Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Boy, have I been having trouble with this topic. I’ve done something like five complete rewrites. It’s not that I don’t learn from my children. It’s that without them, I would be a completely different person. When I consider the work I have done to become a better parent, I tend to become very earnest. At the same time, I find myself thinking that I wouldn’t be having as much fun without them. It’s like two competing posts, but without the benefit of two authors!
I guess I’ll go with that, then. It is the paradox, that parenting demands both more effort and more joy. I read that I would be “happier” if I hadn’t had my children, but I can’t believe it. I might be less tired and less stressed without these kids. I would certainly have more money. But I wouldn’t be ME, and I’m pretty satisfied with the way that’s turning out.
As I thought about which way to go with this, it occurred to me to simply split up ideas into two categories for this post. One of them is Things I have Learned from Parenting (very earnest). The other is Things My Children Know that I have forgotten (Stop being so Earnest!), so I will split them up, just so. Also, most uncharacteristically… bullet points!
Things I Have Learned from Parenting
In no particular order
- You can love somebody so much that you would sacrifice your life for them, but you might still find yourself begging them to please, please, PLEASE go to sleep so that you can have two hours to yourself before you have to fall into bed to do it all over again.
- Kids are terribly strict about right and wrong, leading to such things as living Christmas trees, vegetarian diets, and learning to watch your tongue.
- I don’t need to make my children learn. It is what small animals do, especially human beings. If I provide them with a rich environment, a loving home, and the opportunities to engage in the world, they will play, learn, and become fully fledged human beings without my interference.
- I do not own my children. They have relationships with other adults in our lives independent from my own, and although I may have responsibilities to surround them with healthy relationships, they have the right to negotiate those relationships separately.
- Children are not human beings in the making; they are wholly formed human beings who need assistance to get things off top shelves and to keep themselves fed, clothed, and bathed.
- Nobody wins when the kids do something just to get me to stop yelling. My goal is that they do things because they need doing. The room needs to be tidy so that we can find things, so that it is safe to walk across, and so that toys don’t get broken, NOT so that Mummy won’t yell.
- Adult self-care is the foundation on which a healthy family is built. If I find myself on edge, tired, and feeling unappreciated, I need to take steps to fix that.
- The ego has to go. Lots of people get to this one without bearing children, but I think that the need to be sane and healthy for my kids has been the main driving force here. It is not reasonable to expect the world to conform to my expectations to reassure my ego of its health, dominion, or power. This is most obvious in intimate relationships, and there is no more intimate relationship than taking responsibility for making a whole other person. Having made them, however, I need to let them go to find their own ways in the world. They are not little extensions of me, and when the I find the ego making such claims, I need to hush it.
Things My Children Know
My children know things that I, in my pursuit of responsibility, stability and Grown-up-ness, have forgotten. I recently found myself on the couch waving all four limbs in the air in excitement over finding a Power Star on Super Mario Galaxy. Caught up in earnestness, I forget about that kind of silliness. Also, Hotwheels track (with loops!), Lego starfighters, and the fun of blowing raspberries. Here are some other things that I probably used to know, that my children have had to remind me.
- Food tastes better when it is shaped like letters, numbers, or small animals (even if you wouldn’t really eat a rhino.)
- Don’t forget the value of bling. Tiaras are particularly good for cheering you up. Even if you are a boy.
- Wearing purple and pink doesn’t have to undermine your feminist leanings. You can play Barbies, princess and dinosaurs all on the same day. If you are creative enough, you can play them all at the same time.
- Bugs are really neat. Watching a spider build a web is as good as yoga for learning mindfulness. Skipping stones and doing jigsaw puzzles that you are going to take apart are valuable uses of your time, even if you do them on your own.
- Sometimes, chocolate cake is the most important part of dinner.
And, the most important one:
- Life is too important to be taken seriously.
OK. That last one might actually have been Oscar Wilde, but thanks to the kids, I think I finally get it. (7/362)
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)
- Affection — Alicia at I Found My Feet has finally become a hugger and kisser, now she has someone sweet and small to snuggle with. (@aliciafagan)
- Learning from Daniel — Amy at Anktangle hopes that she and her husband will always be open to learning from their son. (@anktangle)
- Kids Cultivate Awareness of Universal Truths — From forgiveness to joy, Amy Phoenix at Innate Wholeness has become aware of deep truths that come naturally to children. (@InnateWholeness)
- What the Apple Teaches the Tree — Becky at Future Legacy has learned about imagination, forgiveness, and strength.
- A Lesson in Slowing Time — Bethy at Bounce Me To the Moon revels in the chance to just be with her baby.
- Learning From My Children: I Am So Honored — WAHM Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey is learning to choose tea parties over work. (@MyMotheringPath)
- P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E — Now that she’s a mother, Danielle at born.in.japan is finally learning about a personality trait she lacked. (@borninjp)
- Top 5 Homeschool Lessons My Children Taught Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares what she learned from homeschooling her (now grown) children. (@DebChitwood)
- Learning to Live in the Present By Looking to the Future — Dionna at Code Name: Mama finds the patience to be a gentle parent, because she knows how fleeting childhood really is. (@CodeNameMama)
- The watchful Buddha boy — At Dreaming Aloud, they are learning to cherish their thoughtful, sensitive child in a action-driven, noisy world. (@DreamingAloudNt)
- What My Children Taught Me — Dulce de Leche‘s children have taught her to value herself for the wonderful person and mother she is.
