When my kids were small, it was in fashion to parent in a way that brought out the brilliance in every child while honoring their unique talents. For me, growing up the opposite was true. I hid my brilliance, my light, my authenticity, or whatever you wish to call it.
My relatives didn’t sit in their rooms reading Chekhov or Dostoyevsky for fun. My relatives were boisterous and charismatic. They could tell jokes, and they didn’t want to work for Lobbists and change the world.
As a kid, I felt it was important to fit in and not draw too much attention to myself. There was a definite “we” in my family, a party line, and a host of secrets to go along with it.
When I graduated from college, my mother told me that she was surprised that I had graduated. When I asked her why, she said she didn’t think I was smart enough. I can’t blame her, as I skipped most of my high school classes to hide out painting in the art room, or to read novels in the library.
My mother encouraged me to get an M.R.S. degree and was astonished when I abruptly broke up with my long term college boyfriend a few months shy of college graduation.
I didn’t get married until my mother started calling my cat her grand-cat. But once I did marry and have children, I quit my lucrative career, and hid my intellect again. Looking back, I can’t believe I did this. The only thing I can attribute it to is that I fell in love with my family.
Now that I am on my own again, I love staying up all night reading philosophy, or learning anything new. I love working and starting companies and nonprofits that can change the world.
My children are so much like me that this truly is the new normal. I encourage each of them to shine as brightly as they can. There are no secrets. The children tell everyone my embarrassing stories, and they take countless photos of me, eating, or sleeping, or driving, and post them on Snapchat.
I don’t care.
I am as much as I possibly can be, my truest, brightest, most authentic self.
Love and blessings.