People say we are a product of our environment. We shape the people that our children become. They see and hear everything we do and say, even when we don’t think they’re paying attention.

They have a strange way of being simultaneously aware of what’s happening and totally distracted at the same time. Being a mother has most definitely made me a better person. I strive to be the healthiest, most motivated and positive version of myself because that is what I want for my son. I practice self-love and self-care. I smile every morning and thank God for my blessings each night.

I’ll never forget the first time that my son actually uttered the words “thank you.” This was after months of me reminding him each time he received something to say “thank you.” I reinforced this concept so many times that he began using the phrase on his own and understanding the connection of when to use it.

This seems like such a simple example, but it’s a true testament to how much our children mirror our own behavior. We are their guides in life and act as a visual example of what they strive to be.

I am so thankful for my mother—the woman that she is today and the woman that she was while growing up. I am the mother that I am today because of her. What I find completely fascinating is that I’ve embodied many of my mother’s positive qualities but have also learned from her mistakes.

As I entered adulthood, I realized more and more how my upbringing has shaped who I am—in every aspect. The pressure to be perfect in contrast to my brother, who was in trouble often, has resulted in low self-esteem. The fact that my parents never allowed me to leave my comfort zone has made doing so now extremely difficult.

Dedicating their lives completely and solely to their role as parents meant they lost the bond and connection they once shared. I now reflect on and internalize all of these things. And I do this so that I can, hopefully, do better for my son.

Please, don’t misunderstand—my mother was an excellent mother and still is. But following in her footsteps meant shadowing her amazing attributes and learning from others.

My mother is kind, loving, affectionate and supportive. She is also extremely giving. Giving to the point of being borderline overindulgent. I never really saw it this way, but as I grew into adulthood I saw small signs that her desire to protect me was actually hindering me in certain ways. I was naive about a lot of things, mostly because I never had the chance to make mistakes and learn from them. My mother shielded me from this.

I never went away to college. My mother told me I didn’t need to, that it was too far, and why not stay home and commute to a local college? I know her intent was to keep me safe from all the things that college life can mean. But in the same turn, never experiencing time away from home or living alone meant missed opportunities and regret, later in life.

My mom doesn’t really understand the world’s fascination with social media and the internet—she can barely work her Gmail account. When I talk to her about website traffic, viral videos or sharing a post with friends, she looks at me as if I have multiple heads.

She doesn’t know about it and doesn’t want to know about it, therefore she never opens herself up to experience it. Instead, she shies away, never knowing the missed opportunities there might be in her inability to be vulnerable.

When I was younger, I approached things in the same manner. If my mom said it was “bad” or “wrong,”  it must be. So, I closed my mind off to the possibility of anything else. But a closed mind is such a dangerous thing.

Now, as I get older and watch my son grow, I realize how important it is to show him the wide range of possibilities and opportunities that life has to offer. I’ve also begun to let my guard down a bit and not be too quick to judge a particular situation.

So, rest assured that though our children will learn from our accomplishments, life lessons and the morals and values we instill in them, they’ll also learn from our mistakes. And sometimes, learning from mistakes is even more meaningful.

So instead of worrying that your mistakes will negatively impact your child, take solace in the fact that they’ll likely act as irreplaceable life lessons for you both.
Featured Photo Courtesy: Cami Talpone via Unsplash