How Becoming A Mother Taught Me Kindness

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Image via Nicki Brunner

There are so many things that happen when you become a mother. Your sleep schedule becomes … disrupted; eating at the sink becomes … normal; and changing a diaper becomes … hourly. Seemingly overnight, you learn how to feed one child while reading to another; to pass a ball to one and hear about another's day; and to hold a baby on your hip, have a toddler attached to your leg, and still manage a buffet line — perhaps with a drink in hand!

Motherhood does indeed teach us about multi-tasking and hard work, but it also softens our edges, warms our souls, and makes us kinder. To celebrate the release of my book Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online, ten mothers share what becoming a mother taught them about kindness. While each woman's motherhood experience has been different, I saw in each one what I know to be true: when it comes to kindness, we really are more alike than we are different. See how that is with these ten mothers.

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Image via Nicki Brunner

Nicki Brunner is an active and adventurous mother of two who loves getting out and discovering new ways to involve her children in the beauty of everyday life, especially in the Twin Cities. She writes MinneMama Adventures, a blog focused on discovering everyday excursions for Twin Cities parents and their minis.

About what motherhood has taught her about kindness, she says, “When I became a mother, the world became less about me and entirely about someone else. I quickly learned that I could, would, and should do anything to make the world a gentler, kinder, more open-minded place for my children. And what better place to start modeling how you want the world to be than within yourself?

“If I want people to be kind to my child — if I want my child to be kind to others — it's my job to be the shiniest example of kindness for them to see. I can't change the bad, the evil, and the ugly, but I can smile at strangers, donate time and money where needed, pay forward the good, and release the bad with tact, patience, empathy, and compassion.”

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Image via Lisa Sadikman

Lisa Sadikman is a writer living in Northern California with her husband and three daughters, the third one arriving somewhat late in the game — just as she began dreaming of life beyond motherhood. You can read about her adventures of parenting tweens and a preschooler, managing marriage, and living a grown up life on her blog, Flingo.

About what motherhood has taught her about kindness, she says, “The learning curve I faced as a new mom was a steep one. I thought I had to have it all figured out all of the time. The truth is, we all learn as we go, we all second-guess ourselves, we all figure it out through trial and error.

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“Traveling through motherhood, I realize we have more in common than not and that the kindest act we can do for ourselves and each other is to come to the table without judgment. Noticing our shared struggles and triumphs — finding the compassion to offer a smile or a kind word — is what makes the journey better and brighter.”

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Image via Denise LaRosa

Denise LaRosa is a wife and mother of three girls. She is the creator and host of Mom Talk with Denise LaRosa, a podcast designed to motivate, inspire, and inform mothers along their journey in motherhood. To learn more about Denise, visit her blog and watch her podcasts.

About what motherhood has taught her about kindness, she says, “I would like to think I was already a kind person. After all, I was named ‘Friendliest Girl' in high school and earned the title of Miss Congeniality in pageants. (Yes, I did pageants back in the day. Please don't judge me!)

“When I was a tutor in an after-school program about 10 years ago, I remember a day when two students were fighting over who was going to get the last sandwich that was left over. A teacher randomly walked by, heard the dispute, and handed the sandwich over to the boy. The little girl shouted, ‘That's not fair! Miss Denise would have split it in half!'

“But the truth of the matter is, being a mother taught me the art of kindness in a way that cannot be measured by a simple act or word of encouragement. At the heart of kindness is empathy. When my children hurt, physically or emotionally, I hurt. When my children are in need of a helping hand, my body instantly moves in their direction before my mind has processed the steps.

“Indeed, your children are an extension of you. They may leave the womb, but they will always remain close to you, forever holding a special place in your heart and soul. It is my hope that my daughters will see the art of kindness modeled through both my words and actions and make it their own greatest work of art.”

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Image via Christine Organ

Christine Organ is the author of Open Boxes: The Gifts of Living a Full and Connected Life. You can find her writing on her blog.

About what motherhood has taught her about kindness, she says, “Motherhood has taught me the importance of honesty and vulnerability to connection and that a little kindness — a smile from a stranger, a you're-doing-a-good-job pat on the back — can, quite simply, save your day. Motherhood has taught me that, despite our differences, we are all in this together. We are all on the same team.”

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Image via Michelle Lewsen

Michelle Lewsen blog, They Call Me Mummy, is a place where imperfect parents can come to exhale and say, “Me too.”

