i was thinking today about this post that i wrote for zora's first birthday about what i learned during the first year of her life.
it's been two years since that post, and i still feel like mothering zora teaches me so much. here's a few lessons i've been chewing on lately:
1) perfection is not the goal. i like to aim for "good enough" and often enjoy the gap between "good enough" and perfection more than i would perfection. case in point: last night, on the eve of her third birthday, mike and i found zora in the kitchen mopping the floor - with an adult size mop. was the floor spotless this morning? no. was it worth it for the moment that she said "get out of here, guys. i'm mopping!" was it worth it to see our little girl proud of her accomplishment? hell yes on both counts.
2) guilt is a mother's worst enemy. enough said.
3) not getting your way all the time is really hard to get used to - for small children and adults. but it's also an essential skill for living in the world. i find that i have more empathy for zora's crying/whining/anger at being told no when i remember how hard it is for me to not be able to sleep in on the weekends anymore or get to go out after work on a whim without checking in with mike about picking up zora or have much time just for myself except for late at night when i'm a zombie. but i also know that those disappointments are greatly offset by the joy i get out of being a mother. so i know when zora is mad about a limit that i have set that in the long run she will benefit.
4) a good cry and a warm hug are cures for many things.
5) most adult style is very boring. most of us adult people have been indoctrinated into the idea that bright colors should not be worn together and that we better watch out for "clashing" patterns (such as stripes with polka dots). we are so, so wrong! i am inspired by zora and her friends' fashion choices.
6) as i said in the post referenced above, being in the present moment is one of the gifts motherhood brought into my life. however, i have also learned over the last 2 years that being in the present moment = a lot of big feelings. i love that zora and her friends can become so mad/sad at each other, express their feelings in a big way, and then be the best of friends a few moments later. i think there is something freeing about that level of honesty - it's raw, it hurts, but it's also clean. there's no baggage, no grudges, no passive aggressive communication. when they are mad, they're mad. and when they're happy, they're happy. i think there's something to learn here...
7) children have a remarkable memory and the old cliche about children being sponges is so true! it makes me marvel at our amazing human brains. i was reading zora we march, a wonderful book about the civil rights movement. it has a page that says "we march for justice." to which zora replies,"we say 'justice' when we go outside." i say, "what?" zora says, "remember when we went to occupy philly? not the old occupy philly but the new occupy philly and then there were a lot of people and we said 'justice'?"
8) the greatest joy is in the smallest things. tonight zora was yelling happily at the moon. we got on the bus to come home, and she said sadly "bye bye moon." when we got off the bus, she spotted it again - when we were half-way across a very busy street. she started jumping up and down madly and pointing at the moon and yelling "the moon! the moon!" what luck to get to spend time with a person who notices the moon, the pictures on a carton of milk, the smallest scratch on your hand, and wonders why giraffes are yellow in real life but purple on her washcloth.
9) self-esteem is not about success. it's about trying, and failing, and trying again until you can do it yourself (see #1) and feeling the glory of having figured it out. see: crawling, walking, feeding yourself, potty training, getting dressed by yourself, puzzles, learning to write your name, etc.
10) the world is a wonderful, amazing, difficult, heartbreaking place. i am so grateful for zora.