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Perspective: Lessons From My Four-Year-Old

Jodi Ritter

Two years ago, I wrote about things my then-two-year old taught me. And now, after a life-changing year and a half or so, I come back to those lessons.

The first thing my four-year-old teaches me is a whole new level of mindfulness. Working from home while taking care of him has greatly deepened this practice for me. I am often reminded that the best gift I can give him is my moments, even in the midst of the noise in my mind, when everything feels heavy and hurried, and it’s hard to do.

Next is the importance of feeling seen and known. Mirroring his reactions back to him throws him into fits of laughter and delight. Countless times each day I hear, “Mom, watch!” as he shows me something he’s done. It’s a beautiful thing to feel seen and known by those whom we love.

Also, he reminds me to feel my feelings and embrace my reality. At four, my son has big feelings. He’s known for his blissful chocolate-eating expression, and for running in total freedom whenever he sets foot on a wide-open space. Conversely, he will also drop to the floor in tears at a moment’s notice. He may need to learn about managing his reactions, but he sure knows how to feel his feelings.

So, here’s a reminder about the power of mindfulness, feeling seen, and feeling our feelings. Therapist Vienna Pharaon said it well- “we are forever a student to ourselves and one another”.

Life is meant to be lived rather than just going through the motions or knocking out that to-do list. Each day is a fresh new start.

I’m Jodi Ritter, and this is my grateful perspective.

Jodi Ritter is Program Assistant for a Master's program at a local university. She is a Rockford native and an avid NPR listener who graduated from NIU with a Master of Public Health in 2016.