7 Lessons My Family Has Already Taught Me This Year

The new year has barely begun, and in my quest to "do everything better", I have found inspiration in the most unlikely of places - the very people for whom I want to be better. 

My family.

Over the years, they have taught me many lessons -  the most important being that no matter how genetically predisposed they might be to sinking a putt, dunking a basketball, hitting a home run, or putting a ball or a puck into a net, they still can not hit a laundry basket or a toilet that is a foot in front of them. And the ability to replace a roll of toilet paper is clearly not in their genetic code at all.

That said, they have surprised me lately in my weakest moments; and instead of being the teacher, I have become the learner.

1. Faith. The boys and I were sitting at mass on the morning of New Year's Eve. Joey was the intention of mass (if you are Catholic you understand this). I was feeling pretty sad since it was his birthday. As if he was reading my mind just then, Slim (who's birthday it also was) reached over and squeezed my knee, "Don't be sad, Mom. Joey is still with us. He always will be." It was just what I needed to hear right then. Sometimes I think my nine-year-old has more faith than I do.

2. Patience. In addition to being a terrible sleeper, my toddler is bound and determined to do everything himself! When I'm rushing around, late as usual, I have no tolerance for this. I quickly grab him as he goes all limp and throws a terrible two-style fit. "Oh, Mom," my seven-year-old says smiling, "he just wants to be like us. Here, I'll show him how." He then proceeds to help Baby E with whatever task he's trying to do all by himself, and the big brother adoration begins.

3. Courage. Change is hard - and scary! It takes a lot of guts to change old habits and try to learn new ones (I said, as I shove cookies in my face). My five-year-old has been going to "food school" to learn how to try new foods. When he first started going, he would begin to cry as soon as we walked in the door. He would kick his legs and gag and not look at the therapists. I don't blame him. If someone was going to shove a bite of unknown food at my mouth, I would probably push it away and protest loudly. Instead, every week, the crying gets less and the bites get bigger and he talks to the therapists more and more. I cannot believe the progress he's made in such a short time. I'm inspired by his bravery.

4. Forgiveness. As toilet and laundry challenged as the male species can be, I will say one thing for their ability to forgive and forget - it's amazing! I don't know many grown women {hand raised} that have the ability or willingness to do that. I can fail my family over and over by yelling or slacking at my "mom duties," and they shrug it off like it's no big deal. Because to them, it isn't. They don't get worked up about much. That is the bonus of living with all males.

5. Compromise. Hubby has always been so good at this. Maybe it's called a partnership, or maybe it's just how he rolls, but there is no clear division of labor in this house. We both fill all roles. He cooks, he cleans, he bathes children, he helps with homework. He does it all because he knows if he needs a break, I will give it to him, and vice versa.

6. Negotiation. This isn't always a bad thing. I see the boys start to get upset that their baby brother has one of their possessions. Ready to intervene when things get ugly, I'll often be stopped in my tracks as the older brother gives the baby brother another toy and gently removes his precious possession from baby's hands. It's slick. So slick, in fact, that I've often gotten caught in it. "Mommy, if I help you clean the kitchen, you'll have time to read me an extra story tonight, right?" Even NATO can't deny the power of that persuasion.

7. Unconditional love. We're a flawed family. We yell, we throw tantrums, we pout - we're so far from perfect. But at the end of the day, I see hugs all around. I hear boys sharing toys, including each other, setting aside something for someone because 'it's his favorite.' It's like they know that life can change in an instant, and we're all in it together.

I can't help but hope that they came by these qualities honestly, and that maybe they had a good role model along the way somewhere.
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