I’ve been thinking a lot recently about whether Jared and I celebrate who our children are, because I don’t want any of their talents and abilities to go unnoticed. It’s a difficult question to ask, because it could mean accepting that we need to make big changes, when we already feel like we’re doing our absolute best. As parents, we place importance on certain attributes and activities depending on our own interests, and whilst that is a good thing, it can also mean we miss the talents that we can’t relate to. For example, Winston is artistic – Jared and I are not, and I find it difficult to know how to nurture that in him, when Jared and I are as clueless as each other.
I know I place a lot of importance on education, because I love keeping up to date with all of the new things that they’re learning. My parents were the same. Both of them took a keen interest in my schoolwork and they were always there if I needed help. Jared and I are both sporty, and this is something we want to pass onto our children. Jared is keen for one of them to play the guitar, and I’m keen to keep their sense of adventure alive, because my parents have always been so adventurous and fun (who has 11 children?), which I feel has helped me immensely in my own life.
I’ve been trying to really focus on what qualities each of our boys brings to our family – what they enjoy doing, what their talents are, and assess whether their environment allows them to develop those talents, and whether we enable them to spend time doing the things that they love most. When I asked myself these questions about Winston, the honest answer was a resounding ‘no’, which I tried my best to justify away, but I concluded that it was true.
Winston and I clash a lot, in fact he clashes with just about everyone in our home, and it can make our home far from peaceful. He can be disruptive, angry and aggressive, which is a far cry from his permanent role model behaviour at school. He’s a total perfectionist and is always working on a little project at school and at home. He organises, he leads and he gets things done, and fitting his younger brothers into that can frustrate him greatly. He’s a clever, confident child and because he is so capable I often forget that he’s only seven, and can feel overwhelmed at times, just like I do. I feel like the summer holidays couldn’t have come at a better time for us both – he needs to be outdoors, and I need to really appreciate who he is.
Growing up, I sometimes felt that being part of a large family meant that I wasn’t celebrated as an individual, although I’m sure this happens in every family, regardless of size. My parents bent over backwards to take me to music lessons, to sports games, to clubs, to socialise and to anything else they could help me with, but I absolutely struggled being a teenager in such a busy household. Getting to know myself has come a bit later on in my life, and my latest revelation (that I’m slightly obsessed about), is that I am an introvert, rather than an extrovert. I grew up never being alone, always surrounded by people and I assumed that that was me – but it’s not.
I’m not really sure what the purpose of this post is, other than it’s something that has been on my mind a lot over the last few weeks. I want to get the tricky balance between ‘not fussing’ over my children, but also letting them know that they are a big deal and that they can do, and be anything that they want to be.