He looks across the pool to me, sitting in a plastic chair giving him a big grin and a thumbs up. My 4-year-old had just finished his turn practicing “dips” underwater and even though he got some water in his nose, he had done it. And he was proud. So was I.
She looks up at me as she confidently states the five letters of her name, pointing at each one that adorns her bedroom wall for decoration. My daughter had learned to spell her name, and this was her first time reading out the letters herself. She was proud. So was I.
It’s natural that children are learning and growing and stretching themselves to their limits more than most adults. Their brains are developing, their sense of self is evolving, and everything is new. From the first feeling of grass on their toes to subtraction and understanding why it’s dark at night and light in the day. Everything is met with a “wow!” because they’re right: Life is wondrous.
As we get older we start to settle into the wonder. We’re still learning, but perhaps begrudgingly. We’re still exploring, but with less vigor. Things aren’t quite as new, opportunities to be “spell your name for the first time”-level proud come few and far between.
Then we have children of our own. This kicks off a period of time to double down on cementing the responsible part of our brains. The pay-the-bills part, the do-the-dishes part. That’s good. We should do those things. But then for many people, parenthood jump-starts something else. Responsibility is paramount, but curiosity and passion start to bubble to the top, too.
Ever wonder why there are so many parenting bloggers? Or emerging parent-owned Etsy shops? Or kids cheering in the stands at an adult league softball game? There’s something to this. We’ve been given a gift.
The gift is certainly not one of time. Parents have less time. Far less time than we used to, but somehow we do more than we did before kids entered stage right. It’s because of the gift of inspiration. The little brains we are helping to mold spark something in ours that we started to lose. The tenacity. The ambition. The willingness to try, and fail, and then maybe soar.
Ask a parent with a hobby or a side business where they find the time. They’ll tell you “I get up early” or “I stay up late” or “my spouse and I trade off time.” All of this is true. But the secret sauce is that they find the time because they need to. When something starts brewing inside your head and you’re as inspired as a young kid because once again you’re seeing the world through their eyes, you need to do something with it.
I typed the last line of the book I’ve been writing for almost a year. It still needs work, but a first draft is now complete. All the chapters have content, there is a theme and flow. The book has been written almost all between the hours of 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. when the kids were still in bed. There were also late nights and a smattering of notes on my phone that eventually turned into paragraphs. My husband and I traded off solo parenting duties every so often so I could get some ideas onto a screen.
I wrote that book because I needed to. While I didn’t expect this wave of creativity and curiosity to come washing over me five years ago before my children were born, I write right now because I need to. My kids gave me that gift. The gift of needing to do something new, create something new, make myself proud.
And I am proud. So are they.