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My son, My teacher

 Written by Aisha Moffett


Parenting is like a roller coaster. It takes me to my highest highs and then it drops me into the most exhilarating ride of my life. Sometimes parenting is full of thrills and joy and sometimes it makes me want to cry. Parenting is a rollercoaster. It goes so fast that by the time I look up its over. When I get off a roller coaster, I have felt so many emotions and learned so much about myself through every twist, turn, and drop. Similar to riding a rollercoaster, it’s the exhilarating teachable moments of parenting that I think has been the most enlightening part of being a mom. My son, Khalil Xavier Moffett is nine years old. He has been one of the most influential teachers in my life. I’ve learned so much from him and I want to highlight the three main areas where he has taught me about myself, about the world, and about parenting.

My son has taught me so much about myself. First, I didn’t know how much I could truly love another human being and what I would do to ensure their happiness and security until I was a parent. That alone has been a valuable lesson in and of itself. Also, I’ve learned what true grace and forgiveness is supposed to look like as I get to love my child through all of his stages from baby diapers, spit ups, the terrible twos, broken objects around the house, repeating instructions, temper tantrums, sleepless nights to the ever present battle to do homework. The list is long and even with the common challenges that parents face raising kids, each of our children have unique personalities that ultimately shape our unique parenting styles.


I also learn a lot about myself because my son is a mirror for my husband and me. He mimics so many things we say and do. We have shaped him, and he is continually watching us so we can see ourselves in him. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s embarrassing. Yet, it’s always eye-opening. We realize the things we say repeatedly and how we say them, and we correct ourselves as we understand better how they impact Khalil. We reflect on our temperament. We assess our strategies. We try to live our values. We establish fun family customs and traditions to create a home where he can thrive and feel supported. We also discover our personal and collective style of parenting by listening to Khalil and observing what he responds to favorably or unfavorably. Simply put, I never knew that a younger person would teach me more about myself than I could ever learn on my own.


There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing the world through my son’s eyes. It's one of the most honest and pure views I’ve ever had the privilege to observe. Children have no filter and what they see they say. It makes us as adults laugh out loud (and sometimes cringe) because they have the ability to express things that we would keep quiet about. So many times, I find myself prepping my son to tell me something first before he says things out loud because his assessment of what he sees can be unfiltered (and honest) but it might also have unintended consequences.


Another aspect I enjoy is when he experiences a new phenomenon for the first time. The awe and wonder of it all are a joy to share with him. He will describe something so simple yet so accurately. The first time he saw an elephant he said, “Look Mommy, it’s big with wrinkles and it has a long nose.” Then he asked, “Why do they stink?” All accurate observations and definitely straight to the point. Because he sees the world through an innocent yet blunt filter, he has made me take notice, appreciates, and understand life and its complexities much better. When he asks questions, it sparks my curiosity and if I don’t know the answer, I find it for him or better, yet we find it together.


My son has taught me the debilitating power of fear because as a mother I want to protect him at all costs. Quick story - he was hesitant to ride a roller coaster but when he finally did he taught me that facing our fears may take time but when we do, it’s powerful. Seeing how he faces life’s situations has brought me so much understanding and clarity about the world. He has taught me the importance of being courageous because when he is brave, I realize that I can also be brave and face challenges in my life.


He has taught me the value of forgiveness and how to apologize. Because of the importance of healing and reconciliation, I try to model both practices with him. I have learned how to fail forward with him because we both have realized that everyone makes mistakes, but we must turn them into opportunities to learn. For example, my son knows so much more about technology than me and he will say, “Mommy, let me show you” when I can’t navigate a new app on my phone or figure out a glitch with the cable box. He takes pride in teaching me something new and I take pride in being his pupil.


He has shown me what resilience looks like by moving to a new country and making friends, trying new foods, and learning how to speak and read a new language. He has taught me about boundaries when he has politely asked people not to touch his unique hair or saying no when he does not feel comfortable in a situation. He knows what he wants and what he doesn’t want, and it empowers me to be just as adamant about my desires and dislikes.


Finally, he has taught me how to parent him. I learned from a friend (who is an amazing mom) to check in at times and ask him how can I be a better parent. Those conversations are always eye-opening because of the raw honesty my son brings to the dialogue. He tells me things he wishes I would do more and less. At times when I have been upset with him he will say, “Mommy you are not listening to me.” This is always a reminder to pause and hear his perspective. In some instances, we agree and in some instances, we agree to disagree. Sometimes he will repeat my words to me starting with, “You said…” or he will remind me of my actions, starting with “You always…” and most of the time he’s right. It reminds me that he's always watching, listening, and taking notes even when I don’t think that he’s observing my actions.


It’s definitely a curious world we live in as parents. We’re raising kids that will one day be global citizens and we’re always answering questions and guiding them to hopefully be amazing human beings. However, we must realize that while we’re teaching them, we must also learn from them. Parents need to slow the parenting rollercoaster down and cherish the opportunity to bond with our kids through shared experiences. All things considered, I welcome every lesson learned from my gift and biggest blessing, Khalil. He’s made me a better student of life and for that I’m forever grateful to be his mom.




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