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Your Children Teach You What Truly Matters, If You Are Willing to Listen

Your number one goal as a parent is to keep your kids safe, and teach them all of the hard lessons they will need to know to succeed through the many stages they will go through in life. From infancy, to toddlerhood, through their school years, and into their teens and young adulthood. By the time they reach their late teens or early adulthood, your children will have formed the foundation to guide them into adulthood and beyond. And you hope that the values and morals you have so desperately tried to instill in your children will be enough for them to develop into healthy, happy, contributing members of society, who will someday pass along those same ideals to their own families. But if you open your eyes, ears, minds, and hearts, you will also begin to see how much your children teach you every single day. Your children teach you compassion - empathy, love, and understanding that you just simply couldn't have even conceive was possible until you heard their little heartbeats, saw the shadowy outline of their bodies, snuggled them closely into you, and gazed into their eyes for the very first time. In that moment, they taught you the love of a parent, and the intense concern for their adversity, difficulties, and suffering - no matter how minor it may seem in the grand scheme of things. Your children teach you patience. As you spend sleepless nights trying everything in your might to soothe away their cries, you learn from them. As the sleepless nights turn into a whirlwind of days, you learn patience when you teach them to tie their shoes and zip up their jackets, their tiny hands fumbling and their big eyes gazing up at you, moistened with tears when they just can't quite get it. And, for what seems like the thousandth time, you show them again. You learn from them the struggles of being little again. Your children teach you to be patient and they teach you how to teach them. Your children teach you courage. The force you to face your fears about their first steps, their first time climbing the ladder up to the slide. The first day of daycare, or preschool, or Kindergarten. The first overnight sleepover away from home, the first crush, the first kiss, the first graduation. They teach you to be brave. To let them go - your most precious gifts - and to hold a safe space for them to return when they are ready, or loving arms to scoop them up when they fall down. Your children teach you strength. They teach you the strength you need to set expectations and rules, and to follow through with loving firmness when their saddened hearts so desperately beg you to give in. Your children teach you to advocate for them when they need it the most. They teach you to hold back your own tears and to fight when you're feel like you're just too tired to keep going. Your children teach you to play. They teach you to let your hair down, to jump in mud puddles, and dance in the living room. They teach you about Pokémon and dinosaurs and hula-hoops. They teach you to put down your phone, to set boundaries around work. Your children teach you the importance of making time for building forts in the woods, playing fetch with the dog, and laughing until you cry. And most of all, your children teach you to see all of the beautiful qualities you have brought into this world. They teach you to see your own greatness, compassion, patience, courage, strength, and playfulness reflected in their eyes. And sometimes - just sometimes - they teach you your weaknesses. And when they tug at your legs while you stare at your phones, or they beg you to slow down while you're running around, or they tell you that you don't listen when you're nagging again - they teach you. And, if you are willing to listen, you can learn. Learn how to give them time and attention, learn when to slow down, learn how to connect. If you open your mind and you open your heart, your children truly can be your greatest teachers - for they will teach you all of the things that truly matter in life.