In this world full of drive and being better than the next person, creates a lot of anxiety, especially when you are a parent. No wonder this world is at an all-time high for anti-depressants, suicides, and unhappiness.
I was in the rat race years ago. I remember thinking, “My kids are going to be given as much opportunity as I can possibly provide them!”
I filled our schedules with violin lessons for all kids age 4 and older, piano, and a sport. Or two. Lots of time in the car for all of us- young and old. Feeding babies in their car seat, doing homework, or eating dinner in your 2′ X 2′ car space. I’m a good parent- right?! Go Go Go.
My Natalie was a little genius. At age 4 she could read a chapter book. She could play the violin and turn on the computer and add in all the passwords to get to her favorite game. Nati was good at everything she touched. She went to a different school for accelerated students and thrived in this environment. Years later, when the time came to choose what Jr. High and High School to go to, I thought I would pick for her and she would go to the school outside our boundaries with those same accelerated kids. Push push push- that’s the way I parented and I knew she could do it.
Natalie taught me something I will never forget. She said she wanted to be a “normal” kid. She wanted to be with her friends in the neighborhood and go to the school they all went to. Then she didn’t want to take both piano and violin anymore- she was going to choose piano. What? Are you kidding? After 10+ years of violin, she wanted to quit. After being the highest-ranked kid in the class, she wanted to take art. Later after taking AP classes, she didn’t want to take the AP tests.
What do I do? I let her decide. I had to back off. Choices- they were hers for her life. You know what- 10 years later and she has turned out just fine. No, not just fine, but amazing and Natalie did it all by herself. Yes, she graduated from college and paid for it all. Yes, she went on to get another degree and graduated top of her class. Yes, she has a job that makes her happy. She is fulfilled because she made choices and goals and SHE accomplished them.
I learned these kids’ lives are not mine. I can motivate, but in the end, the action has to be by the kids themselves. Also, I learned that play is essential. Let them rest. CRAZY! I learned that kids have it inside themselves to follow their own dreams and they are the ones who know their potential and get to find their purpose. They are on their own path, different than mine. I began pushing to be self-sufficient- they find security in knowing they can do anything they want all by themselves.
Good job Natalie and thanks for teaching me so much. As a kid, you taught me how to be a parent. Your younger siblings thank you as well because now they don’t have schedules filled to the brim. They have choices. I know they will be just fine in the real world by teaching them correct principles and living in a home with guidelines and consequences. My main goal now is to find joy in life and that is what you bring me.
Happy 25th birthday Nat!
Fun in the Photo Booth with Natalie and some of our other kiddos…
April 1, 2016