My sweet boy has always been slightly precocious. As an introvert, there's only one thing (other than the annoyance of his older sister) that pulls his meek voice into the open — me. If I'm in distress (however minimal), he's the first to come rushing in to help. In my partner's embrace, he's also the one to break us apart. These small acts are further reminders of the ways my toddler taught me to stand up for myself, long before I actually knew how.
My son and I have always been close. I guess I could credit the long, grueling journey I went through in order to have him, which started with two miscarriages and ended with him and I nearly dying during birth. We're very similar, but he highlights the parts of me that still need work, including my inability to stand up for myself — something my baby boy often does for me.
When he comes to my defense I see the ferocity he's capable of, despite the inwardness he's typically drawn to. He shows me it's possible to stand up for yourself, even when the world feels too loud or scary or big. I mean, if he can stand up for me, and use his tiny voice so that it forces everyone to pay attention, why can't I stand up for myself? Here are some of the ways my toddler son teaches me, every day, that I can unapologetically advocate for myself. I have a voice and it matters.
By Using His Own Voice
All those times my toddler stepped in to stand up for me, or himself, my inaction was highlighted. I'm proud that he's confident enough to say something on my behalf (even if it makes him uncomfortable), but that should be my job.
By Asking Me Why I Didn't Say Anything
It's a sobering moment when your little one recognizes a wrongdoing on your behalf, especially when you were banking on them not paying attention. I'm doing an OK job as his mother if I'm helping him learn and understand when I should say something, especially if that something is an apology or righting a wrong. In my self-realization, I now see my silence is complicity. My kids are watching — it's time to take a stand
By Reminding Me How Strong I am
My kids are seriously my biggest fans. I don't know how they see the strengths in me, even when I'm at my weakest moments, but they do. There are so many days when I feel like I can barely handle my schedule, let alone take on the world. That's usually when my son makes his unwavering believe in me and my abilities known. lHe pushes me to speak up when I feel defeated, and that's just about as incredible as he is.
By Questioning Right & Wrong
If I do nothing else in life, I'm grateful I'm raising smart, compassionate, self-aware children. They know when something's right, and when it's wrong. The times a moment passes when I should stand up for myself, and my toddler comes to me and asks about it, I'm forced to really think about what I'm teaching them and how to better find, and utilize, my voice.
By Saying Nothing
Every now and then, I'm confronted with a chance to stand up for myself. I'll feel the pressure of my children watching, waiting, and hoping I will. These are the times they choose to stay silent, giving me the chance to use my voice. It may not seem like they'd be old enough or mature enough to realize these moments, but when they happen, it's magic.
By Watching An Event Unfold
My kids are good listeners (except when I tell them to do chores!) and will step back to overhear my conversation with someone who's overstepping. They may not say a word, but in their eyes I see what they need to witness from me. It's not always easy, but I want to make them proud, and in turn, I make myself proud, too.
By Demanding I Believe In The Mom He Already Sees
My kids' expectations of me, I think, are pretty low. They cheer when I make them breakfast or allow them a few extra minutes of television time, but I don't mind. They choose to believe I'm awesome at everything I do — even when I don't see it. My toddler has taught me a lot of things throughout his life, but finding my voice so I can stand up for myself was one of the best gifts I could've been given. He's always believed I could do it, and so, I will.
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