There’s this mirror at the San Francisco Exploratorium that shows you how you look to other people (regular mirrors show you a flip-flopped version of what you look like). I was shocked. Of course all I saw were my imperfections, but I couldn’t believe that my concept of how I look was different from what was truly seen by other people. I never thought I’d look into a clearer mirror – that is until I became a mom to a toddler.
My son just turned 4 years old and I’ve recently discovered that HE is the clearest mirror I’ll ever peer into. This is a mirror that shows me who I am, my essence as a human.
Like all mirrors I saw the imperfections first:
What did he just say? Where did he learn that?
Oh. My. God. That’s me! I say that!
Do I really sound like that when I say it? Wow. I’m a mean parent.
It was hard to swallow, but you can’t change until you understand what the problem truly is.
Then I started to see the good.
While my dad changed my grandmother’s bandages on her injured foot, Noah grabbed her hand and whispered to her, “Noah’s here, it’ll be OK. You’re so brave.” I saw my nursing compassion had carried over to him, and it melted my heart.
At the park he’ll frequently stand at the bottom of the slide yelling, “Come to me, I’ll catch you” to the other children.
He’s funny. Like, hilariously funny. I once accidentally grabbed four napkins for the dinner table and when he asked who the fourth napkin was for I jokingly said, “Carlos.” My husband, Steve, gave me a funny look and said, “Who’s Carlos?” Before I could think of a witty comeback Noah proclaimed loudly “MONTE CARLOS!!” That was a legitimate moment of “ROTFL” (roll on the floor laughing).
He gets anxious and has a hard time with change.
He gets really upset when he gets frustrated.
He wants to be independent but also needs a lot of support.
He loves to sing, dance, and be silly.
He is loving and gentle.
He makes the best faces.
He’s incredibly athletic.
He is me. He is Steve. He is the true mirror for our love, our marriage, our souls.
Those who have children know what I’m talking about. I’m sure that as they grow they start to deviate into their own identities. Changing the parts they don’t agree with or like. Evolving as a species.
But at four years old they’re just mirroring what they see. Their environment. Their models. Their exposure.
So we have to be careful. Careful who we are around them and who we expose them to.
Raising children is an enlightening experience. I’m always concerned about what I can teach my son, but I didn’t anticipate all he would teach me. I’ve never seen myself clearer.