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About what motherhood has taught her about kindness, she says, “One day, one of my daughters came home from school with a tear-stained face because she had — again — been the target of a mean girl. I explained that sometimes people are mean because they feel small or sad, and they think the only way to feel bigger and better is to make someone else feel bad.

“She thought about this for a moment and then smiled triumphantly, as she replied, ‘Mum, I know what to do! Tomorrow at school, I'll be EXTRA kind to her and then maybe she will see that being kind makes me happy, and then she will maybe learn to be kind, too! Maybe nobody taught her that being kind makes you happy, Mama.' In that tiny moment, my 6-year-old taught me a momentous new life skill — one I now use in confrontations all the time. Kindness wins.”

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Image via Chris Carter

Chris Carter is a stay-at-home mom who has been writing at The Mom Cafe for nearly five years, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through humor, inspiration, and faith.

About what motherhood has taught her about kindness, she says, “When I became a mother, I quickly learned that I had a powerful role in teaching my kids about how to treat others with compassion. I realized that I am a living example to them, and I must be intentional about my own thoughts, my own words, and my own actions to ensure that they truly understand what this means and how to ‘live it.'

“I've become increasingly aware of the countless opportunities I have to help my kids develop a perspective that is framed with grace and colored with kindness, and through each lesson taught, I learn, too.”

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Image via Amy Emily Photography

Phyllis Myung writes about all things parenting as an Asian American at her blog, Napkin Hoarder.

About what motherhood has taught her about kindness, she says, “Becoming a mother has given me the challenge to see kindness in the eyes of my daughter every day. She and I talk a lot about what kindness looks like in the things we do, things we say, and how we treat those around us. She has taught me to look at others with her eyes — where each person starts out as a friend always, and we lavish kindness upon them — no questions asked.”

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Image via Saflower Photograph

Margaret Dilloway lives in San Diego with her three kids, husband, and a dog named Gatsby. Learn more about her on her blog.

About what motherhood has taught her about kindness, she says, “I never thought much about being a considerate person before I had children — I was focused on myself and what I wanted to do. But babies require you to give so much of yourself, to be uber-attentive to their needs, to put them before you.

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“I was surprised at how much joy this brought me and realized how simple actions positively or negatively affect the lives of others. So I've done my best to teach my kids how to be kind from early on. When my kids automatically break a cookie in half to share with their friends, or hold the door open for strangers, or stop what they're doing to help a girl who's spilled the contents of her backpack in a crowded passageway, I know they're way ahead of where I was at their ages.”

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Image via Tiffani Burnett-Velez

Tiffani Burnett-Velez has been a freelance writer for 19 years and is the author of three novels, Budapest, A Berlin Story, and the recent Booktrope release, All This Time. Her blog is This Writer's Life.

About what motherhood has taught her about kindness, she says, “Being a mother stretches the heart. It tears at it, builds it up, and makes more room for worry and love alike. Those moments when my children reach out for me — in infancy, during middle school, or from their college dorms — I'm compelled by my love for them to react with kindness, and when I see that same childlike need in others, it is my experience as a mother that urges me to respond.”

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Image via Laine Torres Photography, LLC

Heather Petri is a mother and a Mental Health Advocate who is learning to live life fearlessly over 40. She blogs at Life's A Disco Ball.

About what motherhood has taught her about kindness, she says, “The first time my child came crying to me because their feelings were hurt by the unkind words of another, it pierced my heart. The first time my son cried in my arms because the world struggled to accept him — a child who is ‘different,' a child who lives with mental illness — well, it broke my heart wide open into a million little pieces.

“As his mother, I've been a front-row witness to the effect of the unkind judgement, words, and actions of others. It reminded me to learn, listen, and lean in with compassion and kindness because our words have power, and used incorrectly and unkindly, they harden the souls of humanity. The best thing we can do? Lead with love. That's what becoming a mother taught me — to lead with love.”

{ MORE: This Blurry Photo Perfectly Captures the Loneliness of Motherhood }

What has motherhood taught you about kindness?

Kindness Wins is a simple no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online. Thank you for celebrating its release with me!

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How Becoming A Mother Taught Me Kindness

Galit Breen is the bestselling author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes you can get your child a phone and still create a grass-beneath-their-bare-feet childhood for them. Galit’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post; The Washington Post; Buzzfeed; TIME; and more. She liv ... More

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