Mornings are hectic affairs in our house. My husband leaves by 6:00 - 6:30 a.m. to get to the office, and I commute close to an hour for work. Our schedules have naturally created a toddler who rises with the sun. I am so jealous of my friends with kids who actually sleep in on the weekends. Sleeping in for us is 6:30 a.m., maybe 7 a.m. if we are super, super lucky.
I try to be proactive to make morning chaos a little less overwhelming. I usually pack my daughter’s clothes for the day the night before. Lay out a diaper, socks and shoes for transporting her from our home to my mom who, bless her heart, is our daycare provider, and gather all my work belongings, setting everything near the front door.
We are at a great age where my 2-year-old can entertain herself with toys while I get ready for work. As I did a final look over on the items that needed to head out the door with us, I called out to my daughter, Lo, asking her to come on. She obliged, and when I turned to grab her and run out the door, the picture above is what greeted me at the end of the hall. My reaction was to quickly snatch all the accessories off of her, but instead I stopped, I smiled and I laughed. “You look beautiful!”
“Like my necklace?” she asked.
My idea of presentable nearly destroyed her proud moment, so thank goodness I hesitated, took a deep breath and decided to roll with Lo’s punches.
10 Life Lessons I Learned From My Toddler:
1. Kindness matters.
Okay, who here watches the Sprout channel? Hands, hands? “Kindness is a muscle,” you know the song. My daughter jumps and dances every time it comes on and sings along. There is a reason children’s entertainment is teaching our youth the value in caring and kindness. One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes is, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Now, re-read that again. Think about some of the biggest fights with your spouse, best friend, parent, sibling, co-worker. Do you remember the words? No. Not really, maybe a phrase or two. You cannot recount the dialogue, but you can recount the anger, the heartache, the walking away and thinking, “things will never be the same.” I have had those moments, and I have those memories. When we feel devalue, hurt and sadness, we remember and carry it with us. Life is about empathy, and being kind is the greatest gift you can give to others.
2. Life is not fair, but it is still good.
No, life is not fair. We all learn this lesson one way or another, and yet we learn this lesson time and time again. It is the lesson that keeps giving, if you will. My daughter’s example of not fair usually occurs in a grocery store when many eyes are upon us and she melts down when I tell her, “no” or remove the M&M’s from the grips of her small hands. She cries. Sometimes screams and slithers to the floor to pull a dead weight move on me, but by the time we are in the car and I turn on the “Moana” soundtrack, she is smiling, wiggling her body and singing to the beats. When we pull into our driveway, the unfair moment is a mere memory.
3. Cry with someone, not alone.
When my 2-year-old falls, tumbles climbing, runs into a wall, you name it, and those tears flow from her face and down her round cheeks, she never sits there alone. No, she comes running into the arms of someone nearby for comfort. It is a lesson we all should embrace. Life’s hardest moments are easier when we seek the love from others through words, prayers or just silent companionship. Don’t suffer through something alone.
4. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it.
“Mommy, can I get this?” As we walk the toy aisle. The answer is usually no, but sometimes it is yes. “Mommy, ice cream?” Sometimes her question leads to a spontaneous moment like ice cream on the patio of an ice cream shop just before dinner.
In life, when you don’t ask the questions, you never know the answers. Sometimes opportunity will not present itself if you don’t make others know your wants, needs and intentions.
5. Material possessions won’t make you happy.
Christmas morning, when all the gifts are open and wrapping paper lays across the living room floor, I looked over and she was stacking cardboard boxes that the toys came in. As the shiny new toys lay on the ground, she laughed, throwing paper in the air.
I feel like this is one life lesson you may all relate with the most. Our children are simple creatures. They find happiness in themselves ― something we tend to lose as we become adults.
6. Hard work pays off.
A newborn, infant and toddler are hardworking beings. Think about everything they must learn and master at such a young age. They learn to crawl before they walk and run and cry out before they babble and speak. Hard work truly pays off for our little kiddies. They handle learning and the “work” with ease. It comes so natural because there is no other way.
It is true for us as adults too, but the difference is we become lazy in the process. Hard work is the only way to succeed. Yes, luck exists, but it is the one who believes and works hard that really prospers.
7. Never stop learning.
This life lesson really plays off of the one mentioned before, but it is a life lesson we measure as it relates to school. Learning does not need to mean classwork and enrollment in a trade school or college. Learning can mean reading a book or newspaper, attending a seminar or sitting down with an elder and asking questions and listening. I learn so much from my parents and grandparents alone. The person who seeks more in life through knowledge is someone who knows and understands that to learn we morph and grow.
8. Be honest.
Nothing is truer than the words spoken from a child. They hold nothing back and tell it like they mean it. How endearing of a quality? Honesty is a solid characteristic that adults seem to scamper from. We worry about what others will think of us through our honesty. I say own it. If you cannot take on more, say it. If you feel something in your gut, express it. When you want to take a chance, embrace it. Honesty leads to great and powerful things.
9. Your attitude is everything.
My 2-year-old is happy, carefree and excited about life. Except for moments of exhaustion, when meltdowns occur, she is a pleasant child and a joy to be around. Your attitude is everything. The way you see your life and the world exists within your own mind. No one can change that for you.
10. Live life without worrying what others think.
Seriously?! Look at this picture above. This wholeheartedly sums up this lesson. Walk out that door today in that bright purple coat and do not worry what people think. Cut and dye your hair in that style you have always wanted, go do that crazy thing you have been dreaming of, or go out for dinner and drinks by yourself and meet someone new. Any crazy thing, little or small, that you ever wanted to do but felt the perception of others was holding you back? DO IT! Because guess what? At the end of the day when you are brushing your teeth and starring at that person in the mirror, the happiness train, well, it only matters if you feel it inside.
This post originally appeared on the Blog Backwards N High Heels.