It all began with this print.
In a field of roses, she is a wildflower.
I found it on Etsy and it instantly reminded me of my gram – her love of wildflowers and how she chose to live her life differently than others. It reminded me of me. And I wanted it for Charlie.
I didn’t think anything of it until one day my husband said to me, What if Charlie wants to be a rose? My first reaction was, Ugh. Why would she want to be like everyone else? She totally wants to be a wildflower! She’s not going to be a sheep just following along and being like everyone else. Why would you want her to be average?
And then weeks later, I was still thinking about what he said. Damn you, smart hubby.
It stuck with me because I realized that I’m doing something without even realizing.
I’m expecting her to be a certain way and she’s 7 months old. Why am I doing that? I need to check myself, especially when it’s the complete opposite of what I want for our kids. I want to raise children who are their own little people.
I want them to have their own interests (even if it involves a lot of sports and outdoor ventures, this introvert book worm will be there cheering them on). I want them to grow up really knowing themselves. My hope is that by having self-awareness, they will be able to make life decisions based on what feels right for them and not based on the expectations of others (mine included). That won’t happen if I’m already meddling.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a good thing for parents to pass on their positive traits to their children (to teach their kids to have good manners or to care for others). I think kids are lucky to grow up in families that are very musical, athletic, outdoorsy…whatever it may be. I also think it’s good to expose them to different things to find out what they enjoy.
What I am worried about are those parts of ourselves that are not so positive. Kids pick up on those too. The parts that we don’t even notice because they’ve become habit or are so ingrained in who we are – our beliefs and behaviours. That’s what the print triggered for me. What messages am I sending our kids without even realizing? I don’t want our daughter to pick up my negative body image or to feel like she’s never enough because of my perfectionism. I don’t want my worries to become my children’s.
You may be thinking this is a little much, Lainie, and maybe it is. I just know the influence adults can have on the development of children. My undergrad was in child and youth studies, my degrees are in education, and as a teacher I was lucky to spend lots of time with kids. What teachers say, can shape how kids see themselves. You might even remember something negative or positive that a teacher once said to you that affected who you are or the decisions you’ve made. What parents say, the same thing. Despite good intentions, we need to be so careful with our words and our actions around kids; they are little sponges.
So to be more aware of myself, the baggage I carry, the biases I might have, and the expectations I might unconsciously impose on my kids, I’ve been doing lots of reading, reflecting, and writing (hence the strange little bus people I’ve been writing about: Protective Patty, Perfectionist Pippi, and Fake Francis). I have been reading books that I would have never picked up in a million years. I’m having to think about things that I have tried to forget for a long time and memories that aren’t so nice. I am learning more about myself and my hope is that my children will be better for it.
These little people are my world.
On a Side Note:
After Eric’s comment I started to question the whole idea of being a wildflower, which I interpreted to mean that she would be different and stand on her own. And then, being the nerd that I am, I looked up the definition of a wildflower and of a rose. I totally want her to be a wildflower now! (Yes, as you can see, I’m still working on the whole, don’t impose things on your kids stuff). I have to tell you all about it, it’s so cool. I’ll write another post soon. I’ll probably call the post Wildflowers and Roses or I Want to Grow Wildflowers.