I’m a mother to two wonderful boys, ages four and seven. As a mom, I never stop learning. I’ve made mistakes and had some triumphs. I’ve had days that I’ve felt clueless, and days I’ve felt like a pro. I write blog posts not because I think I’m an expert, but because I enjoy sharing the journey of motherhood. A journey that’s rewarding, yet challenging. So I’m sharing this post with all of you! Twenty invaluable lessons my boys have taught me so far. Here goes!
1. They need their dad. The older my boys get, the more I see how much they look to their father for guidance. Whether they’re learning to properly groom themselves, or how to make a woman feel appreciated, they’re watching my husband and taking notes. When my husband brushes his hair, I notice my boys want to brush their hair the same way. When my husband thanks me for cooking dinner, my boys mimic him and also express their appreciation. They pay me nice compliments, help carry grocery bags into the house, they do all the wonderful things their father does. They are truly blessed to have such a great example to model after.
2. It’s okay to have a messy house. Let’s not confuse the term mess with sanitation. Sanitation is a must! But I know I’m not the only mom who can sometimes get so busy that tidying up goes by the wayside. I love a tidy home just like the next person but, honestly, some days it’s either load the dishwasher at 1am or go to sleep. I choose sleep! Sometimes, I send my kids to bed and forget to have them put away their toys. Sometimes the laundry piles up in the washroom. These are the situations that once stressed this neat-freak out. But I’ve realized that my children still think I’m a wonderful mommy even when the dishes are piled up in the sink.
3. Dressing boys can be fun! There’s so much talk about how fun it is to dress little girls. And rightfully so, the girls’ department is full of cute options. But as a mom of two boys, I must say I’ve had so much fun dressing them. No, they don’t get to wear ballet dresses and pink bows. But, once I learned where to shop, I’ve found that clothing for boys can be just as adorable.
4. Our family is complete. Some families don’t feel complete unless they have at least one child of each sex. For this reason, some people often ask if I’ll try for a girl. But my boys have shown me that our family is perfect the way it is. My boys bring me so much joy. They have my heart totally and completely. I’m so proud of who they are and am excited about their bright future. No, I don’t have gender disappointment. No, I don’t want any more children. I’m getting more rest and able to be more productive now that my boys are older. I won’t start over for the sake of having a girl. My husband and I are content with the healthy children God blessed us with.
5. I’m beautiful. My eldest son always tells me I’m beautiful, even on the days when I’ve put zero effort into my looks. This led me to eventually ask him what he thought was beautiful about me. His reply? I’m beautiful because I fix him snacks and hang out with him. My son taught me a valuable lesson that day: Beauty is love. It is often reflected in the things we do for others, not in the effort we put forth to look a certain way. To my son, I’m beautiful because I love and take care of him. And I’m constantly reminded not to let my outer appearance take precedence over the beauty within.
6. I’m not better than other moms. Not that I thought I ever was, per se. But sometimes there were moments when I’ve judged another mom for something her kids did, and then found myself in the very same predicament. How humbling! It took my boys a time or two to have a public tantrum before I realized, no, that other mom’s kids weren’t misbehaving because she never taught them good manners. Perhaps they were misbehaving because that’s what kids do sometimes—test their boundaries. Let’s face it, every kid has had their moment. And if your kid hasn’t, then I’m gonna need for you to write a book about how you managed to raise such perfect children so I can buy it!
7. My words speak volumes. When speaking to my boys, I have to be careful of what I say and how I say it. At their impressionable age, what I say has the potential to become their identity when they’re older. If I say they’re ungrateful, they’ll believe they’re ungrateful. If I say they don’t know how to follow instructions, they’ll believe that to be true. One day I asked my eldest son why he didn’t put his toys away like I’d asked. His reply was, “I guess I just don’t know how to follow instructions.” What a wakeup call! Since then, I’ve learned to refer to the child’s behavior, rather than the child’s character when correcting them.
8. My actions speak even greater volumes. There are times when my words hold significance, and then there are times when my actions hold greater significance. I’ve learned not to punish my child for acting just like me. If I tell one child not to yell at another, yet I myself have a yelling problem, I’m teaching my children that being hypocritical is okay. Instead, I work on myself, and let my children know that I’m working on myself. That way, they serve as my accountability and we can grow in character together.
9. Being transparent strengthens relationships. I’m very transparent with my kids, especially with my eldest. They know about my mistakes, my shortcomings, my faith, my victories, and much more. I don’t bombard them with every detail, as some things should be shared when they’re older, but I do let my kids know that I’m not perfect and still learning. I also apologize if I’ve wronged them. Whenever I have these kinds of talks with my 7-year-old, I find we grow closer. In turn, he feels safe to share his feelings with me. It’s my hope that I develop this kind of relationship with my youngest son as well.
10. They’re wiser than I think. I can’t keep up with how many times my kids have surprised me with their wisdom. Sometimes, I even think my boys are wiser than me. One day, my eldest son refused to eat a snack I gave him. When I asked him why, he replied, “There’s too much sugar in this. This isn’t going to help my kidneys. I need vegetables instead.” Likewise, my youngest son constantly asks me to draw shapes I’ve never heard of. Like seriously, what’s a dodecahedron? Ask my 4-year-old, he’ll tell you.
