A couple of days after I became a mother, an elderly lady came up to me and said, “he will teach you as much as you will teach him”. As the months pass by, I can appreciate how true that really is. In our modern, busy world, we are forgetting the importance of listening to our own innate wisdom. Babies are so pure, unconditioned, surviving on love and instincts, it’s unsurprising that they can teach us valuable life lessons.
Lesson 1: Determination is the Key to Success
I’ve never seen determination like it, the focus on his little face when he wants to do something and the smile that slowly develops once he has accomplished it. He will sit there for ages concentrating on a task we would consider to be simple. When he cannot do something, he tries and tries again until he can. Sometimes he gets frustrated that he cannot crawl and after ten minutes of unsuccessfully trying to propel himself forward, a melt down occurs. I pick him up, calm him down, but he doesn’t give up. As soon as he is back on his play mat, he rolls onto his stomach to try again. Last week, he managed to drag himself forwards and grab his toy.
How often have you really wanted to do something but it goes completely wrong, so you abandon it? Imagine where you would be now if you still had the determination you were born with!
Lesson 2: If Things Get Too Much, Take a Nap
After a long day of learning, someone can get really grumpy. When he’s not hungry or wet, he is exhausted so he will cry until we start to rock him to sleep. The crying is usually way more intense if he has had a big dose of sensory stimulation, such as going out for a walk or meeting new people. However grumpy he was before the nap, he wakes up with a huge smile on his face.
Sometimes we get so overwhelmed, we need a system reboot. If I am feeling sad about something, it always seems better in the morning. I know we adults don’t have the luxury of being able to nap when we like, but I find value in just being mindful that heavy things may feel lighter after some sleep.
Lesson 3: Seek Out New Experiences & Discover the World
When faced with something new, Rohan puts it straight into his mouth to find out what it tastes like. When it comes to discovering new things, he will give anything a go. Babies have the curiosity of nine cats, always busy and reaching out towards new things (sometimes things they aren’t allowed to have, like paneer butter masala). It’s not always successful, but even when it’s not, it’s still a learning experience.
What if we could wipe away our fears, doubts and assumptions and just go for it and try new things everyday. Think of all the things we could discover if we were readily able to reach outside of our comfort zone like babies do. How many new skills or passions could we collect?
Lesson 4: Express yourself
Babies don’t cry without reason, they rarely hold grudges and are unable to put up a front. They show how they are feeling so their needs can be met, so they can survive and be happy. I guess babies live the most authentic lives, they don’t feel trapped by society, culture or fear judgement.
If only we could communicate freely and express our feelings instead of holding them in our chest, leaving them there to slowly fester and grow heavier. Of course, sometimes we have to filter our thoughts to protect the feelings of others, but how many times have you silenced yourself for another reason? We sometimes hold back due to our fear of not being good enough, judgement or ridicule. Effective communication and creative expression is definitely essential if we want to be healthy and authentically happy adults.
Lesson 5: See the Joy in the Little Things
Did you know that a newspaper fluttering in the wind could be absolutely hilarious? I didn’t until I watched Rohan laugh hysterically whilst he watched the pages dancing in the breeze. Smiling and laughter is contagious (it does help if it’s gummy and between two chubby cheeks) and spreads joy. Babies are naturally little joy magnets (except when they are exhausted or hungry) but we can all connect with our inner child from time to time and laugh at inanimate objects which can dance.
Watching your baby develop makes you realise how moments fly by in an instant, babies don’t stay babies for long. It’s important to try and appreciate every fleeting moment, every gummy giggle and contented cuddle.
If motherhood has taught me anything, it’s the importance of smiles, trusting your instincts, joyful learning and sleep!!