The last few weeks have had me in a perpetual state of anxiety. First, I became ill with an inability to eat and an urgent & unrealistic need to stay away from my children in order to prevent them from catching my bug. Then immediately on the heels of slowly turning the illness corner and successfully eating one meal, it was time to take my youngest to the hospital for surgery. It was while watching him sleep off the anesthesia and then fight to stay awake that I had an epiphany. Toddlers can teach us a lot about being resilient if we open our minds to the experience.
When the doctors said it would be at least a day before my son would want solid food, he instead requested it one hour after surgery concluded. They said he would be cranky and likely need pain medications every four hours, he didn’t need them until 72 hours after surgery. And only after his throat began scabbing. RESILIENT! Thankfully I have had the honor to witness resilience in action within other moment to moment discoveries of his two years on this earth. Here are the top 3 lessons he has taught me:
1. Every minute is a new adventure – Toddlers do not waste time analyzing their inadequacies. They instead utilize all of their brain power and energies on figuring out how to get to whatever caught their interest. Try as we might to distract them from their goal, short of physically removing them from the object in question, they continue towards their goal. What great things we could accomplish if we were more like them.
2. Take time to enjoy the little things – Toddlers find enjoyment in everything. Saying hello to others in line brings a smile & a tickle generates a laugh. An airplane flying in the sky makes them stand in place pointing to the sky full of glee. We view the line as a waste of time and the plane as too loud. Maybe we should adopt the toddler perspective and bring more smiles & laughs into our lives.
3. When you fall down, get right back up – Toddlers personify the saying, don’t cry over spilled milk. They fall, shed a few tears then jump back up and begin again. The cycle repeats until they reach the point in which they are satisfied with their progress. There are no periods of wallowing in self-pity or feelings of defeat. No overwhelming need to obtain approval from other people, they find ways to motivate themselves. During the course of growing up, we sometimes lose sight that the only person we need to motivate us is the same face staring at us in the mirror’s reflection.
Of course toddlers have one major cool factor which allows them to have a sense of security to explore and achieve, they are gifted with caregivers who love and support them through their adventures. They are free from the day-to-day worries of mortgages, food, and employment. But even with the burdens we carry, we still maintain the freedom to take time for adventures as we get back up from our failures. The only thing standing in our way is the reflection of ourselves that we see in the mirror.
Til next time,
“Actions express priorities” – Mohandas Gandhi