My son turns ten tomorrow, officially making me a parent for an entire decade of my forty-four years. Parenting should be a walk in the park by now, right? Yet I still feel unequal to the task many days when we jump out of bed and rush to get ready for the rat race. A cup of coffee usually helps, but my manchild (he’s almost as tall as me at ten) has taught me a thing or two over the past ten years and almost always helps me rise to the occasion daily. And all those things my parents used to say to me before I had kids like “You never love anything or anyone as much as your child” and “After you have a child your life is not your own”? Yep, they’re all true. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. So what have I learned from my boy? More than what’s below, but for your sake, I’m keeping it short. I can’t wait to see what the next ten years being.
- Maybe the most important thing that my son has taught me is to lighten up. He’s bright, passionate, loving, and funny, all qualities I admire in him. I tend to be serious, a lot. And, well, parenting doesn’t always bring out the most fun parts of me. I get stressed and sometimes feel weighed down, but he cracks a joke or burps or sings loudly and we both laugh. And when I’m feeling really uptight, like when we’re running late (one of my biggest pet peeves) he says, simply, “I love you, Mom.” And it works. I realize that it just doesn’t matter if we’re late to music class. What matters is that we have each other.
- Being like everyone else is boring and trying to force a square peg into a round hole is a waste of time. My son is unique (he was a World War II history buff at age seven) and he embraces that most of the time. Sure, there are moments that he wants to be something he isn’t, but by and large, he’s comfortable in his own skin. These are lessons that I’m still working on and I’m old. But when I look at him, I have more compassion for myself and others. Was it curiosity or conformity that killed the cat? After spending ten years with this amazing kid, I’d argue conformity.
- Patience is more important than we give it credit for being. When I take the time to slow down and give him the time and space he needs (even though it drives me nuts) to get his shoes on, pick up his room, answer my question, the list goes on, I am reminded that being patient with one another is one of the things that builds trust, understanding, and empathy in a relationship. He taught me to value patience–even an old dog can learn new tricks.