If I can be vulnerable with you, much of my childhood was an epic bummer.
I haven’t opened up on my blog about parenting my inner child, but much of the work I have been doing personally (and with the Lord) these past few months, has centered around evaluating the violations within my childhood.
In some respects, the word violation sounds worse than it was. In other situations, the word violation doesn’t scratch the surface of the pain I’ve endured. Regardless, these experiences have shaped me.
And, while I am reckoning that being a child was hard and hurtful, I have grown to be thankful for my resiliency. I have found power in placing less weight on the tallies marked against my optimistic worldview and thriving adulthood.
I’ve also grown to be grateful for some of the ways my parents showed up for my childhood. The list is about 25 items in length (and growing), but today I’m going to talk about the big things my parents did that helped form me.
1. They let me be imaginative.
I loved nothing more than creating fantasy lands with my siblings. Our imagination was deeply encouraged, even well into high school. Be it playing a game of “abandoned” which was glorified “House,” or writing novels around characters in make-believe worlds; my parents encouraged me to look at the world through the lens of dreams and possibilities.
2. They made me be outside.
As a child, and I think this rings true for all of my siblings, there was nothing more terrible than family road trips to the god-forsaken National Parks. I don’t even know how many National Parks I’ve been drug around. Forced to look at cacti and sweatily walk around meadows and be afraid of grizzly bears. But as I grew, I found that my wilderness ethic, or the way in which I interact with wild lands, was a huge part of my belief system. It was where I saw, on a very intimate level, the heart of God working in all things, through all things, for the good of all things.
3. They let me see the world.
Not through a TV or with rubber gloves or behind a mask. My parents let me look at the hardest parts of the world. Never was anything sugar-coated for us. I always knew that the world was an unfair place and I was privileged beyond comprehension to grow and learn and experience the things I did. My opportunities were outliers, and instead of shielding me from that truth, my parents supported me in my adventurous spirit and my drive to understand those different from me.
4. They are still my parents.
While their roles have shifted and changed significantly, I have recently realized that all of my parents (step-parents included) believe in my judgment, support my dreams, and still show up in small ways as my parents. They buy me books and indulge me in my love for adventure. None of them are perfect. None of them are without fault. None of them have a slate that hasn’t been marked up a few times, but they still do the best they can for us kids.
So all of this has inspired me to look at what I want for my future (very.distant.future.) children- and I keep coming back to these hopes:
I want to raise tiny humans to ask tough, insightful questions and don’t accept the first answer given. I want to inspire them to investigate and create and lean into every aspect of their being: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I want to show them how to have support outside of their parents; to show them the artistry and importance of friendship; how to engage in other worldviews respectfully. I want them to be influenced by more people who humbly ask to understand. I want to raise believers.
And when I say I want to raise believers, what I mean is that I deeply hope to raise-up children who believe in their perceptions and their choices.
But most of all, I want to raise thoughtful, thought-filled humans,
Just like my parents did.