Becoming a parent has been the most life altering event I have experienced so far. When I look at my little boy I feel like my heart is literally walking outside of my body. There have been countless moments where I sit and watch him in amazement as he grows and changes at a whirlwind pace. I remember sitting on the sofa watching him play in our living room the other day. He was stacking his blocks and building a tower. He accidentally knocked his tower over with his foot and I heard him say “uh oh spaghetti-o”. I had this brief moment of clarity where I felt so proud of him for making light of what could have been very frustrating combined with the realization that as adults, we are way too hard on ourselves. In that moment, I felt that there were a lot of life lessons I am continually learning from my son has he grows up.
- Learn to fall down (and get back up)
When Jack was learning to walk, he would fall straight backwards and hit his head. We actually taught him out to fall on us butt instead. We put him on our bed and played the fall down game. It worked, Jack learned to fall down on his butt without hurting himself. As he progressed with walking, anytime he would fall down we would say “boom” and smile. Now, if he trips and falls he gets right up and keeps going. It’s not a big deal to him to fall down, in fact, he thinks it’s fun.
As adults, I think this is something we could all stand to remember. I tend to be really hard on myself if I think I have made a mistake in some way. My son reminds me that when we learn anything new, and even in just living our everyday lives, we are bound to make mistakes and have set backs. When that happens, the best thing we can do is to shake it off, learn, and move on.
2. Do things one at a time
Multitasking is not something Jack is good at but he continues to try. His favorite toy right now is a remote-control Thomas the train that he got for Christmas. He plays with it every day. The other day he was playing with the train and I could hear the motor running loudly and I knew it was stuck somewhere. I went to find go find Jack and help him get his train unstuck. He was standing in the living room and Thomas was running full speed (or trying to) into a wall. Jack was standing in the middle of the room with the control for the train in one hand, his finger pushing the forward button. He was holding his snack cup in the crook of his opposite elbow and was trying to eat a piece of cucumber with his other hand, rather unsuccessful given how many thing he was holding.
I had to take a moment and laugh at this picture. We all are guilty of multi-tasking. Last night I was washing dishes and talking on the phone, while Jack was running around playing (and in a rather grumpy mood), while my husband was walking in the door from work. I know I was doing none of those things well at that particular moment. It happens, we need to get things done. Jack reminds me that we all do things better if we do them one at a time and focus.
3. Say “uh oh spaghetti-o”
This really is one of the things my son says that makes me really happy. Whether it’s knocking something over on accident, dropping a toy he didn’t mean to drop (as opposed to throwing it on purpose), bumping his head, or any other number of things, I am happy that he can make mistakes, let them go, and move on. It is a skill I hope sticks with him. I am typically the opposite.
The other night I was laying on my (new) sofa eating a bowl of cereal when somehow I managed to tip the bowl and dump milk and cereal all over myself and the sofa. It would have been really easy for me to get really mad at myself and beat myself up over something so tiny and insignificant as spilling my cereal. Instead I smiled to myself as I said “uh oh spaghetti-o” in my head. My husband helped clean up the couch while I changed clothes. More importantly, something that I could have let ruin my whole night, became something that I was able to move on from and still enjoy my night (from the other end of the couch).
4. Practice makes perfect
I sat down with Jack to help him play with one of his shape sorters. It is one of his simpler ones and the pieces rattle so he has loved it ever since we got it. I expected to need to help him figure out where the pieces went, the way I have always needed to before. I didn’t need to help him. He placed every piece by himself. It was a bitter sweet moment, I am not going to lie. My baby is growing up and becoming a little boy.
When I do something new, or even with the things I do every day, I expect them to be perfect (irrationally, I know) the first time and every time. It’s January and as I think about the goals that I have made for myself, I feel impatient, I just want to get to where I have achieved these things. Watching Jack learn to walk, talk, run, dance, etc has really inspired me to change the way I think and feel about learning new things/working on goals. It really isn’t about where you get, it is what you learn along the way. Jack isn’t just learning how to do tasks, he is learning how to approach problems and solve them. He is finding joy in everything he does. He loves jumping in and experiencing new things and generally it doesn’t matter if he tries and fails or if he needs a lot of help. He loves the process of learning and it is definitely a lesson I am carrying with me this year.
5. March to the beat of your own drum
For better or worse, Jack does his own thing. He makes it very clear what he likes and what he doesn’t. He currently has a passion for wearing hats and singing and dancing. I think we could all learn a little bit from our kids in taking time to do what we love and finding joy in the moment.
Having a child has certainly changed my perspective on a lot of things. I look forward to all the lessons my family learns together as Jack continues to grow into the person he will become. He inspires me to be a better person along the way.
Stephanie and her family moved to Indianapolis from Texas in 2015. She and her husband John have been happily married since 2010. They have a one year old son named Jack. They share their home with two dogs, Torchy and Rusty, and two cats, Timmy and Kit Kat. Stephanie has a BS in Animal Behavior from Southwestern University and a DVM from Texas A&M University. She is an associate veterinarian at VCA Animal Hospital o f Plainfield and has a special interest in veterinary behavior. Stephanie is passionate about being a wife, a mom, and a veterinarian. She loves spending time playing with her son, cooking with her husband, training and playing with their two dogs, and snuggling with her cats on the couch. When taking time for herself, she enjoys yoga, running, reading, and the occasional massage . The views expressed in this article are Stephanie's and do not necessarily reflect the views of her employer.