That’s it. I’ve decided. This is my reminder. My kids have more to teach me than I do them. My job is really just to help keep them alive (and hopefully thriving). They teach me how to live. Or is it re-teaching? Because I remember being like them, just a little. They are so curious. So eager and playful. So incredibly focused on what they want in each moment; filled with delight when they get it, and outrage when they don’t.
I still “correct” behavior that seems extreme. I forget and want to guide, convince, and yes, dictate kindness from time to time. I want my kids to grow up to be good and happy people. But more often than not these days, I wonder, should I behave more like them? Maybe I shouldn’t accept “no” as peacefully as I do?
My job is to keep them alive. And if I will let them, they teach me how to live.
Sure, they have lots of questions and I do teach them things; but at 4 and 5, they’ve already started to reach beyond what I know; beyond what any of us can really know. The more we talk and I listen to them, the more comfortable I feel saying things like, “I don’t know. No one does. What do you think?” Sometimes they come up with the most insightful and delightful responses; other times they look at me funny and bounce off to do the next fun thing.
Yes, in my five short (and long) years as a parent so far, I have learned that my real job is to keep my kids alive – food, water, hand-holding across the street while they’re tiny. Beyond that, I serve them best when I stay out of their way and let them play, explore, learn, and teach me their limits. I cannot count the times they have surprised me with what they are capable of. Despite all my motherly fretting, I know it’s really worth letting them have the freedom they demand as much as I can possibly stand.
When I allow it, they teach me the most important things. About love, trust, and the importance of fun, freedom and self direction. They love unconditionally, forgive easily, and play like it’s the only logical thing to do.
They teach me how to live.