I’ve always known that a big part of being a parent is teaching your child. Each day presents new opportunities to teach both big and small lessons. Everything from teaching him right from wrong to how to hold a crayon is a learning experience. The part that I didn’t expect was that he would teach me so much in return.
Brooks, being the full-blown toddler that he is, is definitely a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute he is squealing in delight and literally the next he is screaming and throwing himself on the floor. Last week he was particularly mad at me when I went to put him down for a nap. He tried repeatedly to smack me in the face when I picked him up to take him upstairs and his melt-down continued until he used the back of his head to full-on head-butt me. It struck me with such force and such shock that I literally started crying. My first reaction was to be mad. I thought of yelling at him, putting him in his crib, and storming out. Luckily, I got myself together. I explained that he hurt me and that it wasn’t nice. I asked if he was sorry and he replied with a soft, “yeah”. I asked for a kiss and afterwards he put his head down on my chest for longer than he ever has before.
I wish that I could say that I’ve dealt with all of his moods with such grace. Truth is that I haven’t. I’ve yelled at him. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve slapped his hand. None of these things seem to work but more importantly they make me feel horrible.
I’m certainly not advocating not disciplining our children. I believe discipline is an important and necessary job as a parent. The difference how I’m reacting to his tantrum. Chris and I recently had this discussion. Brooks is still too young to know how to regulate all of his emotions. Being the parents and the adults, we should be much better at this. Unfortunately though, this doesn’t come easily to me. Losing my temper and my patience with every tantrum he throws isn’t beneficial for either of us. Even worse, I found myself getting pissed when he was acting out and then holding on to that anger.
I’ve always admired Chris’s ability to forgive. He can get over something almost instantly. I, on the other hand, usually stew over things. I have to think them through and then make my peace. Brooks, with his rollercoaster of moods, is slowing teaching me how to instantly and whole-heartedly forgive.
Patience is another one of my short-comings. My mind races a mile a minute. I’m thinking about my next task even before I’ve completed my first one. I love to-do-lists, checking off tasks, and feeling accomplished. These days I don’t write as many to-do-lists and the ones that I do write get checked off much more slowly. Actually everything in my life now takes longer. I used to think I would rock at that Super-Market Sweepstakes show. I can take down a grocery store in no time. That; however, is now only when Brooks isn’t with me. Slowly I’m learning that I don’t have to rush through all of my daily activities. Yesterday after I picked Brooks up at the gym day-care we headed up to get a smoothie. After hanging out for a while enjoying it we started making the long trek down multiple flights of stairs to the parking garage. Brooks wanted to walk and even though it takes a lot more time and the steps are border-line scary (obviously while holding my hand), I let him walk the entire way himself. Multiple people passed us and a few commented that we weren’t getting anywhere. While we were getting nowhere fast, it didn’t matter. Brooks was happy and so was I.
As an adult my parents have often told me how much I’ve taught them. I suppose I saw this from an egocentric point of view. I thought it was because I had so much to offer ( feels ridiculous to write that but it’s true). I realize now, that it is another wonderful gift of parenting. As long as we are open to the lessons, each day allows us to improve upon something in our lives that we aren’t so good at. I’m certainly not healed of my many flaws, but Brooks is helping me reevaluate things and make small changes for the better. I’m sure he will teach me many lessons in life. Unconditional love is certainly at the top. As for what’s to come, I guess we’ll see.