Real Life

Monkey-see, Monkey-do… What am I teaching you little one?

October 4, 2017

I don’t know why they call them cat naps, when felines could sleep all day. But my daughter, in the days after newborn bliss was over, was a cat-napper. She was the queen of 45 minutes and I was left dumbfounded of what to do. I’d google, text friends, read, and try various methods to convince her she needed more daytime sleep. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes her bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed personality just wanted to get up and explore some more.

For some reason, in those early days, I started calling those little frustrations an ‘adventure’. When things didn’t go the way I wanted them to, I’d pack her up and we’d go explore the outdoors or a pretty store because I needed to change the scene. “We’re going on an adventure Elizabeth!” I’d say. Perhaps prompted by the ever-guiding Holy Spirit in me, I learned quickly that I needed to rename what could very well have been a major speed bump in my happy days at that time. Adventure.

And to this day, when we go out or something doesn’t work out as planned, I call it an adventure.

Something about becoming a mother has made me catch nearly everything I say and do and reanalyze it all. You? Suddenly, I am aware of what we eat, what I say, what I do (hello monkey see-monkey-do toddler days!) and what a few years down the road could look like by my actions and words today.

And if you were to keep replaying the tape of my constant dialogue (now with inserted jibberish as my daughter learns to talk) with Elizabeth, you’ll hear me catching myself saying things like, “Mommy should’ve brought that with us!” or “Mommy should’ve known that!” Seemingly innocent phrases, I began to realize how self-condemning my “shoulds” actually are. In essence, I am telling both myself and my daughter that mommy wasn’t good enough and should have known better.

Is that the language I want my daughter to be speaking in three to four years’ time about herself? Heck no.

So now, I am hunting for new words because we all know Mommy will forget something, leave something behind or make mistakes.

Let’s try this: “Mommy did her best to remember everything but oops!” or “Mommy was so busy taking care of you that we left that behind!” or “Mommy loves you so much that this is all we need today.” Doesn’t that reflect better on you and your efforts?

I was out last night and my husband told me that Elizabeth spilled her milk on the floor as she toddled around before bedtime. He said she put down her cup, went to the kitchen drawer where the cloths are that we wipe her hands with, and went back to wipe up her mess. This is both glorious and scary. “She is her mother’s daughter!” Troy said with a laugh.

What an enormous blessing and responsibility to shape these little ones!

Monkey-see, monkey-do, what am I teaching you today?

Mother or not, what words are you speaking and is it really the language you want to shape your future with? Let’s hunt for better ones together. We deserve it.

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