Updated: Sep 8, 2019
My kids are totally different people with different interests – and those interests can vary from minute to minute. But I indulge a lot of their whims.
If I catch a whiff that they might like something, I encourage them to give it a shot. Yes, this can be expensive. Yes, sometimes we try things that don’t work out. But sometimes these whims turn into real passions. Like when Owen said he wanted to play the bass. After lessons every week for 6 months, he’s playing songs like, “I Will Survive” and “Come and Get Your Love.” I signed Colin up when he told he wanted to play soccer, and seven seasons later he’s tough on defense and scored the tying goal in their last game of the season.
Sometimes their commitment can be a pain in the butt, cutting into my own plans – like swim team (ugh, ha!) – but I’m proud that they stick to the things they love. And I feel like picking up on these little signs and helping them explore the things that interest them, not only allows them to have fun and try something new, but it also may help them find the things that will fulfill their lives.
When I was a little girl I used to rearrange my furniture weekly. I was obsessed with clothes. I held class in my garage. I couldn’t get enough of Shel Silverstein, writing poems and drawing. I played the flute. I created carnival games for the neighborhood kids – and even sold tickets and my own baked goods. It was obvious I was going to be creative … and bossy! And it's all of the things that I loved then that still give my life color now. Like baking. Writing. Creating. Teaching my kids new things. Spending time with friends.
I wonder if it’s generational. I feel like girls in my generation were expected to go to college because we could, not because we could do something great. We were encouraged to work, make our own money. But I’m not sure our early interests were nurtured with the thought that if they were, it might spark something great in us, fuel our future selves.
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that my parents taught me not to rely on anyone else. And they showed up at every cheerleading competition and football game. But they were busy. My mom was a single mom, working two jobs to make ends meet. She certainly wasn’t pursuing a career, but she was taking care of her family. My dad had a successful career that took him all over the world. He wanted me to go to college, but he wanted me to study something with a direct path to a lucrative job because he wanted me to be able to take care of myself.
They did their best. They did what they knew to do. And because of them, I turned out to be a mom who encourages her kids to do the things that give them confidence and make them happy. Maybe this next generation in my family will find a way to put their passions at the center of their lives, instead of the periphery, and live much more fulfilling lives.