These Are The Things Motherhood Teaches You

It was a little past midnight and I had just tucked my almost-two-year-old into bed. Alone times are hard to come by these days, and with a very active toddler and an equally active nine-year-old, it’s truly a miracle when it happens. So when they both went to bed early and were asleep before one in the morning, I knew what I wanted to do—have coffee, fix myself some breakfast, and catch up on my reading.

It sounded like a good plan for a Friday night so I peeled myself out of bed ever so gently and tiptoed to the door, ready to enjoy a “me” time that was long overdue. But before I could even turn the knob, out of our sea of comforters emerged my nine-year-old, wide-eyed (obviously wasn’t asleep the whole time) and in a stance that’s ready to pounce should I exit our bedroom without explaining.

“You’re going down to have coffee?!” She asked, but more like demanded an answer.

Before I could even open my mouth to say yes, she already said “I’m going down with you!” without batting an eyelash, and sprinted down our hallway to the stairs. There goes another “me” time, interrupted long before it could even commence. I sighed and had wanted to negotiate but in retrospect, she has always been my little tail. When she was only two, we would go down around midnight and have “coffee” together— I with a real cup of coffee while she would have a glass of milk. She is the Kumi to my Iho even up to this day, and in all those times that she tries to wiggle her presence into my supposedly midnight breathers, she was already teaching me how to be selfless with my time and attention.

Motherhood teaches you to be selfless, and selflessness doesn’t necessarily have to be grand.

It’s not always about the big things, there are those little things too that mean just as much. I could have dismissed my nine-year-old, telling her that I needed this time for myself but at that moment, I let her accompany me. I let her share everything she’s discovered that day, I let her show me what she has drawn, what she chanced upon while browsing and reading, and I let her lead the conversation. We took it as a chance to talk and connect, something that her dad and I often do, that she has often seen too. And when she realized that she had pretty much shared what she wanted to share, she then let me be. She headed upstairs and told me to enjoy the rest of my coffee. Motherhood teaches you selflessness, and it swells and ripples and it reaches your child without you even knowing it.

Motherhood teaches you to be selfless, and selflessness doesn’t necessarily have to be grand.

I’ve found myself on the receiving end of my own judgment and scrutiny one too many times. Like what they all say, we are our own worst critics and when it is coupled with others’ opinions and takes on our parenting style, we, more often than not, let our inner dialogue get the best of us. It has been like that for me for the better part of my adult life but if there’s one lesson that I will always hold dear in this motherhood journey, it has to be the very idea of being kinder to myself.

I have learned to drown out all the unnecessary noise, have stopped considering what others might and have to say, and have given more importance to how to be a better mom to my little tribe. Over the years, I have gained the humility to accept criticisms constructively but I’ve also learned to distance myself from people who, at the very least, have our best interests at heart.

Motherhood will help you tap into your infinite well of patience, the one you always thought was non-existent until you became a mother yourself. You will find yourself constantly negotiating with your toddler: from learning to say no when they want to play outside in the rain, or saying no to going out in the garden at 12 in the morning.

But more than just the negotiating, it’s the learning to pick your battles that truly matters. Is that bag of elbow macaroni that she wants to add to her already full sensory bin really worth stressing over? Or is that silicone bib worth the wrestling stint with your toddler, at the dining table, who wants to eat without it? After three birth stories, I’ve now learned to pick my battles wisely—be it with my kids or for my kids—as some circumstances are just not worth my peace.

Motherhood is a transformative journey and it changes you in ways you would never have thought possible. But through all the twists and turns, the ups and downs, you will realize that how you react to certain situations, how you deal with life’s frailties, and most importantly, how you carry and project yourself, your kids will always emulate.

Motherhood teaches you to be more mindful and discerning not of others, but of yourself. This, to benefit not just yourself but the little people as well who look up to you. Their being likened to a sponge will remind you that all you do, is how your children will represent themselves too.

Motherhood has steep learning curves with no manuals nor prerequisite training to prepare you for the toughest job there is but it is innate, and it is best navigated through, with people who only want what’s best for you. So pick your tribe, nurture the gift of family, and embrace your own brand of motherhood because, at the end of the day, the only validation you need is that from your little tribe, and from your own. Especially your own.

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