher recently told us that she's all inclusive. She plays with kids at school who are playing alone. She invites others to join, and she interacts evenly with all students, boys and girls. As a parent, that makes you feel good. Knowing that amid the chaos, the crazy, the business, the homework, the extracurricular activities, and general day to day life, I must be doing something right.