Parenting

How My Children have Taught Me to Be a Better Person

Sometimes I think about how much easier my life would probably be if I didn’t have half the challenges I experience in my day to day life. I fondly remember the days when I could just take off and go wherever I wanted to without a second thought. Or, the days when I didn’t have to consider my children and their needs in virtually every single aspect of my own life; from dating, to sleep, to work, to school.

But then I think I would be absolutely bored out of my mind, and a part of me would feel very empty.

The truth is, for as chaotic as my life is, I appreciate my children for everything that they have done for me. I’m telling you, I’d be a complete mess if it weren’t for my children. These are some of the ways that my children have made me a better person:

My children force me to create and follow routines.

As much as I hate to admit it, having some type of routine really does make a day/week/month/year go better. When you have kids with autism, disorganization is not an option. Of course, I am constantly working on that one…but you know, I’m trying.

My children give me a reason to watch Scooby Doo.

When I was a kid, Scooby Doo was always on when I was still at school, and I hated it, because I absolutely loved that show. By the time my own children were old enough, Scooby and gang were on VHS/DVD. Now we have an entire collection of Scooby movies on Amazon Instant Video., and can watch whenever we want to. Sometimes I am bummed when H doesn’t want to watch a Scooby Movie.

My children gave me a reason to go back to school after the divorce.

When I first re-enrolled in college, one of my sons was concerned about me going to college and what it would mean for my free time with them. Then my daughter reminded them. “Mom is doing this for us, so we can have a bigger house, and a better life.”  It would have been far easier to stay at my dead end job and live my life barely surviving, and I am certain that without them, I would have probably stayed on the same dead end path.

My children taught me to appreciate the little things in life.

H’s favorite thing to do is go down the road to the convenience store. for what I call our “weekly junk food run.”  We buy two Tabasco flavored slim jims, a small bottle of chocolate milk, a spicy chicken sandwich, and a Pepsi from the soda fountain. He is always excited, and every time we go I think to myself “He looks so happy,” and all because he was at the store buying his spicy chicken sandwich. Wouldn’t it be great if every little thing in life brought us all as much joy? Well, maybe I can be like that, too.

My children forced me to break out of my shell.

I am admit I am somewhat socially awkward person. But I have had to jump out of my comfort zone considerably since I’ve had my children. I have actually had some pretty interesting encounters with complete strangers, even, because of them. I admit that some of them have not been positive experiences. Most of the time, though, I find that people are really not as scary that I sometimes perceive them to be.

My children helped me learn that everyone deserves to be treated right.

My children have all been the victim of bullying at some points in their lives, and just thinking about it breaks my heart. Of course I didn’t let those incidents slide, why would I? But then one day I realized I had been allowing myself to be bullied, as if that was something I thought I deserved. Well, no one should be bullied, not even us adults. How can you tell a child that bullying is wrong, when they see you being bullied without consequence from the other person? My children are the main reason why I left a toxic marriage. They deserved to see me being treated well, too.

My children have given me an undeniable strength to learn how to advocate.

When you have children who are particularly vulnerable, you quickly learn how to be a “mama bear” and learn how to advocate for them. I’ve had many experiences throughout my career as a mother, that have forced me to stick up for my children in some way, whether it be with complete strangers in public, with school, or with family members. That in turn has given me, at least, the reminder I’ve needed that I also need to advocate for myself.

But most importantly, my children have taught me how to love unconditionally.

Because that is how I know they love me. My children love me in spite of the fact that I made them clean the bathroom yesterday. They even love me even when I tell them something that they didn’t want to hear. It’s as if it is instinctual in a sense, and something that is hard for them not to do. They love me just because they love me; and not based off of some conditional merit such as my parenting skills. It’s something I will never take for granted.

So yes, my life would be far less chaotic if I didn’t have my kids. But it would also be far less interesting. I think I’ll take the challenges any day over the alternative.