32/52 – Truth
Bella has always possessed a little bit of mad creative genius.
Her profile that was distributed to prospective adoptive parents included a line about how she liked to repurpose trash to make art. By the time she became our daughter she had long since grown out of fancy crafts and had moved on to making potions. Her earliest weeks with us were spent combining various touches and splashes of dried herbs to concoct an array of magic potions.
This child has always been artistic, but has been afraid to grow and challenge herself. She’s figured out her niche, her favourite medium, and she’s perfected it. She draws dragons on repeat.
Sometimes I forget that she’s no longer the girl who started to complete a portfolio to attend the local arts school and let her fear of rejection engulf her dreams. It’s not supposed to be my disappointment that she missed a life changing opportunity. It’s not supposed to matter to me that she quit before she ever tasted her successes.
I forget that three years have passed and she’s managed to have grown in some pretty significant ways – as both an artist and as a human being.
Sometimes I’ll flip through her sketchbook and discover work that make me pause. I’ll see a pencil sketch and wonder if it’s hers. I’ll thumb over drawings that make me realize how much of her talent remains untapped. But more often than not I’m overly critical in my head and wonder when she’s going to push herself, challenge herself, tap into something that’s so brilliant and discover her own personal artistic genius.
Every parent wants to think their child is brilliant. And maybe the truth is that mine is not.
Or, maybe she is. And the truth is that I can’t see anything but ordinary in her so I’ve never been able to support her long enough to help her find her own wings. Maybe who she is is good enough and I should be simply satisfied with that fact.
But I’m scared to fully embrace her as is. I’m scared for her future and the juncture where her future intersects with mine.
Bella loves art. She loves making costumes. She’s made what she’s wearing in the picture above. And as awesome as it is, it’s not perfect. It’s not moulded to her body well. It’s not necessarily constructed with care. Details aren’t relevant in her mind.
Despite all of those strengths of passion, creativity and imagination, I’m not sure she has what it takes to succeed as an artist. She’s so personally invested in each of her creations that she lacks the resilience and tenacity and perseverance to deal with any negative blow.
My 18-year-old is in her final year of high school and our job as parents is to prepare her to launch.
It’s scary when you’re trying to be supportive of your child, when you want them to follow their dreams, only you know that dreams don’t put food on the table and a roof over their head. Dreams that could mean incurring huge amounts of debt without the future earning potential to ever repay that debt.
And selfishly, I don’t want to be supporting this child well into her thirties. I want her to be financially capable paying for own life within the means which she is able to earn.
She’s thinking about pursuing fashion and costume design. And every inch of my parental body is screaming ‘NO!’ and stuffing down my throat the countless roadblocks I want to utter.
She doesn’t quite yet understand what brutal job market she’ll be faced with after graduation. She knows nothing about contract work and the lack of benefits. She’s never thought about how she might have to wait tables,stock shelves – or horror of all horrors work in a fast food joint – full-time to make ends meet before her career takes off. These are all abstract concepts in her mind.
We’ve told her more truths about adulthood than our parents told us. Yet she’s still woefully unprepared.
The thing about being the type of parents we want to be is that we need to let our kids fail. Although I can see a disaster barreling towards us, it’s not up to me to prevent it from happening. I have the power to stop it, but its not a power I want to unnecessarily wield. Bella needs to make her own mistakes. She can’t learn from mine.
What I want more than anything is to learn that I’ve been mistaken all along. That the truth when revealed is that I lost my faith in my child. And that’s she’s believed in herself more than I ever have.