My children never cease to amaze me, in how much they educate me daily. My son just learned his second word, yet I feel like I’ve learned more from him in his nine short months Earthside than I have in all my 23 years.
He recently learned to climb the death trap, err I mean the two stairs leading up from the sunken sitting room. I call it a death trap because it’s a wide set of stairs, and there’s nothing we can do to barricade Asher from falling. Just like his nickname however ‘The Engineer,’ he cleverly learned to get as close to the stairs as possible, without falling; then squawk and wave his arms and yell at me until I pick him up and place him where his toys are down below.
My husband and I were discussing how fast he learned this new trick, when our daughter never learned to climb stairs until long after she was walking. Then we considered that, Mila just never got the opportunity since we didn’t have stairs at our old home.
Overnight Mila has transformed from a toddler into a pre-schooler. She has been listening, behaving, and holding my hand when I ask. We’ve been able to work out the power struggles without tears and she’s potty trained herself, in less than a week.
Potty training has been a source of immense frustration and stress. Why? Mostly because I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, I don’t know what to expect, I know its possible to do it in a few days because the Internet told me, and there is always that mom that potty trains her infant so you feel this ‘pressure’ to follow suit. It has also been a complete disaster the few hours I’ve attempted.
When things weren’t working so well for me I began badgering my mother on potty training secrets and how she trained my brother and I; and the best she had for me was “You potty trained yourself.”
This was almost the least helpful advice, or so I felt, because I’m a real do-er. I like plans of action. So, I just all out gave up, mostly out of frustration and I no longer wanted to think about kids that potty train themselves because they were mythical unicorns to me. I would just deal with it later, if she didn’t “potty train herself,” like my mother promised me she would. I knew she wouldn’t go to school in diapers, and it would work itself eventually.
So when Mila ran upstairs from her movie one day, yelling as she ran past “I pee on the potty,” went into the bathroom, pulled down her pants, removed her diaper and peed on the potty before I even got there- I thought it was nothing short of a one off miracle, although I was impressed.
But then it happened again. And again. She would get out of the tub to pee. We would be in the car and she would ask. She had totally figured it out. Maybe the stickers and skittles had a say, but honestly, we had tried those before to no success.
These two experiences really summed something up for me, and thus are why I think my kids are my greatest mentors. They proved to me that all you need to do is plant a seed, water it with opportunity, encouragement, and allow life to flow wherever it naturally wants to go. Let go of the illusion of control. Let go of expectation. And just let things flow.
My son is not some baby athlete because he learned to climb stairs earlier than my daughter or maybe some other baby. He was just given the opportunity to do it, he tried it, and he succeeded.
I could have pushed my daughter to potty train, harder than I had attempted in the past, working through my frustration, the accidents, the doubt in her. But I didn’t. I just told myself that she would not go to school in diapers, and that it would work itself out. And it did. I don’t think I’m lucky. I don’t think she’s a genius. It’s called opportunity. The potty was there, we talked about it, and I educated her about how to go, when and what to do. One day it just clicked for her.
I think we would all do a little better in life, and by better I mean less stressed, if we just let life flow where it naturally wants to. No, your child might not be climbing stairs at this moment, but maybe they are learning to wave, cutting teeth, or learning ‘mama.’ There is no clear-cut direction in parenting, and much of the rest of life is that way too.
I’ve been considering switching careers altogether, or just temporarily doing something else while the children are young. This has been an agonizing decision for me because I’m afraid to make a mistake, make a ‘wrong’ decision, as well as let go of my massage career. I felt like I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t even know how to get there, I didn’t know what I could possibly even take to get me remotely close to achieving this. So I decided to let my life naturally flow where it wants to be. Be adventurous until you find something that makes you say ‘I need more of this.”
I researched more of what interests me NOW. I bought some books, I’ve signed up for online classes. I went into specialty stores and meditated on the topic of my future career. I literally asked the Universe “what will you have me do? How can I be of the best service and use my full potential.”
And over time, little snippets of a sign appeared. Little messages popped up in my inbox or newsfeed. Suggestions were made on my Pinterest page, and the cogs really got turning. The answer is getting clearer and clearer as the days go by, as I dip my toes in more adventure, drink more tea, spend more time with the kids. Be open to the opportunities, and be open to taking them too, it makes life more adventurous, and it adds a little more beauty too.
I think we could all do with a little more beauty.