Monday, February 6, 2012


I’m a person who lives for advice. This is probably because I am smart enough to admit I don't know a hell of a lot. I’m the youngest child in my family so I have always gotten to watch others go first. I think this has shaped my persona as I always watch and learn from others.

But I learned this past month that the best lessons in life come from unexpected sources. I am finding out that you don't have to literally be able to look up to someone, to look up to them. In fact, the three biggest role models, mentors, truth-tellers in my life are very small in comparison to their wisdom...

Here's a few lessons I have learned this past month from my favorite professors in life: my children J, H, and L.

Lesson #1: NEVER Give Up

Lesson #1 comes from my oldest, J. Now so far in her life, J has had things relatively easy. Not to sound like a “bumper sticker (my kid is the best)” Mom, but normally things come pretty easy to J. However, this easy lifestyle and her Diva personality created a bad habit when she was 4. She refused to try when she was faced with something she couldn't do.   A sort of …okay I’m not the best at that so it must not be worth doing diva-ish attitude.

But this attitude did not last long at all, for when J turned 5 she completely changed. Suddenly she refused to give up. When she was faced with something she couldn’t do but others around her could, she became insistent and passionate about beating that challenge. Now some challenges were easy for J to overcome, such as bike riding, swimming, and cartwheels. A bit of practice and she was on target. But then there was the…(cue dark music here) MONKEY BARS. The monkey bars was something J could NEVER do. Every trip to the park J would try (with me holding tight on to her legs) but always failed. School was like salt to the wound  as her school's playground has enough monkey bars to keep a large zoo of monkeys busy for hours.  But no matter how hard she tried, or how often she tried, she couldn’t do it. So yesterday we took advantage of this odd February weather and headed for an afternoon at the park. As we played I noticed J sitting with her brother watching a young girl do the monkey bars. The girl reminded J of this challenge she had shelved for the winter. I watched her head over to the bars, a determined look on her face. She tried time and time again but kept falling.  On what seemed like the 1 millionth time suddenly her inner monkey let loose. She did it! I probably looked like a fool in the park as I screamed louder than a Mom whose kid won Olympic gold. But I was so proud of her that she conquered this...her hardest challenge.

 I get overwhelmed in my life, I am pulled 1000 different directions and I sometimes wonder if I can do it. Many challenges in my life are like those damn Monkey bars…and no matter how bad I want to conquer them or how hard I try, it seems like I can never get there. But J reminded me to just keep trying…I’ll get it, as long as I never give up.

Lesson #2 It’s Okay to be a Little Fish in a Big Pond

My second lesson this month came from H. Now H has a November birthday and so he is usually the oldest in all activities he does. When he finally could play three year old summer soccer, he was nearly 4. This of course means that usually he is the big fish, older than the crowd.

But that changed this winter. H is in preschool and so when the Y put out their winter sports schedule, I saw the preschool basketball offering and thought H would love it. So when we walked into basketball on the first day I was slammed with a reality check…I had forgotten that H has two years of preschool and so all the kids on H’s team were obviously on their 2nd year. To use a basketball analogy he was the Spud Webb on a team of Shaqs.

When practice started, all of these 5 year olds were able to shoot the basketball with ease. But Mr. 4 year old H, could not come close. I remember watching him that first day thinking that he looked like a toddler compared to the boys. I silently cursed myself thinking “Great, he’s the only one that can’t make a basket, so now he’ll hate it and give up on it”. But not my H. Over the weekends I have watched my little fish swim proudly right along the big fish. He doesn't seem to care, or even notice, his little fish position.

I must admit I feel like H a lot, as most of the time when I head into court I am the small fish in the sea. It always seems like I am up against more experienced attorneys. Attorneys who know more, bill more, are more seasoned. But H has taught me its okay for the little fish to swim with those big fish. I may have to work harder but I can still go fin to fin with the best of them.  

Lesson #3 – Go your own way….proudly.

And then there is the lesson I have learned the most from this month and shockingly it comes from the youngest member of my family.

At just 20 months old, L is teaching me volumes each day. I blogged about this before but a couple months ago L’s teachers came to me stating they were concerned because he wasn’t talking a lot. He wasn’t doing what the other kids were doing, and most importantly (to them) he wasn’t doing what his brother and sister did at that age. For months we had to hear “Oh he doesn’t like to color as much as H” or “He’s so quiet, J loved to talk”. Poor guy even gets “Wow, he looks nothing like his brother” comments from random strangers. It was like people thought something was wrong with L simply because he was different.

But alas, my baby has had the last laugh in that suddenly he has blossomed and surprised everyone in the process. L talks all the time now and has amazed his teachers. He has taught me that everyone is different and that’s not a bad thing. It’s okay to go your own way and make your own path. L went from hardly talking to doing his ABC’s and numbers all in about a span of one month. I sometimes secretly wish I could teach him to say “That’s right!” to people when I see him doing things that his siblings never were able to do at that age.

In legal world, I’m a lot like L. I don’t fit in with the typical attorney mold. I’m just not like a lot of attorneys I know. I sometimes get down on myself for this. But L’s lesson has taught me that it’s okay to fight comparisons. I can simply be me.

Wow if they are teaching me this much so far, who knows what the future holds! But I'm so grateful for every day and every lesson.


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