Harlan woke up this morning much like I woke up on that morning five years ago — early and excited. I remember driving to the hospital during the wee hours of that Wednesday morning. I was fearful because in just a few hours I was going to be a mother. I’d be responsible for someone other than myself. I was the one that was going to be responsible for this little person that I would have to take care of and teach all of those important lessons in life — just like my parents had done for me. But what I didn’t realize on that short car ride to the hospital was that my lesson in life was just starting that day. And in just a few hours, I was going to meet my teacher.
She’s taught me a lot in these past five years. Life lessons that I am forever grateful for. Here are just 10 things my five-year-old has taught me since she made me a mom.
1. I am beautiful.
This is probably one of the most important lessons she’s taught me. Even with three kids and a radically different body than I had pre-kids, she tells me I’m beautiful. Every single day. It’s those times when I look in the mirror and don’t believe it for myself, she will come in and tell me otherwise. It’s then that I realize that no matter what I look like, I’ll always be beautiful to her.
2. It’s good to laugh at yourself.
Harlan is always one that loves to tell a joke. Even if the jokes make no sense at all, she will still laugh because to her, each one is the best one yet. She never takes herself too seriously and that is what I love about her. Rather than crying or getting embarrassed because she’s tripped over something and fallen to the ground, she gets up and laughs about it just seconds later. It’s her easy-going spirit that is such a great reminder that we all need to laugh — sometimes even at ourselves.
3. Imagination is a wonderful thing.
Just yesterday, Harlan packed up her bags and “went to Africa.” She came back five minutes later and told me about all of the wonderful things that she saw while on her vacation. Sometimes I get lost in the reality of life and the world and it’s hard to snap back out of it. So when she asks me to take a “vacation” with her to Colorado, I let my imagination go with her and sometimes it’s just the trip I need.
4. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there.
Harlan started kindergarten this year. We just moved to our town two months ago, so everything is completely new to her. But she took everything new, without fear, and jumped right in. She can walk up to kids at the playground and introduce herself, making new friends on the spot. She stepped into the door of her new classroom and never looked back. She came home from school telling me about two new friends that she made. It’s her willingness to go out there and just do it without fear that inspires me. I want to be able to do that, and I know I’d be a lot better off if I did.
5. Take fashion risks.
Who says you need to follow the fashion rules when it comes to getting dressed? Not Harlan. She wears what she likes and doesn’t care what anyone else says about it. She stands with confidence in her neon headband, flower dress, polka-dot socks, and pink shoes. I’m always so worried about what others will think of my outfit or how my body will look. But Harlan doesn’t care about any of that. She takes the risk and runs with it.
6. Sometimes all you need is a good cuddle and instantly everything is okay.
Harlan has and (I hope) always will be my cuddler. She loves to cuddle. If she’s having a particularly rough day, all she wants to do to make it better is lay in bed with me with her head on my chest. And it’s been this way year after year. It’s as if cuddling makes all her sorrows go away. And it does. If I am having a bad day, I’ll take one of my kids and just hug them and immediately I know that everything is alright again.
7. Don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside.
While I like to call them tantrums, Harlan wastes no time letting us know exactly how she feels. If she’s sad, she cries. Mad — you will hear the stomping and yelling. Happy — the giggles echo across the room. I don’t always express my emotions, but I know that if I don’t, it might not work out as well in the end. Harlan teaches me that it’s okay to have a good cry once in a while.
8. It’s okay to make a mess. That just means you’re having fun.
I don’t like messes and sometimes would rather skip out on the activity if it means that it will make too big of a mess. But my daughter has taught me otherwise. Make the mess, have fun with it and don’t worry about the mess because then you won’t enjoy the moment. The mess can wait, so just have fun.
9. Get excited about the small things in life.
The other day I came home from the grocery store with a surprise for Harlan. I’d bought a pack of gum while I was out and gave her a piece. You would have thought she’d won the lottery with the way that she reacted to this piece of gum. She was running around the house squealing with excitement. All for just this little piece of gum! It reminded me that I need to be that happy about the little things in life. If I got the laundry done and folded, let’s cheer about it. If dinner is cooked and my kids actually eat it without a fuss, that’s something to celebrate as well.
10. Love is all you need.
Because at the end of the day, that’s all we really have. The love I have for her and the love that she’s given me these past five years is all I’ll ever really need.
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