I’ve learned endless lessons from being a mom, including things I never even realized I didn’t know! The journey of motherhood has provided me with knowledge that I can apply to all areas of my life. Sometimes, life’s biggest teachings are taught by the tiniest of people.

Lesson 5: Be a Behavior Role Model

Being a mom has had some surprising effects on me. One in particular is realizing that no matter what you say, it is more important what you do. When you have a mini-me constantly watching you and imitating you, it is imperative that you monitor your own behavior.

Motherhood has taught me to apologize very quickly when I make a mistake. I have also learned the things that I don’t like about myself are the things that my son will emulate. This is a tough one. I happen to be hard on myself and set very high expectations for myself, which can be unrealistic and not fair to me.  As my son has grown, I now see him doing the same.

This has taught me to make a very strong effort to be more forgiving and gentle to myself—but it is still a work in progress. The better I do at this, the more I see him lighten up on himself; this is the best motivation that I have! Seeing your flaws play out in front of you via your child is the best mirror you will ever find. This can work two ways: with behaviors that you don’t want emulated and ones that you find surprisingly fantastic. When your child does something so loving and thoughtful and you smile to yourself knowing that he has learned that from watching you— that can be a pretty amazing moment where everything seems beautiful.