5 years of lessons

1,825 days of laughter. 1,825 days of worry. 1,825 days of happiness, exhaustion and love … so much love!

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Yes — I’ve been a mom for five years.

It’s unreal.

I’ve lived a lot of life in my 35 years. Not to brag, but I’m incredibly lucky and have had some amazing experiences in those years. I lived in Bangladesh. I’ve traveled all over the world. I’ve gone sky diving, worn a “bite suit” and been attacked by a police K-9, slid down a fireman’s pole, went to Guatemala on assignment, rode in a helicopter, fostered a baby squirrel, met and interviewed our current president (when he was a senator) … the list goes on. All of that happened in my first 30 years before I became a mom.

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All of those experiences — while incredible and really memorable — don’t hold a candle to the adventure that is the journey of parenthood.

Seriously!

Don’t get me wrong, every day of this adventure hasn’t been awesome. In fact, many of them have been downright stinky and tough — most of year 3 I cried at least twice a day — but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Being a mom is what I was supposed to be. This is who I am; it’s my identity.

Tuesday night, on the eve of Miles turning 5, I sat with both of my boys on my lap, each sleepy and extra snugly. Moments like this, where they both have slowed down at the same time, don’t happen much these days. So I savor them. And on this day, the emotions were overwhelming.

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As they nuzzled into my chest, the tears cascaded and five years flashed before my eyes. I remember the first time I saw Miles, the first time I kissed his swollen cheeks, the sound of his hoarse cry. I remember those first waddled steps. I saw his stubby and stubborn legs kicking themselves over the side of the crib when he willfully decided he was too big for that thing. I can hear him sweetly singing “Tinkle, Tinkle Wittle Staw.” I watch him bravely skip into his first day of preschool. I recall the stress of searching for a nickel that he swallowed (use your imagination.) I smile as I recall the millions of questions — really, it has to be millions — of questions this kid who never stops talking has asked.

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Countless memories.

In honor of Miles’ fifth birthday, here’s five lessons parenthood has taught me.

1. Patience

I’m still working on this one. Let’s be real, I’ll always be working on this one. But parenthood has forced me to become a more patient person. You can’t be a parent without having patience, or at least not a very good one. And I’m not just more patient with my own kiddos, I’m just overall more patient. When I see that mom or dad with two kids and some coupons in front of me at the grocery store and for every two things she puts on the belt her 4-year-old puts one back in the cart … before I may have shied away from that lane fearing my tolerance level for that isn’t high enough. But now, I get it. I’m that mom. (Sorry! But I’m teaching you patience!)

2. Flexibility

I LOVE to plan. I LOVE lists. I make lists about the lists I need to make when I’m planning my planning process. But, with that being said, spending a lot of time in Third World countries already stretched this flexibility muscle. Let me tell you though, there’s nothing like trying raising two super spirited boys to teach you the value of flexibility. Me: “Let’s go to the zoo, swimming and then the grocery store.” Kids: “Let’s refuse to put on shoes or lose our swimming suits or decide that monkeys are scary because they aren’t purple and we CAN’T go to the zoo because it isn’t Thursday.” You have to be more accepting because things don’t go precisely as planned because … kids.

3. Work/ life balance

Work is awesome, but it is not everything. I love my job. I love the active role I’ve taken in the community as an engaged volunteer. I don’t plan on stopping those things. But there are only so many hours in a day and I want to make sure a good portion of them are spent focused on my family. So with parenting, my priorities have shifted some. I think it is a constant struggle for me and every other working mom and dad to get that work/life balance correct.

4. Little things

Children are magical. And part of that magic is their ability to help us see the magic of life again. I fancy myself as someone who can appreciate the little things, but Miles has opened my eyes to so much joy. This little boy has helped me laugh so much, he’s helped me embrace my inner kid — jump in puddles, make couch cushion forts, laugh at a good fart joke … wait a minute, I’m teaching him that.

5. Sleep and food

These things are so important. I mean, of course they are. They are real life necessities. But as a parent, your world revolves around naps, snacks and bed time. I never thought I’d be that person. But I am. And guess what, I’m OK with that.

My little people have changed my world. They’ve changed me so much. I love that. Thank you Miles for making me a mom 5 years ago and sticking with me this long!

Not so innocent

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