I am a young mother. In fact, sometimes I still can’t believe I’m responsible for another person, my daughter, who was born 3 months before my 24th birthday. She was a surprise and not in the, “I don’t know where babies come from” kind of surprise, but in the “wow, we were using protection, how did this happen?” kind of surprise. While I could write for years about what a hard decision it was to become a young mother (note a follow on article is sure to come), what I really want to share with you is how much my daughter helped me be a better me, and how important these lessons have transformed my existence. Yes, a little tiny human, running around with pig tails in my living room, helped me be a better me. So much so, I want to share what I’ve learned with you and spare you the actual ‘having to have the baby’ part. At least for now. The baby that is…
I was happier, kinder, and more excited about life.
When I was a teenager, and a young adult, I thought I was a really good person. But, when I became pregnant, and then for sure after I gave birth, I quickly learned there was so much more to me than I ever imagined. I had a much deeper capacity for empathy, love, life and living! What surprised me the most during that time was my own transformation. I was happier, kinder, and more excited about life. So much so, I have actually become a better friend, partner, sister, daughter, mom and most importantly, a better version of myself. One that I am proud of, confident in, and one that is ready to take on the world. Within my journey of self reflection, there are five lessons I keep coming back to.
Lesson 1: Balance
Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, but you also have to get through the week, which may mean finding a balance between school, a job, family, friends, sports, activities and more. Finding time for yourself can be a challenge (believe me, I’ve got a toddler on my lap 90% of the time these days), but it’s important to take at least a few minutes each day just for yourself. That 10% of time for you may just mean meeting your friends for brunch, even if you’ve got a full day of homework ahead. Don’t be afraid to prioritize YOU. Go to brunch! Balance means learning to fit time in for yourself and will be an important practice now and in the future. Enjoy life, don’t stress, make plans, and find your balance.
Lesson 2: Flexibility
Before having a baby, I was on time to everything. I had a plan, and darn it, I was sticking to it!! But, after having my daughter, my plans quickly turned into “guidelines.” Life is messy, and whether you’re changing diapers or filling out college applications, flexibility is key. Being rigid can cause unnecessary stress, because (trust me!) life throws a lot of curve balls. So take deep breathe, go with the flow, and readjust. Sometimes the unexpected can be best parts of life. It’s all about the journey, not necessarily the destination – So just keep on keepin’ on – and all will be good.
Lesson 3: Sincerity
This means putting an end to negativity, and jealousy.
To be sincere seems simple enough, but I reached a different level of sincerity when I was no longer the most important person in my life. When you start to put another person’s feelings and needs before your own, you learn to truly want more and the best for everyone around you. This means putting an end to negativity, and jealousy. When a friend, or even a frenemy, is successful – it in no way diminishes your accomplishments. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else, and you will be SO much happier. Sincerely support the people around you, and I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly you all rise together.
Lesson 4: Gentleness
To put it plainly, I am by nature blunt. Some may even say harsh at times. However, the gentle affection that comes with caring for a 6-month-old with a fever at 2 in the morning has seeped into other areas of my life. And I’m a better friend and person because of it. As a teen, we all have dreams and a whole lot of feelings. It’s important to remember to be gentle with our opinions, and never judge too quickly. Life can be harsh, and learning to be gentle with people’s hearts can help make the world (and your place within it) a much happier place. Remember, you never know somebody’s story until you have walked in their shoes. Giving others the benefit of the doubt, and acting with gentle, accepting graciousness is a gift that will do more for you than the receiver of that goodness.
Lesson 5: Love
Open yourself up to others, and open yourself to love!
What they say is true, there is a different kind of love you experience when you have a child. But I really don’t think you need to become a mom to understand love’s importance in your life. My daughter has taught me to love and love hard. I was once a very guarded person, holding my emotions close to my chest. But, please hear my when I saw this, it’s no way to be. Open yourself up to others, and open yourself to love! Love your friends, love your family, love your dog, love the guy on the sidewalk, love the checker at the grocery store!! Do what you can to love all those that are in your world. Everybody has a journey, everybody deserves a bit of love. Whatever or whoever you love, love in a way that lets your heart lead the way and silences your brain’s overthinking. Even if it is just a smile and a thank you. A little bit of love goes a long way.
I hope you take some of these lessons to heart. I learned so much when I became a mom. But it doesn’t mean you need to be a mom to LEARN. So get out there, be the best you. You are amazing. You are good. Own it.