10.27.2010

Channeling Talia...


I think about the "formula" (if there even is one) for raising curious, creative, interesting kids pretty much non-stop.

Obviously there's a huge “nature” component to who we ultimately become, but I try to supplement it with an awfully hefty dose of nurture, while at the same time bracing myself for the fact that despite all my efforts to the contrary, it's altogether possible that one of the girlies might decide to become a CPA. (Not that there's anything wrong in theory with CPAs...we need them...they're important…)

My "nurture" strategy includes lots of classes for the girls (ballet and art and French) and lots of experiences (museums and theater and live music) and as much travel as we can afford, but what I often overlook is the formative impact on them of what I’m doing/how I spend my free time.

I heard Terry Gross's Fresh Air interview with Jason Schwartzman while I was driving to lunch last week and was totally struck by how he describes the environment that his mother (the actress Talia Shire) created in their home, specifically this:

"But, at a young age, what I really did witness, because she never forced it upon us, but I witnessed how movies and music can be nutritional, I guess, to a person. I would come home from school; she would always be downstairs with an old movie on. Every room in our house had a different book open, face down. There would be music on in one room, even though she wouldn't be in it, and she would kind of just go from room to room and pick up and read and go and listen and go downstairs and watch. She needs that. It's still the same way. If you go to my house, the same house I grew up in, she's there with movies on, music playing and books everywhere. And so I witnessed how important these things can be to you."

After hearing Schwartzman recount that specific memory, I had to pull over so I could jot a little note to myself… Here’s what it said:

the type of mother I want to be...”walk the walk"

Schwartzman doesn't mention a mother that signed him up for a back-to-back roster of classes, helming an endless carpool circuit from one enriching creative activity to another. Rather what seemed to have (at least partially) formed him as a creative being is what he "witnessed" his mother doing (or rather living) -- her love of cinema and books and music…her passions.

This is hugely important don’t you think? This "walking the walk", this showing your kids that you value art or literature or theater or creative pursuits, not because you get them to participate, but because you do them yourself.

I have to admit it feels selfish when I do things simply because I love to do them. If I have a few moments of free time (rarely), I feel guilty (especially as a working mother, but I know my SAHM friends struggle with this as well)…like I need to be doing flash cards with Millie or drawing with Audrey or taking them on a nature walk, or you know…making them into "super-kids".

But I don’t think it has to be that complicated. My girls mimic me and Bryan incessantly. If we're reading, they read. If I'm cooking, they want to cook, if Bryan pulls out his guitar, they want to play instruments. It's incredible (and scary) how much our actions influence what they want to spend their time doing...and I know this phenomenon might not last, that we have a sort of finite period to imprint our habits and pastimes onto their little forming psyches.

So I’m going to try and channel Talia a little bit more. We’ll see how it goes.

56 comments:

Chelsea said...

I love, love, love this.

Ana Degenaar said...

You are so right! those things matter. Emma does the same with us, she is only 2 and she sits on the floor and jams with her dad, it is scary. I danced ballet and flamenco until I was 16 and it took me that long to realize I didn't like it. I wish Emma doesn't follow our steps thinking that it will make us happy. I just really want her to find something that makes HER happy.

Janette Crawford said...

Beautiful.

amanda {the habit of being} said...

i love this. so very important to not only foster their creativity, but to keep it alive as they grow older and out of the imaginative play stage.

Little Bean Shop said...

well said my love. See? This is what I am talking about! From the heart...what you are passionate about. again..well said! xoxo

*sarah berry design* said...

I really love how you think, I'm not a mother yet but I have similar thoughts; it's important to me to raise engaged, interesting people when I do have children and I think a big part of that is being an engaged and (hopefully) interesting person. It was very much a part of my choosing to start my own company and do what I truly love, I hope that it will inspire any children I one day have to beat their own path and blaze a bit of a trail on their own too. fabulous post, thank you.

clk said...

Lovely post. Thank you, thank you.

nadya said...

Yes, lovely! Wasn't that a great interview?

kitichka said...

this type of posts is what makes your blog different, insightful, such a pleasure to read and enjoy compare to many in the web. thank you!

Angie said...

Fantastic post and so true. I am inspired the walk the walk now too.

b said...

precisely the reason i keep reading your blog. always something insightful & unique amongst the beloved fashion, interiors, food...etc blogs that i read. you seem to encompass all parts of my favorite blogs into one little spot! love.

JWK said...

Wow. That one hit home. Thanks for a lovely post and much-needed reminder!

Lovin That! said...

I'm so inspired! Thank-you so much for posting this. I am also a working mom who feels constant guilt but I do believe this to be true that it's not so much what you do with kids but who you are that has the most impact. Freakanomics wrote a similar finding to this.

I adore your blog, thanks for sharing!

