Raising a child and seeing your hard work pay off in each of their milestones is a deeply rewarding experience. Not only do our children give back love, purpose, and happiness, but if we pay attention, they can teach us many lessons. My son, Gabriel, turned 5 months old last week and I’ve been reflecting on some of the gifts he has given me.
1. Life would be easier if we listened to our bodies more often.
Babies sleep when they are tired, no questions asked. If they have to use the washroom, they do it immediately. Why hold waste in if you have the option of expelling it?
Thirsty? Then drink something. Stay hydrated. And if you’re hungry, eat. But only what you need. Gabriel has taught me that gluttony is not in our true nature. Gluttony is learned over time, taught by a consumerist Big Mac-and-Large-Fry culture.
And if there is something wrong with us that we can’t fix on our own, seek help.
2. Our differences do not define us. We are equal.
My father was born with one arm. I grew up with this abnormality in my life, and to me, it’s normal. I often forget he is missing one. Gabriel will grow up this way, too.
When I was younger, I suffered a case of staph infection that left my chest and back severely scarred. We are all different, but he loves us regardless. When people young and old, or of different ethnicities, stop to see him, he smiles and reaches out just the same. As he gets older, I’ll have to fight to preserve this ideal, but for now, it’s what he knows.
3. It doesn’t take much to be happy.
What makes Gabriel the happy? When his Mom cuddles him, or when I bounce him on my knee or smother him in kisses. He loves his stuffed moose, and he gets hysterically happy when he can splash in the tub. He likes music, and being read to. But he smiles the biggest when he sees us after we’ve been gone for a bit. Our presence alone, of those he loves, makes him happy. Also…
4. True happiness is contagious.
That baby’s little smile has the biggest effect on our hearts. When he’s happy, so are we. When we are in a good mood, so is he.
As complex as our species can be, our needs and desires are rather simple: to belong, to love, to be loved, and to be fulfilled. Often, they are all directly related to another. Cultivate one and the rest will come. What better way to cultivate love than in the heart of a child?
5. Life is wondrously beautiful.
Take, for example, the sky–a vast expanse of such pure blue, dotted with puffy white clouds and a bright ball of light that makes us warm when it touches our skin. Gabriel is so utterly fascinated with the sky.
Think about colours, too. The concept is magical, and very complex, but to some, they just exist and that’s it. They are so beautiful, so incredible, and for us to dismiss them as just another normal thing is insane. Gabriel loves red, and is fond of blue, too. And don’t get me started on animals or plants.
This is one thing I’m proud to say I never lost. Seeing beauty in all things, I mean. Sometimes you forget. And that’s okay. Life is hard. But every now and again, we’re lucky enough to be reminded.