This I Believe

Stephanie - Bellingham, Washington
Entered on March 3, 2007

There are many things that a new parent must learn. Many activities I have stumbled through, hoping for the best, telling myself to have faith that the love I feel for my child will navigate me through the sleepless nights, bouts of crying, and odd smells.

But I believe that there are many far more important lessons to be learned from an infant. In the year since my daughter, Eva, was born, I have been given a lifetime’s worth of priceless knowledge. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Lesson #1: Appreciate your reflection.

When Eva was three months old, I sat next to her on the floor as she wriggled around on her activity mat, batting at the stuffed toys that dangled above her head. Shortly I heard her giggle. Pause. Squeal. Pause. Giggle. Pause. Squeal. I turned away from my book to watch her. She was gazing at her reflection, grinning, eyes bright, reaching out to touch the little mirror which sat off to her left. Then, when she’d had as much as she could take, she turned her face toward the ceiling and hiccupped with delight, arms and legs flailing. Seconds later, she was drawn back to the mirror, only to have the same reaction again and again.

I work every day to appreciate the strengths, not the flaws, which reside in my reflection. To see the beauty and originality that emerges from inside me, and to allow my reflection to make me smile.

Lesson #2: Find humor in simple things.

I have made up silly songs and dances and contorted my face into millions of expressions in an effort to hear the music of Eva’s laugh. But nothing makes her laugh as hard as our cat. The cat could be sleeping, eating, walking by, or cleaning herself. It doesn’t matter. Once Eva lays eyes on her, a gigantic belly laugh erupts.

I have watched Eva enjoy things that I have always taken for granted. Through her eyes I have learned to be amazed at the sight of a kite slicing through the air, the sound of a garbage truck rumbling by, the feel of a warm cup in my hand. I find that there are many things I’m experiencing again for the first time.

Lesson #3: Be proud of all of your accomplishments.

Whether it’s as simple as pushing a block through the correct hole in a plastic box, or as complicated as taking the first few wobbly steps, no achievement goes by without applause and arms flung overhead – “TA DA!” While it is probably not realistic to respond to every task I complete by cheering “Yay!” and clapping, once in a while I need to stop and appreciate the hard work I have put into something and simply be proud of myself.

Lesson #4: Love unconditionally.

Greet everyone with a smile and a wave. And most importantly, give lots and lots of snuggles.