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.

Things I want my children to learn

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.

Things I want my children to learn that I've learned

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.

What I've learned I want to teach my children

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?

——
Circus Queen is a finalist in The MAD Blog Awards. Please vote for me to win “Best Pregnancy Blog”.


32 Comments

  1. April 14, 2014 / 1:30 am

    What a wonderful post! It’s always lovely to learn more about the person behind the blog and these are such lovely reflections on a chapter of your life. happy birthday lovely xx
    Lori recently posted..15/52

  2. Esther Alexander
    April 14, 2014 / 3:09 am

    Beautifully said, Adele! Always enjoy reading your posts, but your philosophy on failure being part of life particularly resonates with me. 10 years has gone by quickly, in some ways, but in others so much has happened. Happy belated birthday, and keep writing – you are a blessing xoxo

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:22 pm

      Thank you. I finally passed but it has not been a straightforward or easy journey and that’s certainly a lesson both for me and my children!

  3. April 14, 2014 / 7:25 am

    I’m also 28 and have been a little surprised that 18 was ten years ago. So much has happened and yet it feels like an age I can still relate to.

    I love the part about not being able to fix each other in a realtionship – this is so true and something I want to model to my children too.

    Thanks for writing – ps beautiful photos! Xx

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:23 pm

      I told a friend about something that happened 10 years ago and she could hardly believe it was 10 years ago. This portion of life has just flown!

  4. April 14, 2014 / 10:28 am

    When I was 28 I was hard at it in my job, just about to move to manhattan for a year. I had none of the things you have in your heart and your home. Part of me wishes I hadn’t waited another ten years to become a wife and mother.

    You write beautifully. Very happy birthday
    Eleanor (thebristolparent) recently posted..#silentsunday April 13th 2014

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:23 pm

      We all do things at different times and probably at just the times we’re meant to.

  5. April 14, 2014 / 11:22 am

    what a beautiful post! We have a lot of similarities in what you have written. Happiest of birthdays! xx
    Fritha recently posted..Our Weekend in Pictures

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:24 pm

      Yeah, I’ve thought from our conversations that we’ve had similar paths. πŸ™‚

  6. April 14, 2014 / 2:36 pm

    Happy Birthday! πŸ™‚ Lovely, lovely post and amen to everything you said. There are many things I want my 3-year-old daughter to know too. At the moment though, all I can think of is for her to value education and to trust that it will take you somewhere. Like you mentioned, it may take awhile and you might even end up in a place where you don’t want to be. But to know that it will only be temporary and to trust in the future. I’m rambling here… What I want to say is, for me a good education opens up doors and gives you different opportunities and choices in life.

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:25 pm

      Yes, I really want my children to never lose a love of learning.

  7. April 14, 2014 / 3:35 pm

    This was just so wonderful to read. I think I took some lessons from this and I’ll be 29 in July πŸ˜‰

  8. April 14, 2014 / 7:12 pm

    Happy Birthday lovely! What a beautiful post {and that first photo is stunning!} Good luck with the driving test!
    Polly recently posted..Season’s Eating Giveaway

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:26 pm

      Thank you! Laurence took that one, though I’d like to take credit.

  9. April 14, 2014 / 8:24 pm

    I love this post…and I particularly love your line, “my one wild and wonderful life”…that makes me think too – and it’s a really important thing to think about. I’m older than you are and still trying to figure it all out (and wondering if I should be a long-term pedestrian too!!!). Great post!

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:27 pm

      I actually unintentionally was channeling that quote “what will you do with your one wild and precious life?” I think!

  10. April 15, 2014 / 2:00 pm

    As always such a wonderful and heartfelt written post – so beautiful and I agree with so many of the things you are saying – especially about feeling good within yourself, what you look like and everyone is beautiful no matter what the media tries to make us feel. Love the photos and good luck with your driving test πŸ™‚

    Laura x
    Laura recently posted..Cardiff Bloggers Spring Meet

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:28 pm

      I’m making a real effort not to say or think negative things about my appearance not just for my girls but also for me!

  11. April 15, 2014 / 7:53 pm

    Wow it’s so amazing to read about all your thoughts and experience and what has brought you to this moment now. So many lessons learned, and so many more to come! Sometimes its really important to be able to look back and reflect, in order to move on into the future! Thanks so much for sharing.
    abigail recently posted..fifteen / fifty-two

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:29 pm

      Yes, it feels like quite a chapter to reflect on. I’m thoroughly looking forward to the years ahead.

    • April 22, 2014 / 11:30 pm

      Thank you. lovely. I’m really glad to have passed. Fingers crossed I never need to take another driving test – so no speeding!

  12. February 3, 2015 / 10:28 pm

    Beautifully put and some lovely pictures too. Such a sweet thing for your daughter to say about herself, I hope she always stays that confident and positive x

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