As parents, it’s our responsibility to teach our children right from wrong, up from down, left from right, true from false and the right way to put the toilet paper on the roll. Our children come to us as these perfect little humans, completely dependent on us for their care. We wash them, clothe them, feed them, change their diapers, wipe their face and hands, rescue them from sticking foreign objects in their mouth and the list goes on. We are rewarded with crying, fussing, being spit up on and peed on. Maybe even at the same time. It’s a tireless job and a thankless one. Our days seem to be on repeat.
One day, something changes and your little person does something new–cutting a tooth, smiling at you, reaching for a toy, giving you baby kisses (aka slobbering on you with their mouth open). Each new milestone is exciting and we tell everyone we meet about it. And then life resumes and we adjust our schedule or move the plant that used to be safe on the floor but isn’t now because your munchkin figured out how to crawl. But more than anything, your days seems to be on repeat.
Fast forward and your sweet baby is learning to talk. The first time we hear “mama” or “dada” we swear it is the most beautiful sound in the world and we’ll do anything it takes to get our kiddos to repeat it over and over again. Really embarrassing things. But it’s totally worth it to hear them say the word. Somehow, it’s validation for all the long nights and early mornings we’ve endured because it feels like they are recognizing us by calling us “mama” or “dada”. Every day is new, but many things remain the same, as if on repeat.
Soon enough, our children learn that words mean something and they can have an effect on the world around them by using those words. Words like “please” and “thank you” are part of their vocabulary due to constantly saying them each time you give them something or receive something in return, be it a flower, a rock or a half chewed grape. But the same cute voice that we used to beg to say “mama” also says “no!” and “mine!” much more often than we’d like. And we’re back to repeating ourselves that we need to be nice and not yell. Always repeating.
Another child enters the picture, be it a sibling, a cousin, a friend, a classmate or some random kid on the playground. We listen with our keen parenting ears for signs of discord. We ask ourselves if we’ve taught them right. To play nicely. To not push or yell or bite. To take turns. When they aren’t in our immediate care, the same questions roll through our minds. We do our best to be nearby to adjust the situation, to remind them of the rules, to please, please “find a way to play together”. (Thank you Daniel Tiger.) We feel as though we are talking all day long, but there’s not much variation on the words that come out of our mouths, as though we are on constant repeat.
Our days are long. Our nights are short. No one told us that raising a human being would require so much energy. So much self-control to not scream when your child has asked the same. blasted. question. for the fifth time in as many minutes. No one told us how sick and tired we would get of hearing the ABCs, no matter how many variations there are of it on Sesame Street. And no one told us that life as a stay-at-home mom would be so repetitive.
We are not perfect, you and I. We mess up sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. We yell at our kids more than we mean to or get frustrated when they don’t remember the answer to a question. But do you know what? We need the repetition as much as they do. We learn to become more patient, more kind, more grateful. Just like we are doing our best to teach our children, they are teaching us too. Our kids keep letting us try again to do better–to be better–day after day, week after week, month after month and yes, year after year. As hard and as frustrating as it is, repetition is how we learn. How we all learn. Through repetition.
So, yes. I am a broken record. And I’m grateful for it.