What My Baby Teaches Me About Being Human

olive chan —  March 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

One of the best gifts of becoming a mother is that I have the privilege of watching the process of human development unfold before my eyes. As I’ve observed Allie, I’ve come to (re)learn some basic truths about what it means to be human. As an adult, I find it easy to lose sight of the fundamental qualities of my humanness so I’m grateful that my baby, in her unfiltered and uninhibited way, shows me and reminds me of these things.


We Are Created to Wonder
My daughter models to me what it’s like to live with curiosity and openness. The world is an enormous invitation to exploration and discovery. I forget how amazing the softness of grass feels or how fascinating a ladybug is, but Allie reminds me of these simple wonders. Last week it took us a whole hour to walk around the block because she kept wanting to stop and stare at the robins, crows and the neighbour fixing his car. She challenges me to be less hurried and remember that the people and environment that surround us are indeed interesting and that we can learn from them.

The Importance of Bodily Needs
Somewhere along the road of growing up, I began believing that productivity took precedence over caring for my body. I would work on an empty stomach or cut into sleep time in order to finish projects. Allie reminds me that the very basic fact of being human is that we are housed in bodies and everything else we do depends on whether we take care of those bodily needs. If she’s irritable, it’s usually because she’s hungry, tired, needs a diaper change or is in pain. If I don’t meet her physical needs first, she can’t play, learn or pay attention to anything.

Communication is Way More Than Words
Babies do not know how to talk, and yet they are able to communicate their needs quite effectively. My child teaches me that even though I know how to talk, a lot can still be communicated without words.

It’s Easier to Grasp Than to Let Go
Allie was born knowing how to grasp. If I put my finger by her hand, she would hold on with an iron grip. It was a reflex. Eventually, she learned to reach out and grab things. It wasn’t until many months later that she learned to let go of whatever she was holding without needing to grab onto the next thing. As an adult, I have not outgrown this tendency. I, too, grab onto things way more easily than I let go.

We Don’t Like Waiting
We are born without patience. We scream and cry until we get what we want. It’s a lifelong lesson to be okay with waiting. Whenever I get frustrated at myself for not being more patient, I look at my child and realize I’ve actually come a long way.

It’s In Our Nature to Name
At 15 months, Allie is starting to learn words. She gets such a thrill out of identifying things by name. It’s fascinating to me because the first task of the first human to walk the earth was to name all the animals. There is something significant about naming – it’s like saying, “I see you and I know what you are.” As an adult, naming is still an important task. I may not be identifying dogs and cats, but there’s definitely power in calling out my emotions, for example.

As my daughter enters into her toddler years, I am sure I will learn even more about human nature. And as she continues to grow, I look forward to all the lessons that are still in store.

PS. If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy our new book, “Then Came The Baby: The Wonder, Mayhem and Hilarity of Our First Year As Parents,” to be released on March 25, 2013 (one week from today)! You can read more about the book by clicking HERE.