We over-schedule our kids.
Ok, so what of those things that they are over-scheduled with will they keep doing after high-school?
Sitting in a display of “hidden” talents with the sisters in my congregation tonight, I had a sad realization. People have told me that high school is a bubble, but I realized a whole new side of it tonight. The sports, the music, drama-teams, 4-H, clubs... these are incredible opportunities for people to have and be a part of. But after high school is over, unless you make money from whatever that talent was, it isn’t very likely you’ll keep it up! (I think it took me so long to realize this because I have been in a university bubble).
There is a time and place for everything, sure. But does that mean after high school/university all your life will consist of is work/family? That is a pretty dreary life to look forward to… Sadly, though, it seems to be too normal. As I talk with mothers and I ask them what else they do besides work/stay-at-home-parent, and what else do they do to add balance in their life or provide meaning, more than one woman has responded with “That’s the million dollar question,” with a regretful/reproachful laugh.
There were women at this forum who sang beautifully, played instruments, recited poetry, etc, albeit a bit rustily. Some talents you can easily incorporate into family life: sewing, baking, genealogy, painting, quilting, and knitting. But what of the soccer teams, gymnastics and dance classes, bands, private music lessons, language clubs, team sports? (Don’t tell me to just be a soccer-mom. That doesn’t fix MY need to play the sport.)
I vividly remember as a teenager wishing for kid toys that were built to adult-scale. How come the kiddies get all this fun stuff, but not older people? Didn’t seem fair.
I am a swimmer. Was in high school, kept it up after, and I still consider myself as such. It is easy enough to find a pool open for lap swim in the mornings. Ok, I can keep that up. But what about music?
I have been involved in the creation of music since I began taking piano lesson at age 8. I didn’t love it then. That came later. By the time I had a full ride scholarship to University on my musical abilities and my good grades, I was becoming aware of the ties that bind my soul to the need for the creation of music. Playing music alone is only for practical purposes- to master skills (the exception to that rule is piano). The real beauty of playing an instrument comes when you combine multiple instruments. This creates an explosion of harmony and depth that carries you away on crashing waves and then gentle breezes. There is an indescribable emotion that catapults my heart into a musical universe of bliss, where emotions are felt so acutely, described so clearly and intensely, in a language that transcends words, that you feel them all as though they were your own. They do, in fact, become your own through such an experience. It wasn’t until I had a semester break from bands and orchestras that I realized the desire, and need, within me to be a part of it. As the saying goes, depravity is the greatest motivator. Every time I return my horn, it doesn’t take very many months before I’ll be in some audience where a piece of orchestrated divinity is played that entirely wraps me up, fills me up, and bursts out my eyes in tears of bliss that remind me… I am tied from the very innermost part of my being to the need for, and love of, creating and appreciating music.
But I don’t own a horn. It isn’t my job, and it isn’t my child, lol. As an adult trying to look into the future, I squint into the bleak unknown and am decidedly sure that what I see doesn’t fit me into playing a horn. Well I guess I need to change the precedent, then. Perhaps I can’t continue all of the hyper-scheduling I could have enjoyed as a kid and wanted to enjoy in university: the gymnastics and ballet and musical theatre and singing lessons and tai chi and …. you get the picture. Who knows, all those things might have a place in the future. But I am sure that I don’t want to “live my life through my kids” aka put them in musical theatre because I wish I could be in it.
I think parents can still be involved in ‘extra-curricular activities’, (our curriculum now being our work and kids? Lol). Obviously there must be balance, and the point is absolutely not to make mothers feel even more overwhelmed, but from the discussions I’ve had so far I think that mothers do very well to have an ‘other’ in their lives, and that that ‘other’ can be of great worth and value to them personally.
Will my ‘other’ be playing the horn? I’m not sure yet, but tonight was another one of those ‘I’m lacking music and music just reduced me to tears’ moments, which was, interestingly, a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
What are the ‘others’ that keep your lives in balance? I hope you have one and didn’t leave them all behind in highschool! (But don’t worry if you did, it’s never too late to start up again, as I continue to realize). J