I've been mulling this one over in my mind for days and procrastinating on writing it down. It's a big, big, BIG topic and I want to do it justice. Not sure if I'll manage to do it as much justice as I'd like, but hopefully you'll bear with me on it...
Before I get into it though....I gave myself a little pre-Christmas present. A peak at the scale. Would you believe that I'm down 19 lbs now? Seriously! And if things keep on track, I'll be down a full 20+ just in time for Christmas! That puts me just under 240 for my weight. And the funny thing about that? When I was nursing Lily, the weight literally just melted off. I ended up at about 190 by the time I got pregnant with Leo. Would you believe that I'm happier with my body now at 240 than I was when I was 190? I have more muscle tone! My 240 lb body can go for nearly an hour and a half on an elliptical with my heart rate in the 80-90% range! I actually shaved my legs this morning and marveled at how much easier it was to shave a muscular leg than a flabby one! Gotta love the details!
Okay, on to the real post! Leo always amazes me with how much he notices and sees. If there is a teeny tiny picture of Elmo anywhere within visible distance, Leo will find it and call out "Elmo!" He sees everything! And so does his sister! Quite literally, without exaggeration. They see everything. They see how I act, how I talk, how I eat. They see if I respond with kindness or rudeness. They see if I wrinkle my face with disgust over a stranger's smell. They see (and hear) if I swear at people in traffic. They see....when I give and give and give and never take a minute to take care of myself. They see when I let myself become so rundown that I want to curl up in bed and cry myself to sleep. They see. And they learn from it all. They learn to react to strangers with kindness if I respond to strangers with kindness. They learn to be rude and ignore people in need if that's what I do. If I say please and thank you and your welcome, they learn those phrases. If I use food to comfort myself when I'm stressed and unhappy, they learn to do that too. If I over-indulge, they learn to over-indulge. If I take a few moments to take care of myself, to eat well, and to keep my stress levels within reason, they see that and they learn to do that too.
See? I told you it was a big subject! Really, it's enormous and all-encompassing. You see, I had what I call an "epiphany moment" the other day. State budgets are tight and things are being cut. As a society, we value education and intelligence. We educate our children in schools. They learn concepts, how the world works, and the knowledge they will need to find a place for themselves in that world. They learn work-ethic from watching their parents and from being taught how to work for the things they want. Schools even teach them how to exercise and there's a big push lately for upgrading their lunch programs to teach them how to eat properly. But....they learn how to nurture and how to care for themselves from us, their caretakers, their parents (my epiphany thought). Just for clarification purposes, nurture isn't just what we do for our children. We nurture each other. We nurture friends, strangers, and anyone and everyone we come into contact with, in some way or another. It can be a good kind of nurture, like restoring someone's faith in people by offering a kind hand, a kind word, a kind smile. Or it can be negative, like smirking, laughing at someone's misfortune, responding in a rude manner. Our children learn all of this from us! When we don't take the time to care for ourselves, they learn that too. And so starts the cycle of parents who are too stressed, too tired, too burnt out to bother caring for themselves and really, who don't have the energy and emotional availability to care for their children in the best way possible. In order to teach our children to be the best people (and parents) they can possibly be, we need to teach them that it's important to take those moments for ourselves, to maintain our own physical and emotional health so that we can give our all to our families the rest of the time. We need to teach them that being a good parent does not mean being a martyr!
My question to leave you all with tonight....what are your children learning from watching you?