What the last decade has taught me that I want to teach my children
So I got up this morning somehow 28. It’s my birthday today. Really, 18 does not feel a decade ago, even though everything has changed in that time.
I’ve been reflecting on what’s changed and what hasn’t. It’s made me think about what I want my daughters (who have been the biggest change in my life) to know about what maturing means.
Ten years ago, I was learning to drive. Today, I’m still learning.
In fact, I have another driving test tomorrow. I’m actually in a pretty good place with this. I might pass, I might not. I will eventually. At least I’m not putting it off anymore. I’m determined, I’m going for it and I’ve finally reached a point where I believe I can drive. Even a few months ago I was still wondering whether I should just choose to be a lifelong pedestrian.
What I want my girls to learn is that just because something doesn’t come easily doesn’t mean it’s not worth learning. I also want them to know that it is OK for failure to be part of the journey.
Ten years ago, I hated my body. Today, I don’t think about it that much.
The other day, Talitha leaned in to tell me something very earnestly. It was spoken like a precious secret. “Mummy, I am very beautiful,” she said. I smiled and agreed with her.
I long for her to grow up strong against a world that will tell her that her body is public property and that her physical beauty is what’s valuable about her. I rage against these lies, knowing too that “You are not beautiful” and “You are not enough” are whispered with them.
Ten years ago, I thought I needed a relationship to feel complete. Today, I know that’s not true.
This year Laurence and I will have been married for five years. I absolutely love him more than ever. My admiration and respect for him have grown with time. The first blush of romance has faded and is growing into something far more meaningful, something I wouldn’t trade for the excitement of new love. But.
I have learned again and again that that does not mean we can save each other. Any demons I entered this marriage with are going to stick around until I find a path to freedom. He cannot fix me and to expect that of another person is not only unfair and unrealistic but cruel.
I want to model a healthy relationship for my children. That’s one of the best gifts a parent can give.
Ten years ago, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Today, um, I’m still figuring it out.
At 18 I was on a gap year, having enrolled to study English Literature because I was good at it and, frankly, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, career-wise.
After my first degree, I did a Masters because I figured I wanted to research and teach. I fell out of love while writing my dissertation, partly because I’d chosen the wrong area of study, really, and partly because I was depressed at the time.
Then I embarked on a really short career in magazine journalism.
Then I got pregnant and realised I wanted to stay home with my baby, like long-term too because home educating was something I’d always thought about.
And now? Well, yeah, that’s the path I’m on but I still don’t know what I plan to do. I’ve been copywriting and doing social media stuff around Talitha for the last couple of years. It’s pretty decent but is it what I want to be doing with my one wild and wonderful life? I don’t know.
What I want my kids to learn is that there are different paths to things. You don’t have to figure it all out in one go or even early in life. It can unfold over time. Your purpose and dreams can also change over time. Life does not have to be spent doing just one thing.
Ten years ago, I thought I knew everything. Today, I’m cool with some doubt.
I was so black and white about things when I was younger. I’m naturally very driven by rules and certainties. It makes me feel safe.
The last decade has seen me move country, meet a much wider pool of people with so many different histories and perspectives and have experiences that have made me question everything.
I want my children to grow up knowing that doubts do not invalidate your faith, that doubt can make you softer, more compassionate and more understanding.
What do you most want your children to know?
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