As long as we’re talking about kids and parenting, can I get a little more personal here?
As I continue on my course of pursuing authordom, I find that I am more observant of the world around me. I’m always looking for that interesting little thing to add to my story to make it come alive even more (like remembering that bugs would be in a forest, therefore I should add bugs to my fantasy story) or that things are always more complicated than they seem (because people don’t yell at others for no reason).
I’ve also learned a lot from just watching my kids experience life – watching how my nearly 2-year-old son thinks every bug is a tick or how he pretends to eat the fairies from our Tinkerbell book or watching my daughter start to really imitate my behavior (for better or worse, right?) or put together two different ideas and come up with the right conclusion.
Motherhood is surprising, isn’t it?
For me, the biggest surprise of motherhood has been seeing how clearly my children reflect who I am. Of course, they are their own little persons with their own personalities and interests and mannerisms, but overall, they are a reflection of me. They reflect back to me how I’m spending my time or how I respond to situations.
Like when my daughter asks me to draw her a laptop and then brings her paper laptop to eat lunch. Oh man… do I really do that? Ouch!
Or when my daughter recently turned into the politeness police around here and coaches everyone on saying “please” and “thank you” and “you’re welcome”. I think I can pat myself on the back for that one.
Or when my son shushes our barking dog. Or just yells at him… oh dear. Again? Do I really do that?
I knew that they would become who we are. I’d heard that you reproduce who you are. I see how my daughter is starting to pick up my impatience or when the kids process out discipline on their toys, which invariably turns into ten thousand spankings in a row or banishing each other to the dog kennel. I start going over my mental list of all the discipline and am grateful to remember that spankings are a rarity and I’ve never once locked them in the dog kennel (though that might make some good fiction fodder).
Children, like the craft we pursue, are a better reflection of us than we realize. Somehow, I’d always expected to not leave myself quite so exposed on the page or in my children. The blessing of motherhood is the ability to experience life freshly, through the unlying eyes of children. The ability to see myself more clearly than I ever have.
Ultimately, we are the culmination of all the little things we do, of all the choices we make, and if we’re intentional, we’ll wake up one day to realize we’re just who we wanted to be (or at least close to the person we’d like our kids to be!). It’s the same with our craft, isn’t it? If we are intentional, we’ll wake up one day to realize that we became the kind of artist we wanted to be. We’ll realize that being disciplined and sticking to our plan worked out, all those tiny decisions that didn’t seem to matter so much in that moment really paid off.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have someone to go lock in the dog kennel…
What’s the reflection you’ve seen lately?
Cari Jehlik is an exclusive member of Becky Thompson’s Writer Network. For more information on how to join, go to www.BeckyThompsonCourse.com