On any given day, someone in our house is showing off their latest dance moves, practicing drum lessons on the back of a bedroom door or reciting dialogue from musical theater class.
It's clear without knowing much else about our family that we value music and the performing arts in our lives and for our children. In fact, each of the kids in our blended household has separately been enrolled in music and dance lessons since shortly after they were able to walk.
We value live theater and music performances, too, and make it a point to take our kids to at least one show each year. And, thanks to my husband's wonderfully eclectic taste in music, our children are exposed to more musical genres than I can count.
Music was the identity I clung to growing up. However, today I wrestle with the paradox that while I help oversee a collegiate performing arts program as part of my professional role, I have almost totally lost my ear for harmony and struggle to sight read music.
Recently, as I sat with my son for his piano lesson, I had a feeling of envy as I watched his knowledge and proficiency grow in an art form I gave up a long time ago. It made me wonder, "Why not pick it up again?"
The answer to "why not" in my case is simple. I was terrible at the piano. And my experience taking lessons in elementary school was pretty miserable. For many years, the very thought of sitting down at the keys made me feel hot and itchy, as though I was allergic to the notes or the church organist trying to teach me. My reluctant parents allowed me to abandon the keys and lean into vocal music instead. But now, as an adult, there is a part of me that regrets not being able to sit at the piano and play a familiar tune.
So this year, I will take up the piano again. I look forward to practicing and finally learning major and minor chords. I'm hoping to wake up the part of my brain that used to sight read music notes. But even more than reclaiming a part of my identity, I hope that, as I practice plunking out the notes to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," our kids also see that you don't have to stop learning as an adult.
And that is the real lesson in this for all of us. As parents, we intentionally spend a lot of time and finances to support our children's growth and pursuits, but we often forget to steward our own. So this year, what will you pursue? Do you want to take tap dance lessons? Learn to ride horses? Pick up martial arts?
Whatever this is for you, let this year be the year you commit to growing. And as you listen to and watch your children thrive in their passions, my hope is that you will be inspired to pursue your own.
Jessica Janssen Wolford is a mom and stepmom raising three kiddos with her husband, Eric, in Elkhorn. You can read more about her experiences on her blog, “A Step in the Right Direction.” You can also follow her on Instragram at @jessicaljanssenwolford.