My younger daughter’s pre-school teacher told me at one afternoon pickup, early in the school year, that she had asked my daughter if I worked. My then-four-year-old promptly had answered:
“Oh, no. My mom doesn’t work. She’s Mommy. She just writes plays.”
I laughed. I liked that my girl saw my being her mommy as my main ‘job’ — because it absolutely is, first and foremost. And I’m grateful to my husband that I don’t need to work for financial reasons.
But it was also interesting that my daughter didn’t see my creative writing or speaking work as work, like Daddy’s ‘work’. And while that bothered me at first, I eventually decided I liked her response.
Because my writing is not work, or a burden, or a requirement. It is a passion I am blessed to choose with joy. And my girls need to see that such joy in their ‘work’ is possible.
Even when the writing/creative work doesn’t always bring joy, it is still my thing. And every woman needs to have something that is ‘her thing.’
My daughters have seen some of my plays (not the most ‘grown-up’ ones, they know to say), and they have even appeared in a couple of them. They’ve seen me speak about my work in public. They know all of it as being something I love to do and must do. But they now see that it takes time and effort, just like any other ‘work’ would.
Sometimes I tell them about my stories; sometimes I tell them that they’ll find out when they’re older. Just like I ask them about what excites them, they do the same to me.
My parents were so dedicated to us growing up, they deferred many of their own dreams, until later in retirement, and I’m so proud to see them pursuing those dreams more now (see my mother’s new cookbook, www.armenianvegan.com and my father’s new sacred music composition, www.kirazianbadarak.com). But it was a huge sacrifice for them, all those years.
Because today’s girls belong to a new and challenging generation, I want our daughters to see me doing three things — AFTER putting them first and spending quality, focused time with them on their interests, of course.
I then want them to see me:
1. Pursuing creative projects with passion. When they see me getting excited about writing a new play or book, or directing a new production, they get excited too. I involve them, ask for their ideas on titles or characters’ names, get their input. As a result, they feel free to pursue their own projects — drawing, creating board games, writing stories, making crafts. They need to see there is no limit to what they can do.
2. Getting involved in my community. When I have my ‘committee ladies’ over for a meeting to stuff envelopes or assemble event bags, the girls jump right in. They love helping. And later, when I tell them that those simple tasks helped raise money for orphan girls or struggling moms in Armenia, their hearts swell — I can see the pride in their faces. When they see that they can make a difference, they are even more willing to serve their community, and the community will need them, in years to come.
3. Being a leader. The girls see me serving in local and national leadership positions among cultural, arts and faith-based organizations — so that none of these things will ever seem foreign or unattainable to them when they grow up. They can do anything they set their mind to, with hard work and intelligence, faith and humility. And when I watch them in their school and playdate settings, or on their sports/dance teams, I already see them gently leading others with bold ideas, encouragement and compassion, in their own eight-year old and five-year old ways. They have no idea how much they inspire me with their example.
My calling is to love our girls with an everlasting love, which God has given me; my job is to equip them with wisdom, experience and skills; and my long-term strategy is to involve them in the bigger things of life, so that they will dream and do even bigger, greater things when they reach adulthood.
It’s the best “work” in the world.