“Teach your children well.” So goes the well-known refrain: Eloquent words, for sure, and food for thought with sweeping implications, not to mention eliciting a fountain of emotions. As Mother’s Day approaches, our minds and hearts naturally turn toward the parent-child relationship: especially, that unique bond between mother and offspring; as well as the gratitude we possess for our dear moms. From Hallmark cards (yep, many still send ‘em,) to Social Media posts galore, we gush about that which we have garnered from the women who begot and reared us.
What if this year we flip the obvious on its side by placing our awareness, instead, on the lessons we can learn as mothers? Let’s, then, take a peek at what our children can teach us. And further add insight on self-imposed lessons we can glean along the journey of motherhood. These are observations that can truly enlighten and are certainly just as much a celebration of Mother’s Day.
In that vein, here are a few healthy lessons that we mothers can benefit to learn from our children or otherwise throughout the experience of parenting. Allowing space to embrace them can prove to be illuminating and freeing:
Lesson #1: Let go. As many will attest, letting go is perhaps the most challenging—and necessary—process for mothers, in particular. And, wow, how far-reaching it is! Letting go suggests permitting children to develop their own unique personalities and accepting that their identities are not (should not be) extensions of ours. We must respect how they differ from us and not attempt to sway or force our values and beliefs upon them. On a tangible level, we let go by providing our children with freedom to leave home, explore and expand their ‘selves’ in the world. And yes, that includes making room for errors in judgement on their parts. (A child’s mistakes become his own lessons learned, detours toward betterment and growth.)
Lesson #2 Listen. Become astute listeners. We should pay close attention whenever our children speak. By actively listening to and between the lines, we have the capacity to learn more about them and ourselves. Children are quick to call us out, and, y’know, often times they actually perceive us moms more clearly than we do ourselves.
Lesson #3 Children are gifts. They are not possessions. We bring children into our families and are equally blessed to have the opportunity to raise them and be nurtured by them. Children are not chattel to be ‘had,’ controlled and posed. Our roles as mothers are to love, guide, nourish and support our offspring unconditionally, throughout life’s myriad ups, downs and sideways.
Lesson #4 Be in the moment. Being mindful throughout our journeys instills peaceful minds in both us and our children. We must be grateful for every moment we have with our progeny. Sure, it’s easy to fall into old patterns of worry. How will our babies’ futures turn out? Those concerns and forecasts cause anxiety—a lack of acceptance and concord (that young children can pick up on, to boot.) Change is an inevitable part of life that we all must admit. Just as an infant lives in and for the present, we must continuously enjoy what we have moment to moment, no matter what ages our children are.
Lesson #5 Forgive yourself. Every human is prone to mistakes. Let’s set aside mother’s guilt. Commit to relinquishing self-judgement and regret. Self-forgiveness can be part of a process, yet it’s one it behooves us to learn.
Perhaps we can cultivate genuine, healing forms of maternal gratitude simply from adding new perspectives on Mother’s Day… and every day. Once we open our minds to learning a few good lessons, we can perpetuate more symbiotic and peaceful parenting relationships to last a lifetime.