The holiday season came upon me like a flood this year.
Ordering presents: late. Tree: late. Buying slow melt, snow boots, and snow pants in time for the first snow storm: late (honestly, I still haven’t bought the snow pants but I am literally willing last year’s pair to fit). One evening in early December, I was rushing home with my daughter after an emergency trip to get cat food after school. All I could think about was everything on my plate that night: getting home in time to make dinner, finishing a school project (seriously Pre-K teacher, giving mid-week parent homework in December!?), cookie baking, bedtime, finally sitting on the couch (with any good luck).
But my daughter, nothing but grace. At the pet store, she marveled over the ferrets, turtles, and bearded dragons. She picked up every Star Wars themed cat toy and asked if we could buy them for the cats for Christmas. (We did!) And as we drove the two miles to our house from the pet store, she exclaimed, “Look Mama, Christmas lights!” At every single house with lights. Every. Single. One.
So my resolution this year is simple – I want to be more like my daughter. Why?
- She is so curious. Everything is a mystery and then, once solved, everything delights her. “Mama, what made the leaves turn color? Mama, why is the sky pink during the sunset? Mama, how does the snow fall?”
- She knows how to love. Whenever I bang an elbow or stub my toe she asks if I need a kiss or a hug. She believes in the magic of kisses and hugs.
- She knows boundless joy. When we are out for a walk in the snow, she exclaims in awe at everything. “Mama, Geese! Mama, look at the cardinals! Mama, look at the moon, it’s so beautiful!”
- She is kind. We started painting kindness rocks. Now, every weekend all I hear is “Mama, can we please put kindness rocks in the woods today?”
- She is gracious. When I put on her scarf and hat in the morning or hand her a plate of muffins or some crackers, she always says thank you. Always.
- She is still learning.
We have those mornings. When I ask her to put her shoes on 8 times. And we are 8 minutes late getting out the door for school. And she throws a fit, sits down, and refuses to put on her shoes because she wants to wear the rain boots that are a size and a half too small. And she starts kicking when I try to put her shoes on. And I get knocked in the nose. And I shout, “Baby, we’re late, stop fighting me” and force her shoes on. And I have to carry her down the steps to the car and force the car seat straps over her shoulders. And she covers her ears and says, “Mama, it hurts when you yell.”
I pause, I start to drive, and I say, ”I’m sorry I raised my voice Baby. I will try harder next time. We have to work together. We are a team.” I ask her, ”Are you going to listen when Mama asks you to put your shoes on tomorrow?”
She says without skipping a beat, ”Yes, I am.” And then ”Mama, are you going to try to be more patient? I say, ”Yes I am. We have to work together.”
As the parent, I am the teacher. But I am also the student. I have to keep learning and growing. I have to always be the bigger person. And hopefully, she will learn this from me. It is so hard to admit fault. Hell, it is hard to admit that things are hard. In this polished social media society, where parents seem so put together, it is easy to think that we are failing when we are kicked in the nose by our amazing daughter. But we are not. I am teaching my daughter the value of admitting fault. And she is teaching me so much about firsts, wonder, and patience.