- Lessons from the First Year — Having a child made Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama realize that her decisions affect more than just herself. (@CrunchyishMama)
- Lessons from Loss — Erica at ChildOrganics learned so much from the love — and loss — of her sweet Bella, five years ago. (@ChildOrganics)
- The Socratic Baby — Erin at Multiple Musings has so-called “identical” twins to serve as a daily lesson in nature vs. nurture. (@ErinLittle)
- Learning to be a Mother — Farmer’s Daughter learned the type of patience that enabled her to calmly eat one-handed for months and change clothes seven times a day, before noon. (@FarmDaughter)
- A Few Things Being a Mom Has Taught Me — Heather at Musing Mommy shares the curious, hilarious, and sometimes Murphy’s Law-like tidbits we learn from our children. (@xakana)
- I Feel You — Motherhood has taught Jamey from At the Bee Hive empathy, and it extends beyond just her child. (@JameyBly)
- Lessons From My Child… — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares the inspiring ways she’s learned to expect the unexpected — and have a camera ready! (@imaftmummy)
- My child is my mirror — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama has seen herself in her children – and it’s not bad. (@crunchychewy)
- There is enough to go around… — Kellie at Our Mindful Life learned that love doesn’t diminish when it’s shared.
- Learning From Our Children, Every Day — Kimberly at Homeschooling in Nova Scotia, Canada is continually inspired by her children. (@UsborneBooksCB)
- Life Lessons From My Children — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood has learned that every slug is fascinating, doing the dishes is fun, and sharing a banana is a delight. (@crunchymamato2)
- Things I’ve Learned From My Children — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings uses pictures to share what she has learned from her children. (@sunfrog)
- Beyond the questions lies the answer — Lauren at Hobo Mama stopped wondering and started knowing — loving and liking our children comes naturally. (@Hobo_Mama)
- Learning from Children — Lily, aka Witch Mom, finds out just how enchanting balloons can be. (@LilyShahar)
- Lifelong Learning — Lindsay at Living in Harmony has learned that what works for one kid might not work for another. (@AttachedMama)
- Walking alongside my daughter — Lindsey at Mama Cum Laude is learning to give the clock less power over her family’s life.
- Things my baby taught me about me — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is proud of how she has grown as a mother. (@lvano)
- From my children, I have learned — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip has a litany of beautiful lessons, from selflessness to sleeplessness.
- The Little Things in Life — In a simple and lovely prose poem, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shows how adults worry about the wrong things and forget the little, important ones: watching ladybugs, jumping in leaves, cherishing each moment as it comes.
- The Virtues of Motherhood — Melissa at The New Mommy Files has had opportunities to learn from children as both a teacher and a mother. (@NewMommyFiles)
- My Kids Have Taught Me That It’s Time To Stop Blogging — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! has learned that childhoods fly by too fast to blog. We’ll miss your wonderful online presence, Melodie, and we wish you much peace and happiness. (@bfmom)
- Having Kids Has Taught me a Thing or Two — Michelle at The Parent Vortex learns all day long — from fun facts about hedgehogs to tying a complicated wrap with a screaming child and an audience. (@TheParentVortex)
- We Could All Learn from the Children — Momma Jorje takes time to get on the floor and play so that she can see the world through her child’s eyes.
- Teaching Forgiveness — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog has a daughter who’s taught her unconditional love — even when she feels like she does’t deserve it. (@littlegreenblog)
- Parenting as a joint venture — Olivia at Write About Birth appreciates watching the astonishing way her children learn. (@writeaboutbirth)
- Beginner’s Mind — Rachael at The Variegated Life learns from a child who builds bridges to nowhere, calls letter magnets his numbers, and insists dinnertime is truck time. (@RachaelNevins)
- A baby’s present — RS at A Haircut and a Shave presents a short poem on the differences between a baby’s mindfulness and ours.
- Self-Confidence Was Born With My Daughter — Sara at Halfway Crunchy learned to trust her instincts by responding to her child’s needs — and saw her self-confidence bloom.
- The Importance of Being Less Earnest — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante has one list of earnest and one list of silly things she has learned as a parent. (@seonaid_lee)
- Lessons my children have taught me — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes learned that attachment parenting was the best way to meet the needs of her child and herself. (@Sheryljesin)
- Till the water is clear — Stacy at Mama-Om learns that being present is the best present. (@mama_om)
- I Hold It — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has learned that the ability to communicate is much more important than the number of words a child knows.
- What My Children Taught Me About Letting Go — Summer at Finding Summer is learning from her kids to laugh in the face of heartache. (@summerminor)
- Finding My Tools — The Artsymama has applied some of what she’s learned as a mama in the classroom, with great results!