My favorite things about parenthood (thus far):
- I love the moments where memories are being made for my kids. It is that moment when your kids walk into Disney’s Magic Kingdom and see the castle or Mickey for the first time. It is when your daughter learns to ride a bike after days of practice. It is that moment when your son realizes he can climb up the bounce house and slide down all by himself and wants to do it over and over again. It is when your child is upset because they feel bullied at school and you role-play how to handle this situation the next time. It is all those times (however few and far between they may be) where you sit down to dinner as a family and talk about the best part of your day. I believe you can feel these moments in a visceral way. It is as if I can see and feel the snapshot or memory being made in all of these instances. These moments often bring me to tears because I am so full of joy, love, and gratitude. These are the moments where I truly think there is no greater gift than being a parent.
- I love the comedy. I have laughed (and cried) more as a parent than I ever did before kids. Sometimes I have even found myself laughing through the frustrating, challenging, and messy moments of parenthood – laughter can be a very healthy and necessary coping mechanism. Kids say and do some pretty funny things. My kids literally make me laugh every single day – intentionally or most often unintentionally. I love the way my kids talk, their questions (even if they can sometimes get a little repetitive), and observations on the world. I wish I wrote more of these funny things down because I have forgotten as they get older. One of my favorite things to do at the end of the day is sit down with Les and share funny stories or things that the kids said or did during the day. The rest of the world may not be as amused, but they always make us smile and giggle.
- I love to watch them learn and find their way in the world. It really does seem like they grow up so fast. Isabella recently learned to read and it was a truly remarkable thing to watch. I mean one day she was my cute little toddler that knew her alphabet and a few sight words, and now she is reading to me and writing stories at school. How did that happen? I can’t even really say that we “taught” her how to read. I mean we read to her every night and we had her practice sounding out words and trying to read sentences and she just got it. It seems like she learns so much every week – from school, from us, from her friends, and just her surroundings. Kids really are like sponges, and I love watching each of mine soak up the world around them.
- Parenthood makes me want to be a better person. I have always been pretty self-motivated and tried to lead a good life, but now there are three little people watching my every move and counting on me. That can be a lot of pressure, but also a moral compass like none other. I am always thinking about the example I am setting for my kids. For instance, I am a screamer. I yell at my kids way more than I would like to. I know that when I get frustrated, am trying to juggle too many things, or am in a hurry – I tend to yell louder and more often than I should. I don’t want them to think of me as a mom that is always raising her voice or losing her cool. I want to set an example for how to remain calm and graceful under pressure. I want to show them how to manage those frustrated and angry feelings in a constructive way. I will not be perfect. I would never want to put that kind of pressure on my kids anyway, since no one can be perfect. I want them to see that I try to do the right thing and the kind thing as often as I can. I want to show them how to handle mistakes when they inevitably happen. I want to show them how to live their best life and be the best person that they can be. In doing this, I am trying to do the best that I can and live the best life possible for myself and for my family.
- Parenthood has brought me closer to my family. I appreciate my parents so much more now that I am a parent. I understand them and can relate to them on this entirely new level. I can finally appreciate the sacrifices that they made for our family growing up. If I ever blamed them for anything, I have long forgiven and forgotten those things as I have come to understand that they did the best they could with what they had (time, money, energy, patience, etc.). Watching my parents as grandparents is one of the most unexpected joys I have experienced since becoming a parent. My parents give their time and their love so freely, and I am immensely appreciative of all they do for my kids and our family. I appreciate my mother-in-law and father-in-law on an entirely new level too. I already knew that they were wonderful grandparents because I had seen them in action with my nieces, but it is still so special to see the way my kids light up when they get to spend time with Grammy and Pop. I feel lucky to have three wonderful sisters, an amazing sister-in-law, and an awesome brother-in-law that are the best Aunts and Uncle my kids could possibly ask for. I have three beautiful nieces and an adorable nephew who will be their forever friends and playmates on the road of life. I value family so much and am so thankful that parenthood has allowed me to appreciate my family on another level.
- We are in this together. No matter what happens, no matter what kind of crap comes our way in life, we will face it together. We have each other’s back. We are not alone. There is great comfort in this knowledge. There is a love and a connection that will forever bind us together because we are family. I am yours and you are mine. I took my vows seriously when I got married over 10 years ago, but that sense of forever means more now that we are not just Les and Jess. We are Les, Jess, Isabella, Jacob, and Noah – Levin party of five. I know that nothing in life is 100% certain, but there is certainty in family – that we are connected to someone else, that we are part of something bigger than just ourselves, that there is a love there that is binding and forever.