Lindsey said...

well said!

celinejn said...

wow. thank you SO MUCH for sharing this! i love jason schwartzman's words, and your translation into the perfect mantra.

my parenting goals are quite similar to yours (and my girls are the exact same age), so this is more meaningful than anything i've read in ages.

thanks again.

Plan and Play said...

This is a sweet, sweet post. I could not agree with you more!

Elena

http://planandplay1.blogspot.com/

amusehome said...

Amen to that sister!

curiouscovetous said...

I'm not a mom yet, but I do work with kids and I couldn't agree more! They really do "do as you do".

r's adventures said...

such a great post. and i second what 'b' said, your blog is such a wonderful mix of the good + interesting bits of life!x

Pretty Mommy said...

So much food for thought!!
First, I love the idea that indulging your passions = great parenting (also reading this makes me feel less guilty about cuddling up with my 3 yr old and watching old movies...who knew that her early exposure to Singin in the Rain was feeding her creative fires ;) )
Second, it got me thinking about how she sees me spending "free time" (is that a real thing?) Um...that would be tapping on my computer & blackberry - must change that asap...
Third, whenever we have a "museum/art day" I always secretly feel like I'm "channeling Joslyn" - so not only are you nurturing your girls in real life but other parents through your lovely blog...xoxo

Simply Mel said...

one thing is for sure, the crumb will either grow up to love cooking, or she will live in a hotel suite with no kitchen and constantly order room-service. j/k

i continue to read this post over and over because I love it so ~ you are so right, all those 'scheduled activities' are good, but our actions/habits/hobbies/interests are what shape them most. I'm definitely going to indulge my passions more {for my sake and for the crumb's sake).

Kim in the Cove said...

I'm still laughing at the CPA comment - but seriously this is so right! We're defining "normal" and "possible" for our kids and each will be whatever we demonstrate for them.

lilla.u said...

So, so true ...

Ann said...

great post. thanks.

Ashley said...

I love this post, Joslyn!

nkp said...

Scary...so true, so true. A constant struggle for most parents I believe, for me anyway. That was beautifully said and I love the quote. Definitely something to think about. And secretly, I love that you stopped to write that down. I am an incessant listmaker myself and can so relate. :0)

About Last Weekend said...

Yes, you're so right and beautifully said. Though truthfully none of my kids love reading and dancing like I do. But they love sports and make videos of their performances and skits and I am such a luddite . Then one day they start encouraging you... The other day Cy,six, said "You don't go to your dancing every day like you used to. You have to get back to your dancing. Mum."

Lakshmi said...

I have no children and so maybe I am no way qualified to comment. But I do work with kids a lot and I have to say this.

Let them be. While it's good to take them to museums and theaters, every once in a while, it'd be great to let them simply hang out with you. Without a plan or an agenda... let them bask in your presence, just spend time with you.

My fondest memories growing up include Sunday mornings - Mom in the kitchen, Dad reading the newspapers, lots of coffee, hot breakfast, chatting, discussions... wonderful times.

Lucy said...

I think sometimes you just have to live life and not over analyze how you are parenting and whether or not you are raising creative children. Every child is going to grow up to become their own person. I think the goal should be not to form them into something that you are dreaming them to be but to help them to discover who THEY are meant to be. Just let them be kids, give them independence, and they will turn out to be more awesome than you ever imagined.

Summar Money said...

oh i love this.

the house i grew up had in-progress projects tucked in every corner. my mother was always working on something. i hope to give my son that same gift of creativity.

thanks for inspiring. i'm pulling out my sewing machine now.

Elissa said...

this is an awesome post. i don't have any kids and don't plan on it for awhile, but i love to hear about others approaches to parenting and how they incorporate what they love into their day to day post-baby. it sounds like you're doing a great job and i'm sure your girlies know what an awesome mom they have!

Torrie said...

This post makes me feel GOOD... to put it simply. In NO way are we perfect parents, yet I believe that due to the fact that Ryan and I both grew up with single mothers who really didn't have the time to intentionally "nourish" us, we clung to the little moments of watching our mothers do what they needed to do to work, support a family on their very own, to *squeeze in moments of passion, fun, adventure, learning.

...my mom blasting ALL types of music while she cleaned the house...a CONSTANT movie to be watched- from an old classic to Conan to Stephen King (yeah, not really a "filter" for my young eyes- I guess she figured that I could just close my eyes!)...

I could go on and on, but I thought I'd share a recent post, which interestingly highlights both aspects of her "intentionally nurturing" and unintentionally... and the affect it had.

http://torriesessions.blogspot.com/2010/10/happy-birthday-mom.html

I always wonder if "letting our kids be" (with activities splattered in" is enough... if we should TRY harder, sign them up for more... but I think we're doing just fine:).

elizabeth said...

I had to comment and say what a great post. I don't have any kids yet, but these things are always important to think about and remember. I appreciate this post so much, and just wanted to say thanks for sharing!

Sarah Bradley said...

