From my view my mom was always a grown-up. One who woke me up, put me to sleep, and spent the intervening time giving me mac-n-cheese and hugs. I never pictured her as a kid because I never saw her as a kid. When I was young I thought my mom only existed from the time I was born onward. Maybe I was busy running around being a “bull in a china closet” or maybe kids just don’t think of things like that. Regardless, the recent realization that she was once a kid shocked the hell out of me.
When someone tells you they grew up in New York City, what do you think?
What if they say they like country music?
Say they’re vegan?
What if they say they have 5 sisters?
When you hear things like that you get a picture. Someone who grew up in New York must be able to sleep well through noise, like pizza, and be good at navigating a public transportation system. Things about them start to make sense. “That’s why you’re always laying on the horn in traffic!” or “that’s why you show up with a flannel tucked into Levi’s when we say ‘business casual’.” You begin to realize that people think and act a certain way because of their experiences. This is all kind of common knowledge, but when I asked myself why my mom said or did certain things I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t know “where she was from” in a way. I had never asked.
This was more shocking when I realized how incredibly influenced the childhood of my children will be because of the life I’ve had before them. Everything from running around in the dirt of a small town when I was a kid, to running around Olympic stadiums. Influences in my life they’ll never see.
All of us have experiences. And every single one of us has a life full of experiences with all the adjectives; good, bad, fun, sad, boring, awesome, painful, sweet, interesting, etc. A person who tells you otherwise is not a resident of humanity; it is human to experience all of them. Roslyn Eaton was 22 when she gave birth to me. Before then she had a childhood and experiences I never bothered to ask about. Those things influenced how she raised me.
We gave a TEDx talk to explain.