My toddler daughter Emma copies everything I do. She wants to eat what I eat and drink what I drink. She uses an adult fork instead of a baby one. Emma grabs my iPhone and holds it to hear ear while saying “hi” to whomever she imagines is on the other end of the line. She brushes her hair with my hairbrush, drinks from my water bottle and puts on my shoes. She repeats my words, using the same inflections that I have in my speech. Emma is my mini-me. She is learning to be a woman in this world by copying what that I do.
There is so much I want to teach her: how to be kind and brave, to follow her passions, to enjoy every moment, to love and live fully… the list is endless. I whisper these lessons into her little ears. “Share with the other kids,” I instruct her during mommy and me classes. “Be kind to others and yourself,” I tell her each night before bed. “Enjoy this moment,” I remind her on beautiful summer days spent at the beach. When we play peek-a-boo she laughs hysterically. “Always embrace the joy in simple things,” I say while laughing with her.
The truth is, she can take or leave my instructions – they are just words, but she sees everything that I do.
I want to teach her patience; “take your time,” I tell her as she slowly descends the stairs, with one of her small hands holding onto mine. I want her to understand the importance of fitness, so I take her out running in the stroller. I recently made a huge career change after ten years and I tell her about it, how happy it makes me to be following my passions. I want her to do the same. Self-care is a priority in my life and I hope that she will take care of herself when she is a mom. I practice kindness. I want her to see this. This is how I teach her to be kind. These are my lessons to her.
And of course, there is the greatest lesson she has taught me: if I want Emma to live her best life, I have to do the same.