My first-born child will exit the teenage years on Monday. I’m not one of those moms that laments the early years of childhood. Turns out I enjoy the teenage years a lot more. As I think back over our 20 years together, I realize how much this kid continues to amaze me and teach me. He’s also enough like me that he can get on my last nerve, too. Let’s be honest. But I appreciate how he walks through life. So today, to celebrate his birthday, I’d like to share some highlights with you.
“My-SELF” was one of the first words Sam claimed as his own. He said it when I tried to help him do anything he wanted to do himself as a young toddler. He says it now when I start to interfere too much. He’s clear about boundaries with everyone in his life, which I find to be rare. But he enforces them with gentleness and confidence. His ability to do this comes from being so comfortable with his boundaries that he can remain calm.
Profound empathy has been one of Sam’s most noticeable traits since he was a toddler. Gently helping other kids share. Asking his kindergarten teacher if she needed an extra hug when he could tell she was struggling as a new mom just back from maternity leave. Being one of the only people who could help his young reading buddy calm down when Sam was in fifth grade. As he’s grown up, these examples have only become more common. He can change a person’s mood and mindset by exercising empathy.
An unfailing sense of humor is the other most noticeable trait Sam has. He has a generally happy-go-lucky approach to life. He’s quick to laugh at himself, and quick to help others do the same. He’s been through some tough situations that have brought him down for a period of time. But he’s always come back around to his lighthearted nature.
How does this apply to you?
Sam inspires me. He always makes me smile. And reflecting on him reminds me that we learn so much from those around us. Are you paying attention to the lessons those around you can teach you? Are you noticing what you admire about others and trying to put those same things into practice? Or are we moving too fast, being too busy to ‘make time’ for that?
It doesn’t require more time to notice these things. It requires intentionality. In your next meeting, look around and think about how the people around you are modeling something you’d like to do more of yourself. Look for inspiration. You’ll find it.