1) Don’t hold grudges
I must confess that I let my daughter fall off the bed when she was a baby. We’d fallen asleep shortly after I nursed her; I awoke to a loud thud followed by Chloe’s howls as she rolled on the floor. Thankfully, her injuries weren’t severe, though she did have a goose egg on her head I still feel horribly guilty about. Chloe took just 10 minutes to get over her spill before returning to her usual smiling self.
If someone allowed me to fall from a height, I’d definitely be grumpy. In fact, I’d remind the other person the next time we had an argument, saying, “Remember that time you dropped me on my head?”
2) True love is unconditional
When I was still dating, I used to keep score of who gave more, initiated more and loved more. It may have been my way of protecting myself from getting the short end of the stick.
But kids love freely. They don’t withhold affection. If Chloe wants a hug, she climbs on my lap, kisses me and holds my hand without ever wondering, “Am I too needy?” She makes me realise it’s not at all complicated.
3) Creativity rules
To Chloe, everything is a toy. When I give her a cardboard box, she transforms it into a house, ticketing booth, theatre for her stuffed animals, and a myriad other things. A paper bag isn’t just a paper bag, it’s a brief case. “I’m going to work, Mummy!” she tells me before toddling around our house with her “brief case”, so that she can “make money to buy milk”.
4) Don’t count calories, listen to your body
One of my biggest goals after I gave birth was to lose the baby weight. I put a lot of pressure on myself and hated every minute that I had to diet. Then I looked at Chloe. She has never cared about calories or carbs — she doesn’t even know what they are. She enjoys all sorts of food with infectious cheer —and when she wants more, she simply asks for it.
I try to offer healthy options like whole grains, lots of fruit, as well as organic fare when we can swing it, and water in place of sugary drinks. But we love giving her an ice-cream treat once in a while. And when it’s her birthday, she gets a second slice of cake if she wants one (she always does). It’s good to be healthy, but it’s okay to treat ourselves sometimes.
5) Express yourself
Whenever Chloe spots a full-length mirror, she’ll sing and dance in front of it, even if it’s in the middle of a crowded store. When she sees her grandparents at the airport, she runs as fast as her little legs will carry her, squealing all the way before leaping into their arms. Her joy cannot be contained.
I may have been like Chloe when I was kid, but I’ve learned to mask my feelings because displaying too many emotions makes me feel vulnerable. I’m afraid of being judged. Chloe encourages me to express myself without fear.
6) Live in the moment
I have endless worries and tasks to tend to. I have bills to pay, to-do lists that are perpetually half-completed and a gazillion other chores on my plate, on top of being a parent. When Chloe spots a rainbow, all she cares about is living in that moment. When I see a rainbow, I’ll be marvelling at the colours, but also wondering why the air-con servicing guys haven’t returned my call.
Chloe teaches me to enjoy the present — and shows me how to soak in all I can from the spectacular moment.
Freelance writer Jenny Tai, 27, is mum to Alexa, 9 months, and Chloe, 4.