It seems like the older I get, the more realize that I have so much to learn in this life. Sometimes learning can often come in the least expected places. Recently, I reflected on the many life lessons I have learned from my two toddler boys.
1. If you really want something, go for it. Reach for the stars – or the ginger bread house.
If I could attach one word to my oldest son, Caleb, it would be “determination.” If Caleb puts his mind to something, he almost always achieves it; no matter what potential road blocks there might be. Many of us have this little thing called “baggage.” Overtime, our failures pile up, or disappointments too easily entangle us, and our insecurities shine above all us.
It becomes suffocating.
“I can’t,” and “what if I fail?” becomes our mantra.
Maybe it’s time to set loose the passionate drive of a toddler and abandon the baggage.
2. Stop being such a know it all. My boys love to ask questions and are very curious learners. What’s that? How does it work? How do you put that together? Why? How come? My favorite, most recent question that my three year old asked: “Mommy, why did Jesus give me nipples?” But seriously, I love being around learners – I love being around lifelong learners. Maybe it’s time to abandon the “I –have-so-much-knowledge- to-offer-the-world” mentality and become a learner. Look around you, what can you learn from your neighbor? A lot, I am sure. You just have to listen.
3. Anytime there is music just dance.
Anytime there is a beat, my boys drop whatever they are doing to dance. In church, in the store, in the car, in the shower, in bed, at the dinner table, anytime, anywhere, my boys cut a rug. I must say, they aren’t bad at dancing either. What amazes me the most is they don’t care where they are or who is watching. They dance as if no one is watching and as if everyone is watching. Just the other day, as I was watching my boys giggle and dance in the family room, I had an epiphany. I take life way to seriously. So I joined them, and I danced my heart out. It was a blast.
4. Marvel at the mundane .Both of my boys love the moon. Anytime we are outside after the sun sets, one of them will usually passionately point towards the sky and exclaim, “LOOK! It’s the moon! It’s the moon! Look! The moon! The moon!” My husband and I will usually respond, “yes, that’s right buddy, the moon!”
When did we stop looking for the moon? At some point in our lives, things like the moon, the stars, the sun, the birds, and the flowers become <yawn> normal. Been there. Seen that. It’s just the moon.
Um, hello, It’s the moon! You know, a giant glowing rock that orbits the earth every 27 days.
5. Slow down. Just. Slow. Down.
I am always in a hurry and I am pushing my boys right along. Almost every day I am proclaiming to my children, “Come on! We’re late! We’re late! We have to go!” Usually, they look at me as though I have a 3rd eyeball as if to say, “chill out, lady!” I do need to chill out. Every morning I wake up with my to-do list consuming my brain. I have papers to write, books to read, research to do, a house to clean, meals to cook, pastoral calls to make, emails to check, parties to plan, texts to respond to, phone calls to make, blogs to read, places to drive, things to buy…and it goes on. Deep breath. No wonder why I never notice the moon. I need to slow down, and smell the roses.
6.Stop being so serious and belly laugh everyday.
Nothing brings a bigger smile to my face than hearing my boys laugh from their bellies. My kids know how to laugh. Just the other day, as I was watching both of them laugh hysterically and I had to ask myself, when was the last time I laughed like this? I couldn’t remember. Laughing is one of the best medicines. I always feel better after a really great laugh. I bet you would, too.
7. See the royalty in everyone. About 6 months ago, Caleb found my tiara from when I was on homecoming court at Olivet Nazarene University. He pulled it out from the drawer, slowly looked at me with his big blue eyes, looked at the tiara again, and looked back up at me and said, “My mommy is a princess?!” To which I responded, “Yes, my little darling. Why yes she is.” In that moment, I was a princess in my son’s eyes.
How often do we only see the downright negative in a person? In fact, not only do we see the negative, but we look for it! There’s something about seeing the ugly in someone else that makes us feel better about ourselves.
Stop that. Just. Stop.
Next time you talk to someone, look for the royalty. Look for the beauty. Look, and you will see a beautiful prince or princess of the Most High.
8. A good snuggle makes everything better.
My boys are snuggle hogs. I am not complaining about this at all. I love to snuggle. Whether it’s after a small boo boo to the knee after a fall, or right before bed, my boys are always up for a good snuggle. There are some days that I am overwhelmed by everything that comes at me. But something happens when one of my boys burrow into a tiny ball on my lap and lay their sweet heads on my chest. When I wrap my arms around them, in that moment, everything that I was worried about disappears. Sometimes, we pray when we snuggle, other times I sing to them, and other times we just snuggle in the silence. A good snuggle makes everything better.
9. Own your inner rock star hair…or whatever.
Have you ever noticed that a child couldn’t care less what they look like? My boys would waltz out the door every day with mismatched clothes and untamed hair. OK, I’m not advocating that we stop combing our hair and mismatching our clothes.
But could it be that sometimes we care just a little too much? I know I do.