Parenting can feel unrewarding at times, but sometimes, all we need is a reminder as to why it isn't. Just recently, I was rushing around getting my three kids ready for the school run. It was the first day back for my older girls and I was feeling really stressed. As I strapped my 3-year-old into the car, she said to me, "I love you." I immediately smiled. I looked her in the eyes and thought, "I may be so stressed right now, but I really love my kids!" It's touching moments like these that often remind us that there's so much more to parenting than just the tiring, stressful aspects of it.
Here are the 10 reminders of why parenting is rewarding:
1. You watch your children grow up
Being the mother of a 3, 5 and 7-year-old – I have watched my girls grow from little babies who always depended on me to independent children. I have seen the hairs on their heads lengthen, their bodies getting heavier and taller, and watched in awe as they reached developmental milestones. Knowing that this growing process will only continue brings a smile to my face.
2. You guide them through new experiences
I remember the first time my husband and I took our eldest daughter roller skating. We taught her how to balance, how to move, and just had fun with her along the way. She struggled at first, but after doing several laps of the rink, her confidence grew and she really enjoyed it. Remembering the enthusiasm in her face and her excitement at trying something new – makes me feel so happy knowing that I'm able to share those new moments with my children.
3. You share in their successes
My 5-year-old has never been particularly interested in reading or writing. She's a very active child – more easily entertained by monkey bars and slides. But this year, I've been making more of an effort to encourage her reading and writing. I've been taking her to the library more often and spending extra time writing with her. She now grabs books off the shelves at home and proudly reads them to me. Last month, she received a merit certificate for her wonderful improvement in writing. I felt so incredibly proud. Seeing her stand up on stage next to her classmates, her face beaming – reminded me that I helped her achieve that. That it was a celebration for both of us.
4. They make you laugh and smile
During the last school term, I was rushing the kids to their different schools. After the first drop-off, I was stressing out that my other daughter would be late. As I drove, Frozen's Let It Go was playing on our car stereo. My two youngest girls were completely immersed in the music and were singing at the top of their lungs. I looked into the rear-view mirror and couldn't stop laughing. It was only 8.30am in the morning and my kids had already put a massive smile on my face.
5. They give you hugs and kisses
A few months ago, our kids were in bed and I was telling my husband about the horrible day that I'd had. That's when I heard the sound of a door opening. Our 7-year-old daughter came out of her room and asked, "Are you okay, Mum? I heard you crying and I wanted to give you a hug." She then put her arms around me. Then I heard another voice. It was our 5-year-old daughter, "Are you okay, Mum? I want to give you a hug too!" I held on to my children tightly and was so grateful to have them in my arms. My kids may not be able to solve all my problems for me, but their hugs and kisses remind me that things will be okay.
6. They follow your example
When I see my kids put into practise what I've taught them, it reminds me that what I'm doing as a parent is worth it. When I see my kids say 'please' and 'thank you' without asking, I'm reminded that valuing manners is worthwhile. When I see them be kind and loving to others, I know my husband and I are setting a good example for them.
7. They make you feel loved and important
As repetitive as parenting can be at times, it's rewarding knowing that someone depends on you. That someone values and appreciates what you do for them. My eldest daughter often writes me notes that say, "Thank you for everything you do for me, Mum. I love you." Those notes remind me that what I'm doing as a parent matters.
8. They remind you what's really important in life
It's not easy juggling the responsibilities of being a parent, as well as other responsibilities like doing the housework and paying the bills. But when I'm in the middle of a task, I try my best to shift my focus to my children. It's not always easy, but I do the best I can. Seeing their faces light up when I say, "I'll do these dishes after I read you a book" reminds me that being there for your loved ones is sometimes more important.
9. They make you a better person
Before my kids, I had a horrendous diet, struggled with waking up on time and was far from organised. But I eat much healthier and do exercise now. I even visit the dentist regularly. I want to show my kids that I practise what I preach. I've also learned how to be more empathetic, patient, and how to love unconditionally. Every challenge I have ever faced as a mum has made me a better person for it.
10. They remind you that one person can make a big difference to someone's life
Becoming a mother has really changed my life. It's transformed my world, my way of thinking and my ability to love another person. And by loving my three children, I have seen the immense impact you can have on just one person's life. This reminds me why it's so important to be kind to each other, to support each other, to love each other. You never know how much your kindness could really change a person's life for the better.
Thuy Yau is a freelance writer and mother of three. She is passionate about personal development and psychology. You can follow Thuy on Twitter, join her on Facebook, or read her blog at Inside a Mother's Mind