The memory is a vivid one: my toddler yelling, “No Stella. Go home Stella,” as the dog circles her high chair.
“Stella just wanted to say hello to you,” I tell her.
“Okay,” she replied.
In that moment, I saw myself. How I’ve often been annoyed with our furry baby in the past. Telling her to “go home” to her area each time she placed her head in my lap or leaned on my legs underneath the table.
That moment forced me to look at my own self in a way that I hadn’t. It wasn’t until I saw an undesirable behavior of mine manifested in my little one that I realized I needed to make some changes.
During the time I became pregnant and had given birth, I stopped loving on our dog the way I did before. I stopped extending the grace I once did when we brought her home, excited to have her as a part of our family. Instead I complained, because I was tired of always cleaning up dog hair, or because she had chewed a number of itty bitty baby things. But just like the rest of us, all she really wanted was to be loved. (I’m happy to report I’ve been much more patient and attentive to my furry baby these days.)
Our children are like mirrors. In looking at them, there are times when see our own selves. And seeing your child mimic an undesirable behavior that you taught them can be quite humbling. Yet at the same time, it is a catalyst prompting you to learn, adjust, and move on.
But with that come opportunities to capture a glimpse at the person you didn’t realize you are. Ever watch a toddler pat their baby doll on their back and gently rock them to sleep? Or have them wrap their arms around you when you are sad or shower you with kisses? The most loving, beautiful parts of who we are can be seen in our babies. Not to mention some of our funny quirks and mannerisms.
Perhaps you knew you were a caretaker, but did you realize that you love and nurture your babies with such care and thoughtfulness? So much so, that the very love that pours from your heart also pours from the heart of your child.
I find myself thankful for this chance to see myself in ways that I had not; a sweet indicator that I’m doing something right. Yet I’m also thankful for the chance to strive to create a reflection — a life — that mirrors love and kindness and grace. Because as a mother, I want my babies to embody the honorable parts of who I am. And in seeing myself through them, I am reminded that honor is earned. It is earned through the challenges and moments when you might have to dig deeper to respond with grace, and in those moments when you extend kindness even when the day has been awfully unkind to you.
As for those days when we aren’t our best selves — perhaps one of the gifts of seeing our reflection is the realization that what you see isn’t chiseled in stone. Each day is an opportunity, to continue to model and teach and pour into our littles and see the beauty that lies within ourselves and our babies.