Before my daughter was born, my husband and I wrote her a song called “Wise Teacher.” We knew she would teach us a lot by coming into our lives. It’s hard to remember her wisdom sometimes when she is picking her nose and handing it to me or when she is throwing an epic tantrum because I ran out of bananas and offered an apple instead.
But, there is no doubt that becoming the mother to this little being has totally transformed me. Here are some of the unexpected things I learned from her.
1. I have to prioritize caring for myself in order to care for her.
This girl is a high energy, high maintenance little force of nature. As sweet as she can be, caring for her every day gets exhausting. If I don’t deeply care for my physical, mental and emotional parts, I will burn out. I have to meditate. I have to get in nature. I have to journal and go to therapy. I have to eat well. I have to prioritize sleep. I have to take baths, feel my feelings and get out to have some fun on my own.
I have to do all that and more in order to be well-resourced and rested enough to be the best mom possible for her.
2. Meltdowns are not just for toddlers.
Even with all my self-care routines, sometimes it just gets to be too much for me. Running a business and raising a child is an epic juggling challenge. Sometimes I drop a ball or two and that can lead to an emotional meltdown for me. But, just like with toddlers, it’s not actually a big deal.
My emotional tantrums are a natural part of life, a release valve when the pressure gets too high. And, just like I love her through her big emotions, I too am lovable and worthy of support in my meltdowns. They don’t mean I am bad, wrong or crazy. They are a show of my vulnerable humanness and it’s ok.
3. It’s okay to need people.
Obviously my tiny daughter needs us. We dress her, feed her, comfort her, play with her, make sure she doesn’t die, etc. And obviously I needed my parents that much too. But somewhere along the way I decided it wasn’t ok or a good idea to need people. I tried to be so independent, to not care if I didn’t have someone there for me, to not rely on anyone.
Eventually that all backfired and I realized I am actually stronger with the support and connection of others. But, that realization is still landing fully in my body and life. Seeing my daughter receive our care and love and experiencing her needing us so fully helps me deeply remember and accept that I need people to help and care for me, too. And that’s okay. It’s actually great and really natural.
4. When I follow my passions, everyone wins.
When I first started this motherhood thing, I felt like I had to give up things I really loved doing and creating in order to be a good mom. But what I learned from raising my daughter, is that when I leave her in the care of someone else so I can do something I love, like write or give a healing session or create music, it is great for all.
My daughter gets a chance to be loved by and bond with another family or community member, the caregiver gets blessed with a really fun and nurturing time with my awesome kid and I get filled up inside with the glow of creative vitality that only comes from pursing my true passions and doing my creative work in the world.
Then, my relationship with my husband is better because my vitality is flowing, my daughter benefits because I am able to be more present and attentive to her when I am done and I get the absolute joy of feeling like I really can have it all without guilt, which also benefits my health and stress levels.
5. Running around naked is the best feeling ever.
Ok, bare with me on this one. Before or after bath time, if we let her, my daughter will streak up and down the halls of our house naked, laughing and shrieking with joy. She absolutely, unabashedly loves it. Yes, I like being naked too, but where I’m going with this is more metaphorical.
By baring my soul, by sharing my raw truth, by being nakedly vulnerable with my emotions and insides, life becomes a lot more thrilling and fun. Being transparent and authentic is the best feeling ever. Instead of hiding parts of myself or pretending to be something I’m not, I’ve gotten incredibly honest in my motherhood journey. I tell the truth, I share the hard parts and the real details of my journey. I let it all hang out.
And, just like my little naked daughter, people love me even more for it. I inspire others to get more naked in their truth and life is way more interesting, connective and fulfilling.
So, those are a few of the unexpected things I’ve learned from raising my daughter. I know this girl and this journey of motherhood will continue to teach and inspire me in ways I don’t even know yet. She’s only a toddler, after all.
We have a lot of growing and learning to do together in this life. But, through all the ages and stages, I commit to learning from her as much or more than I teach, to stay humble as a student of life and to receive all the wisdom I can from my little wise teacher.