There are a million lessons that I have learned since having a child.
Becoming a mother has made me take a deeper look at myself. It has forced me to asses my values and clarify the things that I hold dear in this world. It has made me take a firmer stance on political issues, issues related to raising children and issues specifically related to raising a little boy. I have formed stronger opinions about what I consider to be right and wrong and the things that I believe in. The realization that you are responsible for passing such beliefs on to your children and raising them to be independent thinking, respectful and responsible human beings is a heavy burden.
In many ways, becoming a mother has made me more sure of myself even as I am forced to admit that there is so much more that I don’t know than I realized- but perhaps that is also simply part of becoming an adult. I find that I am kinder and more tolerant towards people (except bad drivers) and while I still judge people, as we naturally do, I am more likely these days to catch myself in my judgement and evaluate where it comes from.
Some of my big learning moments come while doing such mundane tasks as folding thel laundry or driving home from the grocery store. Driving around yesterday while trying to pick up dinner, I was overcome with the realization that I go through life constantly preparing for the worst case scenario. Jumping to forgone conclusions and preparing myself physically and mentally to deal with the worst hand that fate can deal to me comes as naturally as drawing air into my lungs. In some cases this is necessary and serves me well. When we were recently faced with the possibility that our unborn son could have heart problems, I immediately did my research and was fully prepared to deal with the worst possible outcomes the diagnosis could throw our way. I listed people I could call on when we would have to be away to visit specialists, I lay awake at night imagining what the emotional toll would be to sit in a hospital waiting while our tiny infant underwent open heart surgery, and I imagined what our lives would look like 4, 8, 16 years down the road as we dealt with any aftereffects. To our great relief, everything looks normal and we won’t have to deal with any of that, but the realization that I was able to jump right in and stand firm in the worst muck, was an eye opener.
It is a huge relief to know that I am capable of preparing and dealing with whatever life throws at me. It is also somewhat troubling that I do this in the daily circumstances that we find ourselves in every day as we live our lives.
Yesterday, while picking up dinner, I forgot that the restaurant was all cash so I had to run to the ATM while they held our to-go order. I immediately imagined that we would not make it back before they closed, that I would not be able to get my son the hot dog he so adamantly wanted for dinner, or that something would go wrong as we were forced to make this unexpected trip. I became angry at slow drivers and frustrated at every red light we were forced to stop at. So caught up in disaster mode was I, that I almost missed the wonderful opportunity which this side trip afforded me.
It had been a long and, at times, trying day but this extra trip in the car turned out to be the reset button I needed. For as we approached one maddening red light, I was unexpectedly serenaded from the back seat, as my 2 year old tried his best to sing along to “Uptown Funk” as it played on the radio. Although I wouldn’t want him going around singing this in the grocery store (his annunciation of certain words needs some work), I would never have had this moment to laugh and sing with him if we hadn’t had to detour. Instead of being faced with the worst case scenario, I was reminded to stay in the moment and enjoy life as it comes. Because if I am always planning for the worst, then there is a big possibility that I am also missing out on some of the best life has to offer.