Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Few Lessons From My Family

My life was extremely…different before I had my family. Or I should rather say that my perception was extremely different. I had experienced very little joy and much anguish…and it made me bitter, to say the least. But this post isn’t about how miserable I was. It’s about a few of lessons I have learned from my man and our child, from my family.

The first lesson is politeness. I never believed in polite conversation, meaning I didn’t believe in conversation for conversation’s sake. This will sounds silly but I learned how being polite can affect people from my man. When someone says “Hi. How are you” he always asks how they are doing in return. I never used to. I didn’t think anyone really cared when they asked that I didn’t want to be that fake person who asks but doesn’t expect a truthful answer. People would ask me how I was doing and I usually would tell them to ask me another question. Now I ask they are in return because I see that it makes them feel good, usually. I also say thank you all the time. For example I say thank you when I get off the shuttle that takes me from the mall parking lot to the college campus. I know that if one person is really nice to you it can make your entire day better. Before I knew Scott I wasn’t happy enough with life to behave this way. Now I know it is worth it.

Lesson two: children make all the difference. I’m the oldest of five children and helped my mother raise two before she remarried and had two more. I love children. I always have. The way they perceive the world, their mindset, their love, it’s all so amazing…but I never wanted to have kids. My picture of the world was too negative. I didn’t want to be responsible for bringing anyone else into it. My friends say they always knew I would have kids. I heard the words “Yes, mom” from them many times over the years. I guess I was always trying to take care of everyone. Even when I couldn’t be saved I still wanted to save others from the harshness of this world. And then I met Scott. It may be fair to say he saved me.

This is where the story gets cheesy and I tell you that falling in love has magical effects. At first I hadn’t changed my mind about having children, but before long I was actually considering it. Scott is very good with kids (he mentioned something once about being on their level). Although he hadn’t said it directly I could tell he wanted to have children, so one day I asked him why. After saying “Who said I did” and me explaining that I knew he did, he gave me the best answer anyone ever could. He said that he felt he could raise a child to be a good person thereby making the world a better place. About a year and nine months later I gave birth to our daughter.

Lesson three: not anticipating what happens next. This began learning this lesson from Scoot and then it was really driven home by our daughter. I went through this phase where I asked many people what their favorite thing in the world is. Scott’s answer was “not knowing what will happen next.” The idea is very attractive.

I was the type of person that was always anticipating what would happen next. I have an analytical nature, including much over-analyzing. This came in handy sometimes. I was always prepared during road trips. But I learned from my family that this behavior was taking my attention away from the moment I was living in. Instead of feeling the warmth of the moment I was too busy thinking about what would happen next. In the hospital, after our daughter was born, I should have been spent every second being engulfed in my new baby, even when we had visitors. But most of the time while we had visitors, I was nervously deliberating what should be happening over the next few days. I can see it in the pictures taken of us in the hospital. I was looking out beyond everyone. I should have been looking at my baby in every picture, and it pains me to know that I wasn’t. If we have another child I won’t make that mistake again.

The lesson didn’t fully set in on me until L was over a year old though. I did make sure to start cherishing every moment once we brought L home. In doing so the idea of her growing up too fast hasn’t been a problem. Unfortunately, I still felt the need to most days to have a plan, and if the plan didn’t get played out then the day was a bust. But very rarely do things go according to plan when you are a new mother, or even a mother of three I would imagine. I soon found out that the days when L and I had the most fun was when we had nothing planned. It was liberating to feel the freedom from worrying about anything. We would just have fun. Nothing more, nothing less, and I now find these periods to be the happiest, most comfortable and care-free times of our (my family’s) lives.

All I ever wanted was to be happy in life. For me happiness has to come from learning how to be happy. I am continuously learning and have been provided with the best reasons and tools to do so.