There were a bevy of personalities I felt that if they were in my life or contributed in a significant way, I would have become a very different person. While I don’t outwardly regret who I have become up to this point, I am riddled with… “what if’s”. Most often when I am aware of our interactions with Athena. The way E and I care for her and invest in the future her. I wonder if anyone in my life had taken THAT level of interest, who would I be today?
I’m here at her swim class and I noticed one of the younger girls in a different lane who had on what I thought was the same scuba suit Athena had on. Then I glanced at the lane where Athena was swimming and realized… no… that was actually 3 scuba suits ago. Then I had a thought of creating a scuba suit exchange to help parents save money. Then I thought about a cool shadowbox idea where I could lay one swimsuit on top of the next showing the progression. THEN it dawned on me that we have been investing in scuba suits for her since she was 3.
That. And dance. And reading classes. And kids college. And piano. And karate. And soccer. And I’m sure the list will continue well into her baccalaureate years if God wills us to still be here with her. What was I doing at 3? None of the above. Figuring it out for myself. Finding things to do to stay quiet. Reading the yellow pages when I’d read all the books I had enough. Then my parents got us encyclopedias when I started to ask too many questions. And then a library card. Dad taught me piano. I begged for dance and basketball but was denied. Leaned on my brother to teach me what he learned in his grade because what they were teaching in my classes bored me. Having basically no one really try to harness any talents I displayed naturally. I can call them all out now but am not sure I’m at the point of “cultivating” them still. Maybe I feel like I’m the “old dog” at this point. It isn’t lost on me that my parents were immigrants and feeling their own way around a new country and being black people truly did not ease the path. How could they focus on me more than they already had by coming to America to give me a better chance? Maybe the chance is generational and as a result Athena’s “chance” is now exponentially greater than mine or theirs may have ever been.
And all we do as parents is present Athena to the activities that she expresses interest in and let the teachers come back to us in a few weeks in amazement. Recommending she get private lessons because the “group thing” is holding her back or encouraging us to continue with her on her path because she is way advanced and needs this to propel her forward.
I joke with other parents sometimes and say Athena has raised herself really and we haven’t contributed all that much. She just shows up with greatness. But… what we have done is be the person we thought we could have used in our youth.
Someone who LISTENED to us instead of tell us everything we had to do. Someone who said …. hey – you have great potential in that. Let me help you grow that skill. Or- you’re really smart you could get really far in these disciplines. Someone who just believed that you could be MORE. Maybe it’s made all the difference.