If I could dedicate one song to my children it would be Fabolous and Ne-Yo’s “You Make Me Better.” While I’m no psychic so I cannot actually predict the future or see an alternate reality, I’m pretty certain my children have made me a different, better person than I would have been without them.
My children are undoubtedly the source of many feelings of anxiety and overwhelm in my life. But they are also the source of immense joy and personal growth. Here are four ways that my children have made me better:
- I no longer sweat the small stuff. My children have completely changed my priorities and how I assign value to things. I am much more likely since having children to not expel extra energy on things that aren’t important or don’t have the potential to be important in the long run. For instance, I have a bad habit of replaying scenarios in my head and battling with myself about what I could have done better or said differently. I learned from a webinar a few months ago that this is called rumination, and it used to be the source of much stress in my life. Before I had children I could spend minutes or even hours replaying things in my head trying to find the best reaction even though I knew that the consequences likely could no longer be changed. If I had a conversation that didn’t play out the way I thought it should I would later be thinking about all the things I should have, could have, would have said if I had the opportunity to do it all over again. A HUGE waste of time and unnecessary use of energy. Now that I have two little people to keep up with I have ZERO time for rumination. I am constantly trying to keep up with them and thinking of ways to anticipate and address their needs. Any time I start going off on a mental tangent one of them starts crying or demanding my attention and the distraction keeps me in the here and now.
- I am much more productive. I have to be more organized and on top of things. I am responsible for the lives of other people with different needs, habits, and schedules. I have to meet their needs and mine and make all of our schedules sync. So I have to be more efficient in order to get lots of things done for three people. That doesn’t mean that I was not efficient before, but out of pure necessity I have found ways to be even more so. For instance, I have become a pro at using my lunch break to get stuff done – running errands, scheduling appointments, making calls, etc. I have also gotten better at delegating tasks both at home and in the office to free up my time to focus on the big picture items, instead of opting to do everything myself to make sure it is done my way.
- I take more risks. I want my kids to believe that they can do anything. I believe in leading by example so I try and model the behavior that I encourage. This includes taking risks to prove to them all those cliches I was taught growing up – i.e. “nothing beats a failure but a try,” “nothing ventured nothing gained,” “you either win or you learn, you never fail,” and so on. Starting this blog was a risk for me because I am usually a very private introvert and I put my story out there and risk dealing with scrutiny from strangers and associates alike. But I know that by taking risks I show my children there is no limit to what is possible if they’re willing to work hard for what they want. So now I take a risk, work out the kinks, slay, rinse and repeat as necessary.
- I am not as quick to exit stage left. The me from 10 years ago was quick to drop people out of my life. At the first sign of drama I would write you off like you didn’t exist without looking back. Even people I couldn’t write off, like family members, I would boycott for long periods of time. Admittedly, not my best feature, but I was young and stubborn and I had all the answers like most young adults do. One time when I was about 16 I called my granddad to ask him to give me a ride somewhere and he told me I only called him when I needed something. My response was “well I won’t call you anymore” and I did not talk to my only grandfather for like 6 months. Nowadays I am less stubborn and more willing to take some bad with the good and some drama, as life has taught me that I know no perfect people (not even myself). Life is messy. People are messy. And the people I love will undoubtedly bring me drama and fall short of my expectations. And I will undoubtedly do the same for them. I don’t have to eat bullshit and let people walk all over me, but I also can’t define everyone by every little mistake they make. I have to be willing to allow people a margin of error. And also I realize that the people I have in my life are in my children’s lives. So while I might have the ability to just put people on the chopping block I have to consider what their absence will mean for my children.
Okay, your turn. How have your children changed you for the better? Yes, parenting is hard and overwhelming, but there is beauty in the struggle. Let me know on facebook or twitter how being a parent has made you better.