11. They’re different people. Just when I thought I was an expert mom, my youngest son comes into the world and sends me desperately reaching for more parenting books. He’s not a textbook child. I love that about him. When my children were babies, my eldest son took to the cry-it-out method like a pro. But, after two failed CIO attempts, it was clear that my youngest son felt the most secure sleeping with mommy and daddy. To this day, they require different approaches when it comes to parenting. I’ve learned that one approach is never better than the other, just more effective for a different type of child, for different reasons.
12. I can’t control them. My kids are their own person. They are who they are and they like what they like—even if I don’t like it. Either I can try and control them by not allowing them to be themselves, or I can accept that they don’t have to be exactly like me or fit the mold of who I think they should be. They are very strong-willed individuals. I’ve decided to focus on how to help them exercise this trait in a healthy manner, rather than trying to minimize it.
13. All kids learn at different paces. Having more than one child, I know this to be true. My youngest son walked, talked, and potty-trained much earlier than my eldest. Likewise, my eldest son’s fine motor skills were more advanced than my preschooler’s. It doesn’t matter how long it takes them to reach a milestone, they’ll eventually get there. Their achievements are not indicators of how intelligent they’ll be. When my eldest was a toddler, some were concerned about his speech delay. Now, you can’t shut the boy up! And his vocabulary is excellent.
14. I’ll never understand their bond. Sometimes I intervene when my boys are fighting, just to discover they’re both actually having a good time. Their arguments turn into laughter, and their laughter turns into arguments. Their hugs turn into body-slams, and their body-slams turn into hugs. Most days, I can’t tell if they love each other or hate each other. But what I do understand is that they have a special brotherhood, and this is all a necessary part of the bonding process.
15. I need to take care of myself. As a mom, naturally I put my children’s needs before my own. But then I remembered what people are instructed to do in the event of lost cabin pressure on an airplane—place the oxygen mask on yourself first before you assist others. Of course, as a mom, this is easier said than done. But I find that when I put this philosophy into practice, I’m a better mom because of it. If I’m not eating the right foods, getting enough sleep, or releasing negative energy, I won’t be able to manage my household to the best of my ability. Instead, I’d be nutrient deficient, tired, and weighed down. A recipe for a disaster!
16. I had a vision before I met them. Some call it dreams, goals, aspirations. Whatever it is, I had it—before I met my kids. I’ve learned that being a mother does not mean you have to throw away your dreams. In fact, being a mother should give you the inspiration to pursue those dreams more fervently. I mean, what I do with my time now will impact their future, right? But before I packed my bags to travel the world, I had to learn my next lesson…
17. There’s a season for everything. Yes! Everything under the sun. As a young woman, I lived a pretty adventurous life. I spent a lot of my time on an airplane, and I got to visit many places both overseas and in-country. By the time I completed undergrad, I was tired of flying! I was ready to settle down and be a wife and mom. However, as my kids grew older and more independent, I noticed that I was still stuck in the season of being a new mom. Now that I was getting adequate rest at night, it was time for me to enter a new season and start investing more time into my aspirations. Not all at once! Season by season.
18. I have a personality they should know about. You see, there are things about me that my boys should just know. My talents. Hobbies. Interests. I’ve met some people who don’t really know or understand what their parents do for a living—or even what their parents’ favorite color is. They have no idea that their mom can sing sweet tunes, or that their dad can tear up the dance floor. Sometimes, we can make our lives so separate from our children that we run the risk of them not really knowing who we truly are. So, yea, my boys are hip to many things about me. Especially the fact that I like to make a song out of EVERYTHING!
19. They have a purpose. How great is it to know that we all have a purpose here on this earth! Before my children were born, I prayed constantly to know what wonderful things God would do through them. I understand that they are not here just to please me. Nor are they here to serve as my report card for parenting—to brag about every little thing they’ve accomplished due to my “awesomely perfect” parenting skills. While my husband and I enjoy being their parents, we understand that our boys are here for a reason and we raise them accordingly.
20. Live in the moment. Every night, I walk into my boy’s room and kiss them goodnight. I linger there for a few minutes and watch them sleep. I whisper a little prayer. There, in their room, I let go of all their offenses. The arguing. The yelling. The mess. The pee on the bathroom floor. The disobedience. The stubbornness. The tantrums. All of that and more. I do this because they’ve taught me how quickly time escapes us. It didn’t seem that long ago that I was doing this exact thing as each of them slept peacefully in their crib. And, now, each night their legs seem to grow longer as they stretch across their beds. I like to remember them just like this, taking in every detail of their tiny faces every night. I know sometimes life can feel chaotic, but in these moments I remember to just live. Just breathe. Just enjoy it. Because I can’t ever get this time back.
Now, it’s your turn! What invaluable lessons have your kids taught you? Let us know down below!