I was born and grew up in the city of London. Right in the centre as far away from rural as you can get.
But all of our childhood holidays were spent in the countryside, so I was aware of these two contrasting worlds. And it didn’t take
much growing up for me to recognise from a hunger within which of these two environments was right for my soul. I soon understood that my spirits wilted when surrounded by concrete, buildings, noise and crowds without a glimpse of rural space to rest my eyes on. Yet the surroundings of greenery, fields and solitary quiet gave my spirits wings and a sense of relief I still require to thrive.
Even though I live in the countryside now and these things are common place I still experience the sudden sense of imprisonment, when shut inside too long or under laptop. Hence why I can often be found scribbling in the shelter of a hedge bottom with my bum in damp grass, or on my daily walk (as you see from Instagram). I’m just letting my spirits heal from the onslaught of contemporary life.
Of course not everyone feels this. Or feels it this way round. Ironically my eldest is the complete opposite.
We made many, many excursions into cities whilst we were home educating here in the country. And as her teen years kicked in I began to realise that, unlike me, it was the city that made her spirits come alive.
I can clearly remember the time when I suddenly spotted, with shock and empathy, that familiar look on her face one day that described that same feeling I’d had when I was stuck somewhere that did nothing for my spirits.
In contrast to me, she needed the city for hers. And that’s where she’s lived since Uni.
That is not to say she doesn’t relish her trips home and the rural things we do like picnics and walks and encounters with wildlife and flowers. And when I’m visiting her we often find park walks to do from the city.
But we both know and accept what we each are, what each needs to thrive, and that those needs are completely different from the other.
It is SO important, I think, to know and accept that our children are NOT us. And allow them to be different. Allow them to be separate.
Allowing our children to be who they need to be, without judgement, and loving them for who they are without conditions, is a fundamental ingredient to being the parent we should be, a parent that all kids need. And inevitably one of the hardest parts!
But we get over it.
The most wonderful result, though, is that from that respect and loving acceptance the relationship can grow stronger despite the independence.
Independence means allowing our children to be who they need to be and loving them just the same – allowing their independence from us, and consequently practising our own independence from trying to keep them like us.
In fact, this is true of all relationships.
So love your children the way they are and in such a way which affords them the opportunity to discover who they need to be, whatever age they are, wherever that is. And make sure you’re not hanging onto keeping them like you.