9 Things I Learned From My 2 Year Old Baby Girl
Two years ago I gave birth to the most wonderful person on this planet. Every day she brings a huge smile on my face and opens my eyes to so many things I was previously missing. Before she was born I thought it would be my job to teach her everything about the world. As it turns out, there are equally many things that I get to learn now from her.
Here’s a few things my baby girl taught me so far. I’m sure that as she grows up, there will be even more.
There’s no bad weather, only inappropriate clothes. Adults complain about the weather all the time. Luckily, my little girl hasn’t noticed yet that it’s a thing. When it’s raining, she likes to go out and jump around in the puddles. When it’s windy, she’ll take a balloon outside and watch it dance in the wind. I used to hide inside as fast as I could when it was cold or raining. Now I know there are clothes that will let you sit or roll in grass in pretty much any weather.
Whatever you do, do it as a ceremony. Before my daughter was born I used to rush through my everyday chores, trying to complete everything as fast as I could. When we do them together, we do it slowly and fully focused on the task at hand Suddenly, loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, or peeling potatoes can become an occasion to have fun together and even something to look forward to. Yes, it takes us three times longer than it used to, but we’re not in a hurry. There’s nothing else we’d rather be doing anyway.
Every little thing affects you. In the past I haven’t paid much attention to my physical surroundings. I lived most of my life online anyway. Luckily, my daughter brought me back to the physical world, and helped me notice how the stuff around us affects our mood, energy, and ability to focus on anything. When she has too many toys in her play corner, she’s too overwhelmed to play with any of them. When I arrange her favorite candles in a deliberate manner, she can just sit calmly and watch them for hours.
Hang out by the fire. Speaking about candles, I don’t think I’ve ever burned so many of them before. My daughter has such incredible reverence for the fire, the first time she saw a fireplace she was completely mesmerized. In the past, every house had an open fire that kept the whole family fed and warm. Now that we cook and heat our homes with electric appliances, some very subtle kind of magic is missing. Even a few candles lit up in a room can suddenly make it feel much more alive.
And other elements too. How often do you usually roll in fresh grass, jump around in a puddle, dig in mud, or climb a tree? I thought I did it more often than most people, and then I had a kid. Even if you consider yourself a nature lover, babies and toddlers will still surprise you with how much they want to engage with the elements. Getting dirty is definitely not going to stop them from doing that.
Pay attention to the sky. If there’s something that ignites more awe and wonder in my daughter than fire, it’s the Moon. Even before she could walk, she’d always point to the Moon whenever it showed up in the sky. These days, she’ll watch for the stars and Moon every day when it gets dark, and even has her own special nicknames for both. The last few months in Warsaw were very cloudy, so if one of them suddenly shines through the clouds, it’s a big occasion to celebrate.
All animals are wonderful. I remember how we were feeding ducks in park once, and a wild rat appeared out of nowhere. My first reaction was a bit of a shock combined with disgust. But my daughter was so excited to see a rat for the first time, and so enthusiastic to feed him too, that I could no longer have anything against this poor little creature. Rats too are our distant cousins after all.
The world is alive. Would you sing a song to the Moon? Read books to animals or stuffed toys? Show your tablet to an airplane so that you can watch cartoons together? My daughter does. To her there’s no difference between our rescue dog and her stuffed teddy bear. Both are alive in their own ways, both can be admired and engaged with, both of them deserve her love and attention.
Love and attention is all you need. The biggest surprise since my baby girl was born is how much she loves hanging out with my dad. The feeling is mutual, they just can’t get enough of each other. My dad is a different person now. I never thought he could be so patient and caring, and probably neither did he. He says nobody ever loved him like this little girl does.
Happy birthday, my sweetest little nugget! You’re the best teacher I could have ever had.
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Aww…I love this essay to the moon and back!
Kids are so wise and brave and full of love ❤️
Like you, I too had thought that being a mother would bring me this huge responsibility of teaching and guiding a tiny human. But I’ve learned more from my son than I could ever teach him.
I’d associated teaching with preaching and doing. But being around my little one made me realise that it’s about being.
Kids teach us their priceless lessons by being their amazing little selves. It’s a pure, undiluted wisdom ✨
I used to take my youngest daughter to the mall on rainy days, so she could climb in the play structure and I'd get my daily walk in. Jamie was 4, and living in the Pacific Northwest meant that we were at the mall almost daily. We would get there early, before the stores opened.
There were others that were there, that morning. Moms like me with small kids in strollers or older people sitting on benches. There were always the eager shoppers, too, waiting for their favorite stores to open.
On that particular day, we entered at the South Entrance and heard Christmas music as the door closed behind us..As we started our stroll to the play structure on the north end of the mall, we chatted about the Christmas window displays. Jamie's excitement was infectious!
As we walked towards the center of the mall, the music shifted from traditional Christmas music to a top ten Pop hit. The clerks in one of the trendy clothing stores were putting sales items on tables, putting up the signs and getting the store ready. A group of shoppers hung around loosely, waiting for the door grate to slide up and let them in..
Right in front of everybody waiting, Jamie started twirling.. "Dance with me, Mama!"
I looked around at the crowd, embarrassed. "That's okay, honey. You go ahead..."
Jamie shimmied and twirled and shouted, "C'mon! It's fun!" It looked like fun, but having a reserved personality, I was still too embarrassed to join her with a crowd that was all just standing there, watching. I could feel eyes watching me!
Jamie stopped dancing, tilted her little head and looked up at me, then grabbed my hand and said the most amazing thing. Later, looking back and remembering this, I cried. Her words changed my life! She said, softly:
Sometimes, ya just GOTTA dance, Mom!
She twirled away, knowing I'd follow! Suddenly the crowd got smaller. There were just as many people, but in my mind, they shrunk and became insignificant.
I twirled and shimmied and felt Jamie's joy in those moments. We giggled and laughed and didn't even stop dancing in between songs. It was so Joyous and Free! It was something I had never felt before! I looked up and caught the eye of an elderly gentleman leaning on a cane.. He had the most gorgeous smile, and he winked at me as we twirled past him... I realized other kids and moms had joined in our impromptu dance, and even three young teens!
The music faded and a store employee opened the grate and welcomed people inside to shop. Jamie face was glowing and her eyes sparkled as she skipped over to the clerk to thank her for playing "songs to dance to."
As I waited for her I realized there was a scattering of applause! People said their thanks to me. A mom gave me a hug and told me she wouldn't have been brave enough to be the only adult out there dancing, but when I stepped in to dance, she was pulled in, and danced with her daughter, too!
Less than a year later,, in August, Jamie suddenly passed away one week after a health checkup. She had an undiagnosed fatal heart condition, something that could only be seen on an EKG.
My Sweetness & Light left us in the blink of an eye. She was here one moment and gone the next. My journey through grief was difficult and long. Even in the depths of my grief, I was -- and still am -- grateful that I was chosen to be Jamie's mother.
There were other things she REMINDED me of, like how much fun playing with snails can be. And some things she taught me, like how some four year olds can actually be responsible and careful with a sharp pocket knife, and get immense pleasure from sitting on the front stoop and "wiggling" (whittling) a bunch of sticks.
But, I am not sure anybody else on this planet could have taught me about simple things in life in such a profound way. I recommend it as a philosophy, that you won't understand until you free yourself and just do it. It is so simple; so profound, and ringing of innocence and truth:
Sometimes, my friends, ya just GOTTA dance!