Happy New Year!
2016 – So another year begins. I’m not really into new year resolutions (possibly because I can never keep them). I think every day is a fresh page onto which you get to write your story. Every good story has twists and turns so some days it will be down right crappy others you’ll soar. That’s life right? That said, there is something mentally clearing about seeing a number 1 on your calendar. Time to take stock of the journey behind you and on what’s ahead. Twenty fifteen rocketed past me and was such a mixed bag but I am so thankful for it. It has helped to define my path and I learnt a lot about me and a huge amount about what I want for myself and for my kids.
Being a parent teaches you so much about yourself, particularly as children get older and start navigating more than toilet training and acceptable table skills. (Although toddler tantrums can really show what you are made of too). Friendships, body image, fears, joys, accomplishments, failings .. all these things start to rehash our own stories, worries and insecurities. You just hope you can use your own experience to help navigate these years but ultimately everyone has to just write their own tale. That itself is a learning curve for parents as you realise that you don’t have a baby anymore and that you have to let this little piece of your heart find their own way. (For the uninitiated: parenting is freaking hard and no-one knows what they are doing … but it’s also amazing and I thank the tech gods for Google).
This came up strongly for me last year. My eldest didn’t want to go on her school trip. We waited patiently for her to come around to the idea, sold it’s awesomeness harder than any car salesman and eventually had to force the issue which was painful for all of us. She likes her comfort zone and was extremely worried about being homesick. She didn’t want to go because she would miss me. I didn’t want her to go because I would miss her. But I also don’t want her to EVER have her heart-broken, friendship woes, get rejected for a job, drive a car, worry, fear or get hurt in any way. Pushing my inner helicopter parent aside, more than anything I don’t want her to miss taking opportunities in life. I wanted her to be able to use this experience. “Remember when you were too scared to go on camp. Well you did it. You loved it and you can do this too.” I didn’t want her setting a path of opting out when life throws her something that triggers her fear. I want her to have the reserves, tenacity and self belief to take life on with both hands. You can’t stop all those hurts because they help shape us and form who we are. You WILL fail. It WILL hurt. It will teach you well and you will really live.
My children taking this leap into the wider world feels scary for them and me. For them it’s trying something new, for me it’s knowing that I can’t protect them from getting hurt and, having already been on some of these rides, that there is no escaping the bumps. They ARE going to get kicked in the arse by life.
The school trip decision felt defining for us both. It was a jump into independence for her to be away for a week but it forced internal questions for me as to why I dug my heels in about her going when it hurt. The answer I found was because I had to. The human equivalent of shoving her out of the nest so she could test her wings. We are both on new ground and having a tween has forced me into new parenting territory, and I’m guessing just merely dipping my toe in the ocean of drama that is to come. An ocean made up of the tears, pain and frustrations of parents of teenagers world-wide.
So last year has really been reflective on what I want for my little people (ok one is taller than me but you know … ) and what I actually CAN do to protect them, and that is to help them to be resilient, adventurous, trust their instincts, respect fear but be brave enough to push through it when it’s the right way forward.
As it happened, around the time of the school trip, I listened to a fantastic interview between Marie Forleo and the wonderful author Elizabeth Gilbert about Elizabeth’s new book Big Magic. (Click here to watch the video – It’s well worth it). Liz says “fear can be in the car but it’s not going to drive, choose the snacks, hold the map or touch the radio”. It was a sensational metaphor for what I had been thinking about fear for the future for myself and my children. A reminder to me that fear is not bad. It serves us in protecting us and helping us make good decisions when needed but it can’t be allowed to run the show. Sometimes you have to pat fear on the back and say “thanks buddy” but take that big leap anyway.
By the end of 2015 there were some big leaps but I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner. Into 2016 I hope we all build resilience, find adventure, trust our instincts and bravely search out opportunities, joy and passion (even when fear taps us on the shoulder and tells us to ease up). Let’s not use the knocks life has thrown so far to build up walls that stop us, just keep them handy as steps to climb into a freaking awesome future and teach our kids to do the same.
As for my work, it’s an extension of who I am so I also want it to be a space to learn, grow, explore, evolve and take steps to be the best it can be. I want to help capture kids being brave and bold, finding their passion and growing into awesome beings. Put some images to the life stories you are writing together.
Let’s go twenty sixteen.