There is no manual when it comes to raising children, we just learn each day and evolve with each passing week, month and year.
I lead my parenting as I lead my life, throwing the 'rule book' out of the window. I'm guided by passion, intuition and a profound love for life. We have ice cream for supper, we go outside for walks around the pond at dusk, we purposely dance in the rain even after a bath, we have lunch for breakfast and enjoy whip cream out of the can. We dance in the kitchen, sleep in the fort and keep our holiday lights up until April. Maybe it's the beauty of being a single parent, not having to conform to someone else's agenda but we always live in the present moment which allows us to change direction at any given time. We don't have to live by a strict plan, I have nothing more important than reading those five extra books at bedtime. We don't go a day without thanking the universe for the beauty of the day and the experience we got to create.
But I tell you, I have this brilliant, engaging, charming toddler who prefers avocados over ice pops and catching frogs over a trip to the toy store. He didn't even step inside a toy store until he was two and a half years old when Mema visited recently (thanks mom!). He shines, and shows respect to everyone he meets. I'm so proud that he is my son and that I am his mom. Just yesterday he asked me "why are you so proud of me mommy?" I want him to know that I am proud of him and question the things I say. I replied "because you are trying to learn something new, you are brave and you are so sweet."
I would never convey to anyone that my way in which I parent is better or that theirs isn't. We are all in this together, raising the next generation. But as an observer I do feel sadness sometimes for the parents that are over-stressing their strict schedules, nagging their kids at the beach to not get sand on the towel and debating with their children to get them to eat a morsel of vegetables at a restaurant in that very moment with negative reinforcement. Not only sad for them for not simply realizing the beauty of the moment, but sad for the child for being the recipient of stressful energy.
I have found that being fully present and giving the best gifts you can give to your child truly is the most valuable: time, good energy and patience. And what you get in return is a life fully lived, a child who has the ability to thrive and grow independent thinking. Time is precious, and I know that deeply as a full time working single parent. But we have to layer in profound lessons that will build a healthy foundation for our children.
While I hope to teach my son so many things in life, right now these are my top 5 for establishing a strong foundation.
When my son thanked the sun for opening the lily flowers the other day it warmed my heart in the most satisfying of ways. Another one that stands out still from last Christmas was him thanking Santa for the lights on the tops of the building that light our town which he could see from driving up our hill at night. At two years old he put it together that there is a connection to things and he showed that he appreciated it. Gratitude is everything, give it generously. (It costs nothing and gives so many rewards)
The essence of life is truly love. I want my son to know he is loved, to feel it and know that with love all things are possible. We talk about it, express it and show it to everyone and everything in our lives. Children are love. They only learn to hate as a result of our environment. It is my life-long duty to teach him love, and for him to know that I will always love him no matter what.
It's so important to teach our children to listen. To hear and feel how others are truly doing, what they are trying to say. I want my son to recognize the importance of how others feel and to know that he can make a difference in their lives by being kind and giving his time.
We all know, this is just so important. I talk to my son about everything and I make it a focus to explain things. Yes, he is a toddler but the time is now to build these foundations for life. It's only natural to make mistakes and I want to exemplify the importance of always being honest, with everyone. That the only way to evolve is to be honest and reflect.
For people, nature, animals, toys, books and the gift of each day. Respect is taught and learned through example. This world is so caught up in rushing, it is so important to teach our children to slow down and always show respect. I will teach my son to hold doors, smile often, thank the skies for the rain and to always be kind to everyone that crosses his path.
All five of these things are interconnected and provide such a strong foundation for raising my son. I'm constantly in awe of how sweet, loving and intelligent he is at such a young age. Our children deserve our guidance in the purest form, and they deserve the chance to become independent thinkers. I encourage you to embrace the present moment and just sit back and be in awe of the brilliance of your child. For they see, hear and feel on such a deeper level than one would imagine.