I’m so often surprised at all that being a mother has taught me. And equally, how much my children have taught me. When you think of a parent and child, you always think of the parent as the teacher. But often, it is actually the child that teaches. And they seem to know just the lesson that you need. It’s as if their little souls had a sit-down meeting with God before they were born. And they discussed where they were going, who their parents would be, and what their parents needed help with. For instance, that meeting with my kids would have gone something like this:
God: Welcome, little one. Your parents will name you Zoe.
Zoe: Well, that sucks. Can’t they name me Dora?
God: Sorry kid, they’re pretty set on Zoe. And you’re very needed. Your mom and dad are decent people and hard workers, but they sleep waaaaaay too late and can be slobs. And your mother is the most unorganized person on Earth. (And I should know.) She’s also a little impatient, moody and has a bit of a temper. Can you help her out with that?
Zoe: Thanks so much for sending me to two mean lazy slobs. Was there no one else?
God: There is, but you are perfect for them. That’s what I do. I send you to who I think needs you the most, and who you need the most. You are meant for each other. You will help them to be better people, and they will love you and teach you everything. And your mom will buy you really cool clothes-she’s good at that.
Zoe: Oh, alright.
My beautiful daughter has taught me oh-so-much. She was a very colicky infant and basically screamed for the first 4 months of her life, and it tested me in ways that I’ve never been tested before. It put a strain on my marriage. But it also made me, and my marriage, stronger. She taught me to love deeper than I ever thought was humanly possible. Zoe is kind, gentle, generous, loving and caring. When she hugs you, she hugs with her whole body and squeezes as tight as she can. She loves fiercely. And I am in awe of her every day. I think about the kind of woman she’ll be one day, and I tear up because I just know how wonderful she is and how wonderful she will be. That girl is special; there is no denying it.
13 months after my daughter was born, there was another conversation.
God: Welcome, little one. Your parents will name you Brody.
Brody: Cool. Will there be waffles there?
God: Oh, yes. Lots and lots of waffles. I am sending you to a family where there is already a little girl. You will be best friends.
Brody: Are her toys cool?
God: Very. And she will share them with you. You will be quite a character, Brody. You will make your parents want to laugh and scream at the same time. You will be funny. You will be very stubborn, just like your mother, and it will help her be less stubborn. You will teach her not to sweat the small stuff.
Brody: What does that mean?
God: It means that sometimes your mom gets upset at things that don’t really matter. You will help her to stop doing that.
God: By doing so many things that will drive her crazy she will have no choice but to only get upset about a few of them.
Brody: Right on, I’m down with that. As long as there’s waffles.
Or something like that. Children are such an amazing blessing. A gift. How many gifts teach you patience, unconditional love, understanding, compassion, empathy and about a billion other things? None. (Although I do have a pair of shoes that I swear when I wear them, I’m smarter.) Our children bring out the best possible person in us. And yes, sometimes the worst. They make us the best possible version of ourselves. It’s like you become who they need you to be. Because God thought long and hard about what you are capable of, and sent you the child who would help you realize that. And on the flip side, some kids need a little more love and attention. So God sends those kids to parents who can do just that. Maybe sometimes it’s because those parents are broken-or have a void and need something to fill it. Enter those special kids. I think those sit-down meetings took just a little bit longer.
On this Mother’s Day, I am feeling so incredibly grateful. And proud. Proud of the people my children are becoming, and proud of my husband and I for doing alright at this parenting thing. I might have a few Cruella deVille moments here and there that I’m not especially proud of, but I’m pretty sure God knew that would happen and knew my kids would forgive me. Because we are all a perfect fit.