Every once in a while I am struck by how differently my kids are growing up from the childhood I experienced. I was born and raised in Northern California, the fourth of five kids, in a time when your mom said to go outside to play, and you weren’t called back in until dinner. When I was seven, my dad died and my stay-at-home mom had no choice but to join the work force. My seventy-something grandmother moved in to help out, but she soon took more looking after than we did, due to increasing health issues. In the last few of years of her life, she had to be fed through a tube in her stomach. I’ll spare you the details, as it was usually my older sister (by all of 3 years) who had to feed her, but suffice to say it was kind of disturbing.
Fast forward to my kids, and although it comes with a cost, I have usually been able to remain a stay-at-home mom. Over the years I’ve taken several jobs outside, but when you add in the cost of childcare, it has rarely been worth the tradeoff of not being able to pursue my writing and/or being there for my kids. Sure money is a constant concern, and the reality is that my kids can’t always have everything that their friends have. However, I am able to teach them to aim high, and to pursue their dreams. At the same time, they are learning that in order to do so it takes perseverance.
Because we are living in Los Angeles, they are exposed to things that I never was. Both of my girls are going to schools that support the arts. I don’t know that either of them will pursue a career in entertainment (although I have suspicions about at least one), but regardless, they are encouraged to express themselves in ways I never was.
On Monday, my younger daughter and I went into my friend Laura’s studio where she and her friend Ruthie (Laura’s daughter) recorded several songs from the musical Laura and I wrote, “Room to Grow”. It was amazing to watch and listen as these kids confidently ran through each song, were asked to make an occasional minor adjustment, and then nailed it. It was sooo not the world I grew up in!