My oldest son, Pharoah, is 11 years old and he is slowly becoming a young man in a blink of an eye. A few days ago I stood up next to him and he is almost as tall as myself (mind you I am only 5’2”, but still). I remember the day he was born and how tiny he was. I was so scared to hold him because I was a young mom at 24 years old and was so intimidated by motherhood. I come from a traditional Khmer family and I was in an interracial relationship and was an unwed mom. This is looked down upon and I was so afraid to tell my parents. I am pretty sure my mother was aware of the changes that were going on with my body, but I didn’t break the news to her until I was 7 months pregnant. I was forced to tell my mom by my sisters. They held me hostage and did not allow me to leave until I shared my pregnancy with my mom. I was so embarrassed and nervous. I felt like I let my whole family down. I never had a chance to enjoy my first pregnancy. Deep down inside I felt so blessed with my son. He was my everything even before his arrival. Every time he moved around inside of me I felt so amazed. It was definitely an incredible feeling I can’t find words to explain. I just wanted to give him everything I never had, provide him an experience I never got a chance to, and protect him from all the crazies in the world.
The lessons my son has taught me:
As a young mom, trying to figure out life on my own I felt depressed and alone. I felt like no matter what I did, I just could not get it right, but every time I looked at my son he reminded me that failure was not an option. He gave me strength that I didn’t know existed and he pushed me to my greatest limits. I learned that having resilience meant being able to be flexible, learning to cope with hard times, and never giving up.
Live in the present moment and don’t forget to smile
I was so obsessed with what I needed to do to please others and win over their acceptance that I often forgot about myself and taking care of “me.” My son reminded me to live in the present. I wanted to be there at every stage of his life. I took thousands of pictures to remind me of his “first time” for everything. The day he crawled, the day he walked, the day he ate, his first birthday, his first day of school, his first plane ride, his first time on a bike, etc. I tried to capture every moment so I will never forget it. Now I realize, in those moments instead of trying to capture the best photoshoot I needed to be “present” and smile. Enjoy it and have fun.
Lead by example
As I mentioned in my previous post, there’s no handbook on how to be the best parent, but you definitely have to lead by example. You can’t tell your kids not to lie and turn around and tell one. You can’t tell your kids to have compassion when you turn around and say awful things. We are all not perfect nor will we ever be, but we should attempt to be a better person in every way in our life. We need to show our kids how to love, to dream, to work hard, to be kind, to listen, to share, to never give up, to try, to not be afraid to fail and to be happy. To be successful with these things, we have to show them how. Sometimes, it may take us a lifetime to teach them everything we want and this is why it’s so important to just be patient. Growth is slow.