In their speech at my wedding and at my brother’s wedding, my parents talked about how they had “grown up” with us, how they had learned important lessons with — and through — us. I didn’t truly understand those words until I became a mom. When I got married, I thought I was an adult. I thought I was clear on who I was, that I had a good handle on how to deal with most situations, and that my life experiences so far had prepared me for raising kids. But when I look at the past seven years and how my children have affected me, I realize they have taught me more about myself and the way I approach the world than I could ever have imagined.
My daughter and my son have allowed me to re-examine my own belief system and — through witnessing their interactions with the world around them, I have gained deeper insight into some pretty important life lessons. I once joked with a friend of mine that, with young kids, every day is like a philosophy class. My children offer me daily reminders of ways to live but there are two lessons in particular they have taught me that have changed my world.
Living in the present with all our emotions
The world through a child’s eyes is one of curiosity, imagination, endless possibilities. My kids get engrossed in an activity, a conversation or an experience without distraction. They also let themselves feel their emotions, instinctively, without trying to shut them down and — because they are able to let their feelings out — they are quick to move on from a situation.
As a yoga teacher, I have always felt I lived with awareness, and was able to be present. But in witnessing the openness and honesty of my kids, I see that in many situations I’ve tried to try to fit my reactions into certain “ways of behaving,” I’ve often manipulated my feelings, or shut them down. And this is when resentments build or issues come out sideways because they haven’t been addressed. It’s also very easy to get caught up in to-do lists, what’s next on the day’s agenda, or worries that take me outside of the present moment. I am so thankful for my children for constantly reminding me of the freedom, simplicity and emotional honesty of living right here, right now.
Failure as something separate from ourselves
Both of my kids have experienced small failures. But, this year, my six-year old went through a difficult time that left me trying to explain to her how failure can be a positive thing. As I was reassuring her that whether she failed or not, she is still the same little girl that I love, that this “failure” didn’t do anything to change the person she is, I experienced a massive realization in my own life. That failing at something doesn’t define me. It doesn’t mean that I, myself, am a failure. I just simply “failed at something.” Regardless of what I have achieved or what I have failed at, I am and always will be — at the core — the same me. The act of failing is something separate from myself. As I sat on my daughter’s bed, I was in awe of how I had made it into adulthood without understanding or being able to articulate this seemingly simple premise.
In some cultures it is believed that your children choose you when they come into this world. If this is true, I am supremely lucky my children picked me. And I am so thankful for what they teach me every day.