What a great post. I'm going to share this with all my friends and sisters who are mothers.

krista said...

thank you for this. this reminder that being myself and actively doing what i love is, actually, the best thing i can do for my daughter. that being myself is enough.

Joslyn said...

Lakshmi and Lucy -- wise words for sure!

I do think letting kids explore and dream and be bored is one of the most important things we can do for them.

It's so hard not to try and channel our own goals onto them, isn't it?

Lil said...

I love this post - you have summed up my parenting philosophy perfectly!

molly ruth said...

you are a fabulous writer who speaks from the heart. thank you-i needed to hear this. i'm bookmarking this post as one of my favorites and if i start to question or second guess myself as a mother i'm rereading your thoughts.

Joanna Goddard said...

this is wonderful -- i love this post so much. such wise words. xo

nichole said...

I could not agree with you more. A wonderful post!

caroline duke said...

i loved that interview and also thought a lot about what he said about his mother, especially that part that you have excerpted.

i wish everyone gave motherhood as much thought as you... it's a scary world out there!

deb said...

here via amanda at the habit of being..
I so agree.. my children are older now. 12-21 and I'd like to think that I tried to do this as much as possible.

I still like to make trips to the library to get picture books and animal books and random magazines and leave them out . Imagination and inspiration comes from many places.

the-kitchenette.com said...

I know it's a joke and all, but after reading this, I just had to point out:

As a female CPA who also runs a food blog, has done last-minute wedding updos for a panicky bride and her crew of 6 bridesmaids, and is learning to sew, I think it's entirely possible to be quite creative and still have a ridiculously impressive and useful 3-letter acronym after your name.

After all, what does CPA mean? It means you had the dedication to study for a freakishly hard 4-part exam, and you PASSED. I'd be very proud of my kids if they did that.

I one-hundred-percent agree with you on "walking the walk" for my as-yet-unconceived children. I just want them to enjoy their life, and not to feel hindered by the decisions my husband and I make for their lives.

Croatian_Latina said...

I love your post. I couldn't agree with you more. When I'm reading a book, I feel guilty because I feel I should be engaging with my 2 year old daughter every single moment. One activity I always try to involve her in is cooking. Sometimes I make some dough from scratch and while she is making 'tortillas' on the counter she is keeping me company and seeing and smelling the aromas of what I'm preparing for lunch/dinner.

Thank you so much for sharing these wise words. I will have to also write them down.

Have a wonderful weekend, glad I stopped by.

dreamday said...

i love the message you are sharing and even more the way it came to you...

Manu said...

What a great post, I'll remember this when I have kids. Thank you!

The Slick Mom said...

This inspired me as well. There's so many times when I feel I need to "do" something to stimulate my child's mind. I fear the new technology may interfere with Talia's way. The last 4 books I bought were on my kindle. hmmm. I may need to get some more hardbacks in the house.

Meg and Dan said...

I am not a CPA, but I am a tax attorney. I am also an accomplished ballet dancer and I am not half bad at the visual arts. I still sing in the shower. I still approach life with a sense of whimsy and marvel at all of the beauty in the world. I strive to contribute to society and find ways to brighten someone's day. So if your child becomes a CPA or a lawyer, all is not lost. He or she will still have something special to offer the world.

redmenace said...

I am just about to enter the cult of motherhood and I could not be more scared (+ elated). Thank you for your thoughts. I like it. Walk the walk. Will do my best. I suppose that's all I can hope for? xoxo

marta said...

oooh, thank you so much for posting this. i found you via cup of jo. excited to browse your blog. and i really needed this, thank you.

Lisa said...

Wonderful post! I'm not a mom, but as a daughter looking back at how my parents raised me and my brother, they totally walked the walk! Even now, especially my mom, she's always doing something new, taking a new class, joining a book club, a writing club, going to lectures. She's a constant inspiration. And lucky me, I get to hang out with her! : )

Ellie Balfe said...

I'm adding my voice too! Beautiful words and so inspiring for a new Mum such as me who feels she is muddling along somewhat and never quite sure if I'm getting it right, almost right or completely wrong! Thanks for your wisdom...

TheBeautyFile said...

I love this post so much. I just had my first child and I want to remember these lessons forever and ever!

all you need is love said...

this post makes me miss my mom.

It's All Good said...

I don't have kids, but this makes me want to walk the walk from now! When cleaning up after I graduated college, my friends told me to just throw everything out, but no! Why would I? I have such great photos from photography class and prints from printmaking, I want my children to dig all of this out from the back of the junk closet years and years and years from now and say "wow, mom was pretty cool, eh?" Great post!

Lea Antonio said...

WOW, my friend Nikki said she thought of me when she read this post, and after reading it too, I realize what a great compliment she had given me.

A wonderful post that inspires and energizes :) I'm bookmarking this so I can re-read it whenever I start second-guessing my mommy-ness.