When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

–Buddhist proverb

As a mom, I am always on the lookout for teachable moments. I’m sure my kids will moan and groan in their teenage years about how “everything with Mom has to be a ‘thing’” but I can’t help myself; I’m a processor and I like to think that helping my kids think through everyday events will fortify them with valuable life lessons.

Over the years, I do believe I have taught my children some great lessons about such things as the importance of kindness, our responsibility to protect the Earth, and the power of love. What is more profound, however, are the lessons my children have taught me. Far beyond anything I have learned in high school, college, graduate school, or any of my experiences in between, my children have taught me lessons about how to really live:

Notice Everything

I love to go on walks with my family. We walk in our neighborhood, at local parks, and along a path nestled between an old shipping canal and a lake. When I think about a walk, my mind usually goes right to my destination; where does the path lead and where does it end?

Some of the finest lessons my teacher-children have taught me is to put aside the destination, and focus on the journey. My kids have taken my black and white world and splashed so much color into it, that it’s like I’m seeing with new eyes. Furry animals, colorful flowers, teeny bugs, pretty leaves, you name it, my kids see it (and pick it up, and name it, and want to keep it.) They remind me to slow down and notice the world, rather than just walk right through it. I love that about them!

Listen Quietly

I am a licensed clinical therapist, professionally trained to help people with their problems. What I never mastered in school or in practice, but have learned by being a student of my own children, is to listen. Because of my children, I finally realize that it is better, more selfless, and ever so much more helpful to put a lid on my own speech, and just purely listen to others. I wish I had always known that. What a gift to give—allowing others to feel heard and understood.

Savor Moments

If I had to sum it all up, these would be the two words I’d use. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am “efficient.” I multi-task with the best of ‘em and manage to accomplish an awful lot in a day. (In other words, I am a Mom.)

What my children have taught me is that it is better to be a human being than a human doing. When we walk together or spend an extra 20 minutes before bed laughing and playing, we enjoy our finest moments. My lists, errands, tasks, and must-do’s will always be there, but my children are only young once—and for too short a time.

Kids can be our greatest teachers. When I am ready, mine are always there to show me what I really need to know.