Today is the day that our oldest daughter turns 11. You know how people say you forget the pain of birth and all that jazz? Well, they’re wrong. I remember it like it was yesterday. I wrote out her birth story last year and it was a massive hit! Why? I honestly don’t know? Anyway, this year I’m going to write down a few things that I’ve learned from my 11 year old in the last 11 years.
- Parenting is a sacrifice.
She was the first one. Bringing her home to our little nest that just had 2 adults in it was a life changing moment and, ‘sacrifice’ became a true reality to me. My life was no longer my own. She was dependent on me for everything. I didn’t think about myself first, I thought about her. Small things like going to the toilet were a thought process because I couldn’t leave her alone on the bed…… what if she fell off? right? Sleep? what if I fell into such a deep sleep she ended up crying her lungs out and I wouldn’t wake up? Do I sleep or stay awake until she needed me?
Any money that used to be for me and my treats…… became hers and her treats. Mom now came last.
- She’s an investment worth making.
I remember when we started disciplining her – we went into it with the mindset that she’s number one, and so we have to lay the foundation for the rest that would follow. This is just an example of how we put things into her as soon as possible and it’s been great to reap the benefits of it later. Spending time with her is worth it because I get to know my kid. I get to understand her, how she ticks and what she’s about. On her terms. It’s hard work and time consuming but the investment on my part is so beneficial for both of us.
- Even though I’m the parent – she still has her own opinion.
This was a massive mind shift for me. I had to change my perspective on this one a lot and approach every situation, when she wanted to speak up, as a way of seeing it from her point of view. Yes, I still am the parent but she still has her own way of thinking. Her brain, heart and emotions are hers and I can’t copy and paste mine, thinking she’ll get it from my point of view. I have to see it from hers as well. This has taken years and I’m hoping I continue to see through her eyes as much as I possibly can.
- I’m her mentor and that’s that.
You know, as a mother often it’s easy to just think that your child will look to other forms of female influence and they’ll latch on elsewhere. Nope! I’m it. The way that I react to something, or express my opinion in front of her is going to set the bench mark for her standards and give her an outline of how she colours her own views. Yes, they may not be the same as mine, but dude – the way I look at food, the way I look at and treat my body, the way I look at others, the way I treat other people, the way I treat my husband, the way I treat my family and the list can go on. This is how she will and sees the world. I have to make sure that I try to give her my best at all times.
- I can be her “friend” as well as her “parent”.
I used to think that you could only be one or the other. As she has gotten older – I’ve noticed how there is a way to be both and it’s a case of creating the balance. I know she rolls her eyes at me, I know that she doesn’t agree with me and that’s ok. If we are comparing notes on music and dance moves – and yet, at the same time I’m able to still guide her and teach her about responsibility and stuff. It’s a fine line and I know that it’s only going to get a little harder to watch the line over the next few years. But God has a reason for this process and it’s ok.
- Prayer is way more important for her than I realised.
Let’s be honest, if I didn’t pray – my kids would be so damaged. I think of all the times that I had to just breathe, close my eyes and say “help me Jesus” – and it’s in that moment that He helps me parent them better. I pray for her all the time, about so many different things. Some of the things we’ve watched her grow into and we are blown away by how amazingly faithful God is to cover her and help her blossom.
- My character is so much bigger because of her.
When she was little I had to learn self control, patience, kindness, long suffering and all that good stuff (still learning) But now she’s at a stage where she is calling me out on some of my nonsense and it’s a bitter pill to swallow because she’s right most of the time and that’s ok. I’m all for learning from everyone – especially my kids.
- Pride isn’t always a bad emotion.
Let’s be honest – which parent hasn’t turned their phone into your face and shown you when their child first ate on their own, walked on their own, wrote their name, read a book for the first time……. the list could go on. Guys! that feeling of pride isn’t a feeling of “look what I’ve done” its a feeling of “look at this amazing kid doing so well without me and I’m just her parent”. The feeling swells in my chest so huge I feel I could burst. It’s here where I have to curb the bad “brag” part but wow! that feeling is awesome.
Those are just a few of the things that she’s taught me over the years. Happy Birthday Aislyn! Thank for continuously teaching me. There’s so much more – but these have been the highlights. What have you learned from your kids? no matter what age they are – what have they done for your personal growth?