Being both a professional creative and a parent, for all that it’s great, also sucks sometimes.
You want to be the superhero your kid needs. You also want them to remember you as someone awesome. Not “That bozo with the laptop and the pathetic weeping.”
And there are very cool things about being this kind of parent. You don’t have to wear a suit, or commute all the time, or use PowerPoint… ever.
You know the best memes, sometimes before they do (don’t get used to that). You can wear a cape to work if you want to. Or block out a swordfight.
In some ways, you are a superhero. You are a creative gladiator. You’re showing your kid that you can live a dream. And that imagination doesn’t have to wait in the wings for after work is done.
But you’re in a creative industry, where you hear the words “alas,” and “Just doesn’t work for me,” and “Best Book Ever! Two Stars,” a lot. No, really A LOT. You’re in a business where people don’t always do what they say they will.
And sometimes it’s ridiculous to even pretend you’re a superhero.
Sometimes it’s also the worst thing in the world you can do for your kid, or your family.
That’s because you’re *not* a mutant, and neither is your kid.
You have vulnerabilities, emotions, and — yes, really big hopes and dreams that can sometimes get squished under the wheels of rejection, a bad review, or just “stuff happens.” We all get that. Kids get it too and sometimes more frequently because they’re still learning.
To be honest, you’re still learning too. And that’s a good thing.
So why not be honest with them, once they’re old enough to understand that this frustration you’re feeling has nothing to do with them? They don’t need the gory details, but they do need the model.
I’m not a psychologist, but it stands to reason that kids are going to better understand that their own disappointments are not the end of the world if they see you try to fly and fall a little, once in a while. If they see you pick yourself back up and move on.
They’re going to realize better (possibly better than you do) when they’re also trying to fly (metaphorically & NOT off the roof.) that no one person or rejection has a lifetime of influence on their trajectory unless they (and you) let it. That no one thing or place or person has control over how their lives evolve.
So, every once in a while (dear dog, NOT every rejection because that’s just depressing), let them see you beneath the cape and mask.
COUGH … why yes , this *IS* me talking to myself – and yes, I’ve started to do this sometimes with The Urchin, who Hates To Fail as much as I do.
I don’t know what I expected… the first time was an accident and I was pretty angry with myself for letting my feelings of disappointment and frustration show. But what I got? Was The Urchin opening up about something that happened to them at school that kind of sucked too.
We got to compare notes. To talk strategy for picking ourselves up again. Make some jokes we probably shouldn’t have about what we’d do if we were superheroes. And then draw up more human plans together for how things could get better. Plus, later, we had some chocolate.
That’s better than a superhero cape any day.
This post is part of the #ParentingCreating blog tour. Previous posts include:
- Aliette de Bodard – The Myth of the Entire
- Patrick Sempire – Scenes from The Exhausted Land
- Leah Moore – On Being a Creative Parent
- Joyce Chng – Writing and Mothering – A Burning Path with Nice Morning-Glory Flowers
- Jim Hines – Balancing Writing and Parenting
- John Reppion – A Morning in the Life of a Writing Parent