We all remember the days of our parents spelling words out, an effort meant to throw us off their adult conversation and prevent us from running around using choice four letter words or worse dodge embarrassment from the little one repeating the gossip they were just cackling about.
Now that my daughter is one, people have been giving me the forewarning that soon she will repeat everything I say so choose my words wisely.
It wasn't until the other afternoon while blasting Beyoncé while I cleaned up the living room that it dawned on me to wonder: while I am watching my words so closely, had I left my actions less attended to.
While I was in my own world dancing and singing to Beyoncé, I turned to find my one-year-old transfixed on me, trying to imitate my moves, down to the raised arm and finger snap (though she just rubs her fingers together and makes the noise with her mouth).
My first reaction was to laugh at the sight of her grooving right along with me, and then embarrassed to have been watched. But then again, she is always watching-- more intently watched than any other person would ever watch me.
I've always heard the saying, "Mothers don't have an instruction manual to show them how to raise their children." But we literally become the walking, talking 'how-to-guide' for our children. So much of our pre-mom lives are lived so free, unconscious, and fearless of judgments of others.
It is easy to say, "I was just having a good time." However when baby girl is watching, it becomes how does she perceive that? A simply enough question to answer, if mommy is doing it, I will do it.
A tougher question to answer would be, "How will this manifest in her life?" This goes for anything I introduce into her life. Now I must live my life as if it were her living it.
We all want to be good examples for our children, however we can never be turn off that task or allow exceptions to the rules. I am learning that it is not just the big lessons we are preparing them for. There are also the unbridled moments of carefree inhibitions that must be accounted for.
There is no way to interchange your actions for a spelled out word. Actions are embedded in our brains with the speed of light and not too easily forgotten.
Our children are our greatest admirers; I just want to give her something worth imitating.