Lessons From a 3 Year Old

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about” 

Before I became a mom I thought about all the lessons I would be teaching my child. I anticipated the moment I would be teaching her how to eat, how to walk, how to talk, how to love, and how to live. I looked forward to moments I got to witness her accomplish something for the first time; the joy on her face, the excitement in her eyes, the confidence in her heart…it is everything a parent prays for- watching their child grow. But little did I know, becoming a mom, I also became the student. In the journey of being a mother, I’ve learned more valuable lessons from my daughter than she has learned from me as a mother. Here are some lessons I feel others can learn from as well.

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How to forgive

My daughter has yet to hold a grudge. No matter how upset someone has made her, no matter how many times she has been scolded for simply just wanting attention, no matter how broken her heart might have been, she is always the first to forgive. There are times I kick myself for raising my voice too loud, times I’ve questioned whether I gave her enough attention in the day- but then I hear a little voice say “I love you mommy” or a voice say “I’m sorry Mommy for throwing a fit” and I realize how quickly she forgave my impatience and how it no longer mattered to her that I reacted in such a way. She doesn’t carry the past with her, she doesn’t bring negativity with her into the next day. She leaves every moment in that moment and starts every day off with a smile and pure happiness. This girl is teaching me to give everyone a little more grace, to forgive others as God forgave us, to approach every situation with a clean mind and an open heart.

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How to find joy

I feel as though the older we get, the harder we are to please. Children could be given a box and find hours of entertainment within it. Adults on the other hand want want want and are difficult to satisfy. Every single day my daughter finds joy in what we are doing. We could be home all day, we could be out and about running errands- but every single day she finds joy in our tasks. There have been several nights that I’m ready for the kids to go to bed and my husband and I to have adult time watching our shows or simply just having an uninterrupted conversation; I walk downstairs only to hear a cry from her for me to come snuggle her a while longer. Some nights I do just that, and then it ends up being too late to do anything other than going to sleep with her. But the other night I didn’t want to give in and go to bed for the night but I also wasn’t willing to let her cry herself to sleep so I said “just come down here and you can watch a show with Daddy and I”. You would have thought we told her she was going to Disneyland or getting a new puppy. Her little feet moved down those stairs faster than we’ve ever seen, and she excitedly said “are you seriously? are you seriously mommy? oh my gosh you are the best princess ever!!!” When she reached the end of the stairs she ran so fast I thought she was going to fall, she jumped in my lap and had the biggest grin, the brightest eyes, and the sweetest voice “WHAT ARE WE WATCHING?” That was joy. It was joy for something that was so small to us yet meant everything to her. It reminded me to try to find joy in everything I did, even if some days it was more difficult to do so.

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How to be intentional and genuine

It’s true when they say kids speak the truth. Luckily, this has not been at all negative yet with our child. Out of all of the topics, I feel this is the most important one to learn from. My child reminds me on a daily basis to find the positive in others and to point them out. She can meet someone for the very first time and tell them she loves their shoes. She stops people in the store to tell them she likes their necklace. And the best part about her compliments, is they are pure and genuine. She asks her daddy how work was every day, she asks people if they slept good, and she finds topics to talk to people about that they are interested in. She is intentional with everything she does and she has such a big heart. Just last week one of her friends went to a tea party that day and on the way home  from work, the car was quiet and she randomly goes “how was Gwens tea party?” She asked this because she genuinely cared how her day went. It’s not easy to find genuine people who are intentional with their actions, with their words, and with their thoughts. So to have a 3 year old remind me how important this is on a daily basis, is so refreshing. If people found the good in each person they came across, if people found even just ONE thing to say positive about another person this world could be so different.

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How to make light of a stressful situation

Have you ever began to get angry or stressed out about a situation and then you realize the composure your toddler has? Last night my one year old threw his poop diaper in the air with poop flying all over my daughters floor. Instead of grossing out or getting upset, my daughter burst into the best and longest belly laugh. This then made us all laugh when we realized how funny the situation actually was. But lets pretend it didn’t go this way. Lets pretend we responded in the way we wanted to respond. How does that change the moment? What it does is it brings negativity and frustration into a happy home. It takes a stressful moment and makes it a stressful day. This bring me to another moment that happened recently. My husband and I (with kids in tow), got Chipotle for dinner. When we were driving home the bag fell over and salsa and sour cream fell all over the car. With angry voices and words such as “who doesn’t put the lids on sour cream? People need to do their jobs!” Our (then 2 year old) chimed in “It’s okay, we can just clean it up when we get home!” At that moment, a 2 year old was 10 times more mature and wise than we were. Because she was right! All we had to do was clean it up when we got home. That’s what is so rare about some little ones; they take a situation that causes tension and they find the light in it. It’s amazing to me how following the emotions and outlook a child has on a situation ends up being so much lighter, so much sweeter than any sort of feeling we could have initially had on our own.

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How to love

Do you ever catch a child looking at you, looking at someone with so much love in their eyes? It’s as if they don’t know our flaws; it’s as if they see right by them and only see the decent in you. It’s as if the only thing that matters to them is the time you give them, the love you show them, and the warmth of your arms. They don’t care about the type of car you drive, the yoga pants you wore 3 days in a row, about the color you dye your hair. They just purely love. They love the way your snuggles feel, the way you wipe their tears away. They love the way you make them laugh with a silly face, the way you smile when they say something silly. They love the way you help them up when they fall, the way you watch them explore. They love the way you read a story, the way your voice gets silly during certain parts of the book. They love the way you smell after the shower, the way you smell before a shower. They love the way you kiss them good night, the way you calm them during a scary dream. They would stay in your presence every second of every day if you would just let them. They love. They love so deep, so strong, so fierce. They have no limits to what too much is, no limits to what too strong is. They don’t judge, they don’t discriminate, and they are accepting of all. You see, a 3 year old might not know it all, they might still be learning how to write their name, how to go potty by themselves, but what they do know, what they can teach the rest of the world is this- life is too short to choose who you’re going to love, how you’re going to love, when your’e going to love. They just love. They don’t care what you look like, they don’t care what you smell like, they don’t care about what they get in return for loving you. They just do it. With a heart that forgives, with genuine actions, intentional words, and a carefree spirit.

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