I just started reading Braving the Wilderness by Dr. Brené Brown, and after only the first chapter, I’m going to try my best not to essentially plagiarize the whole thing here on my blog. I had one of those moments flipping through the first 28 pages that you hope to have with authors. I felt like I could be Dr. Brown’s friend right there and then. Our stories are vastly different in the way they played out, but the emotions she felt, the weight of her loneliness as she described it…gosh, I felt like it was written just for me.
You all need to go grab a copy for yourself, so I’ll try my best not to ruin the opening story here, but Dr. Brown (can I call her Brené?) recalls the first moment that she truly lost her sense of belonging. Her story has to do with her family and a reaction they had to something she tried to accomplish. While she reveals that the actions of her parents were probably not their intended response, it scarred her for a long time. She wasn’t what they wanted, and of course that rejection is devastating.
I realize that I’m taking these 31 days to discuss the ins and outs of my own journey back to creativity, but I’m also on a journey of being a parent. I’m nearing my third trimester (coming up next week) and that due date seems to be coming toward me at lightening speed. Reading this story of Brené’s past sat heavy on my heart regarding the future of my little one. As I put the book down to jot a few notes and quotes, my mind began asking, what if…
What if the desire of this child’s heart is to play sports? What if they want nothing to do with music? What if they aspire to play the Tuba? What if their lack of accomplishment or success disappoints me? What if I don’t encourage them enough? What if, in wanting my own story to play out as I imagine, I inhibit their own?
Before I really discovered music, I aspired to be a secretary, then a veterinarian, so I know these things change over time. But music and art and creativity are so much a part of my life. I wouldn’t settle for marrying someone that didn’t love those things, so I can’t imagine our children would turn out any different than us. But, the reality of it is, there’s a good chance they could. How will I react? Will I offer the same support for their passion as my family did for mine?
One of my greatest fears as a mother is to drive my kids crazy. I already want the world for my kids; I can feel it. I want them to do greater things than I’ve done. I want them to love music, so if I put them in piano lessons and make them practice three times per week, will I notice when they hate it? Will I be able to tell the difference between the kind of apathy I had not wanting to take lessons, and their actual disdain? I want to teach them to push through the hard stuff – the homework, the practice, because I often gave up too easily. But God help me to see when they actually hate it. The last thing I want is for them to hate it.
My Mom has always said that children become part of your world and not the other way around. So if we have records on, or play our instruments and sing together, undoubtedly, our kids will do this too. But there’s only so much we can expect in that. One day, we will absolutely become part of their world. As kids may learn to love the things we do, they may carry on that appreciation to some extent, but at some point it may not infiltrate their adult lives as it does ours. One day, music could be something Mom and Dad loved. You know, Dr. Gregory had a band in high school, but gave that up when she (or he) discovered their fascination with the human brain. It could happen!
And of course I would be so proud!
Let’s get back to the point. I think I’m learning that while I’m a creative, not every person in the world is. The words I speak, whether to my own child, a friend, or someone in my community regarding what they do can make or break them. Creatives shouldn’t only expect support from other creatives, nor should we only lend it to creatives. I think artists have a unique ability to see into the hearts of people and pull things out. It is the artist’s job to inspire without a particular agenda (okay…this is not always true; we constantly desire to make a point with art, but try to understand…).
An artist can look at a multimedia abstract hanging in a gallery and have a certain feeling about it. Maybe they’re inspired to work with new materials. A lawyer comes in to view that same piece and is encouraged by the harmony of it and thinks about a new way to approach a case. A discouraged single Father looks at it and connects with hope again. Artistic- or creative-type parents have the ability to do the same thing in their children: they may not necessarily become little versions of ourselves, but we have the opportunity to share what we love with them and let it inspire any which way it will.
All I know is, reflecting on Brené Brown’s story, I don’t want to put my children through that kind of rejection. Even if they are different and don’t fit in other places, home should always be a place of belonging. Dr. Brown writes,
Even in the context of suffering – poverty, violence, human rights violations – not belonging in our families is still one of the most dangerous hurts.
No matter where their passion takes them, I want my kids to feel supported and encouraged because that’s what every child needs.
Read the Intro Post: A Journey of 31 Days