In my daughter’s eyes, I can see the future,
A reflection of who I am and what will be,
And though she’ll grow and someday leave,
Maybe raise a family,
When I’m gone I hope you see,
How happy she made me,
For I’ll be there, In my daughter’s eyes
I was on my daily run this week, plugged into my iPhone run mix and one of my favorite songs began to play, In My Daughter’s Eyes, by Martina McBride. It’s just the perfect song for every mom/daughter in the Universe. It made me think about how much I’ve learned from being a mother, how much it changed who I am and what I want out of my life.
I became a mom and then became a single mom and then became a married mother of four. None of it was easy and the adjustments were not overnight but what a beautiful gift I’ve been given. Not a day goes by that I don’t stop to appreciate this gift. And just when you think you have motherhood all figured out, it changes and you realize this is a continual learning process. Motherhood has changed my life forever and I am deeply and sincerely moved each time I watch my children live their lives, make new friends, set off on new adventures and navigate life’s challenges.
While I was running and listening to the Martina McBride song, it occurred to me there are some very specific things I’ve learned from being a mother. Here’s my top five:
1. Always Listen
I’ve learned to listen. I’m not naturally a good listener because I love to talk. I’m a talker, its genetic, my whole family is like this; we just talk and talk and talk. But when you’re a mom, you absolutely must listen. The key is, however, to listen to not only what is being said but also more importantly, what’s not being said. I’ve learned to quiet my mind, because frankly it never stops, and listen to my children, my husband, even my staff and myself. As a mother you see and hear many things from your children and if you listen well, you will hear what they are not saying. You will learn to hear what is in their heads and in their hearts. It takes some time but it becomes an innate sense that develops almost without your knowing. And suddenly, one day, you hear and see things that are vital to helping your child through a difficult situation. And learning to truly listen becomes a permanent part of you.
2. Celebrate Individuality
Every child is different and although I didn’t actually give birth to three of my children, I love them dearly and enjoy watching how all four choose to navigate life’s challenges in their own way. They are not me, or their dad and that is something I continually remind myself. They all need something a little different from us and learning this is key to any parent’s successful parent/child relationship. It also creates self-confidence, tolerance, and patience and allows everyone to excel at their gifts. I’ve applied this to not only my family but in my professional life as well. The benefits are endless.
3. Learn to Pick Your Battles
So, this one is big for me because I’m fairly set in my ways, after all I do have a lifetime of experience, right? Ha! When it comes to kids, never, never underestimate the zoo like situations that may ensue during your life with them. Save yourself some time and agony by learning to pick your battles. I fought this for a while and then realized when my daughter was much younger that maybe it’s a good idea to let some things go, the harmless things, and when needed focus on the bigger issues. This was such a big lesson for me that I almost ranked it right under “Always Listen”. I can look back now and say with confidence; learning to pick my battles has served me well as a mother, a wife, a friend and a professional.
4. Unconditional Love
It’s amazing the kind of love you feel when you have a child. It’s unlike any other kind of love that exists. I’ve been upset, angry, disappointed but at the end of the day, I love my children unconditionally. I’m fascinated by the fact that I can love them so unconditionally, so deeply and yet at the same time feel frustration or disappointment. These feelings coexist and I’m sure they coexist for a reason. I think this is ever-present to help us as mothers, guide our kids with love instead of judgment or anger. I think it’s divine design and is the reason humanity always references “a mother’s love”.
5. The Art of Letting Go
All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. ~Havelock Ellis
Life is a series of events that sometimes requires us to dig deep and let go. Letting go of hurt, anger, sadness and insecurity is not easy. Typically a major life event has contributed to one or more of these feelings and as adults we tend to hang on to the bad stuff a bit longer than kids do. For instance, I’m sometimes taken back by how much kids just want everything to be “alright”. When they fight with friends or even parents they are much easier to forgive and forget than we are. They tend to adapt to change, to accept life as it is and make the best of things even when it doesn’t meet their expectations. I love seeing this attribute in my kids. They’ve each experienced sadness and disappointment but they’ve managed to get through. And although it took some time, they subconsciously or perhaps consciously refused to let life’s obstacles get them down. It’s a beautiful reminder to me that the “art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on”.