Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Jorinde Berben
Today is my daughter’s 9th birthday. She’s a lively, joyful, sensitive and spiritual girl. It’s such a privilege to be her mother that I couldn’t find the words to express my wonder even if I tried. Instead, I’d like to share with you some of the lessons my daughter have taught me in her 9 amazing years on this planet.
- You are accountable for your actions
My daughter will call me out on promises I make and break. I make few promises, but it still happens when get angry or when our situation changes, that I do something that isn’t in line with my intentions. She will hold me accountable for that, point it out to me and ask me to change my actions in the future. In this way, she is a very strong external conscience.
- Unconditional love
My children have taught me what unconditional love looks like, both in what I feel for them and in what I receive from them. It has helped me show myself the same kind of love, and more than anything, it has allowed forgiveness for their mistakes (obviously), but also for my own mistakes. My daughter still loves me infinitely (her words) even if I’ve been horrible to her earlier in the day.
- Spirituality is engrained in our being
I didn’t have to tell my daughter anything about what God means to me for her to have her own experience of spirituality. When she asked me questions about whether I believed and what God really was, I reflected them back to her experience and she equated God with the feeling of love she feels in her heart, a feeling that’s always there. That’s very close to how I would describe my experience of God-like energy as well.
- Emotions will go through you, but they don’t define you
My daughter is a spirited girl. She will flare up like a spark in a barrel of gun powder, but half an hour later will hang around my neck again saying she’s sorry. She doesn’t hang on to her emotions, or pushes them down. At least, not yet. Through her full and unfiltered experience of these different emotions, I am reminded, every day, to welcome my emotions into my experience as well so they can do what they need to do (I wrote about the importance of emotions in this post).
- To play is to live
My daughter is still very young at heart. She loves to play games, draw and run outside. Homework is a drag. And she’s right. She spends a lot of her time at a desk already in school, so when she gets home, she wants to be free. She still sees life as being inherently playful, which I’m learning to do again.
- Relationships are hard
As I see my daughter learning how to navigate jealousy, longing, leadership, disappointment and negotiation in her friendships and family relationships, I am reminded again and again of how patience and awareness it takes to navigate relationships successfully. Children can’t learn this in school (though some instruction in the matter would be really helpful, I think), but they learn as they go. And for many adults, including me, this is still the case.
- Nature is magical
My daughter is in love with nature. She revels at flowers and loves to look after animals. She notices birds singing and butterflies going by. My children taught me, early on, to go back to nature when things get rocky. It’s a place of healing, inspiration and finding energy.
- You get to decide what kind of girl you want to be
Dolls were never a favorite toy for my daughter. Neither was the play kitchen. She did have a fondness for trucks at 3 and a pretty long dinosaur phase at 4. Now, she loves to dress up in my clothes, but finds anything that’s too ‘chique’ over the top. The color pink is too girly for her, but make-up is totally wonderful. As a girl, and as a woman, you get to decide which part of the feminine nature fit you and which don’t. It’s your choice.
- Our bodies are a source of joy
If it’s a warm Summer day, my daughter enjoys nothing more than to run around naked in the back yard with her brother splashing water at each other. She is, as of right now, still seemingly unaware of all the rules our society has set up about how girls and women should look. She knows no shame yet about her body. To her, it’s the part of her that allows her to play, to feel, to enjoy. It lets her give hugs and taste chocolate. It lets her play tag and allows her to express herself. Seeing how she enjoys being in her body helps me to do the same and love my body more each day.
Lastly, my daughter also teaches me to trust myself and my intuition. Not because she always trusts her own instincts, but because I trust her instincts. I know she feels truths that she can’t possibly know about, because I did too when I was her age. I see so much of the little girl I once was, and still carry inside, that my love for her reignites my love for my inner child.
Being a parent has been the most important part of my life for the past 9 years, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. It’s been a rollercoaster, for sure, with ups and downs.
But oh, what an amazing ride!