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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Finding Something to Love

This has been a good weekend for our girls. Both of them, it seems, have found things that they love, and I mean REALLY love to do. This after many years of poking around, experimenting, casting about, trying this and that.

The older girl, starting at around age three, has participated in gymnastics, art, violin, Japanese taiko drumming, ice skating, acting, hip-hop dance, swimming, water polo. If you asked her how she liked one or the other thing, she'd say, "Okay," or "Pretty good." But after a semester or a year or a ten-week class, she wouldn't be anxious to continue, to move to the next level. She saw her friends getting intensely involved in their sports or their art, and it made her feel sad that she hadn't really found her thing, her thing to be obsessed with, the thing that made her feel super alive.

Well, she's found it. By pure chance she stumbled upon a crew team that has engaged her and involved her like nothing else ever has. She is obsessed with crew. She's found a place on the coveted "A" boat, she works out brutally hard six days a week, she's made new friends and come to love the beauty and power of eight girls doing exactly the same thing at the same time, over and over again. She doesn't mind getting up at the crack of dawn, or rowing in the sleety rain. She loves absolutely everything about it, and it is a joy to see. I don't know how long it will last. But in the months since she's been rowing, she's never once said it was "Okay" or "pretty good." She LOVES crew, and I am so happy for her.

The little one, now 11, has been similarly "eh" about the things we've tried for her: a very brief stint of kiddie gymnastics, then ballet, then ice skating, art, soccer and guitar. She did them all willingly, SORT of, but they weren't things she particularly looked forward to. Then came this Young Actors' Workshop, and to our total astonishment (she can be extremely shy about doing anything in front of other people) she said she wanted to sign up. Maybe because some of her friends were doing it. But she has gone to 15+ hours of rehearsal every week, and loved every minute. Her role in "Pride & Prejudice" is a small one, but she threw herself into it. We got to watch her perform last night and it was truly something to behold. Our shy girl! And not only that, but she declared Opening Night the "best night of my life."

I didn't find my Thing until I was twenty nine years old and took my first writing class. I knew I liked to write, and I loved to read, but I never felt brave enough to say "I want to do this," until I was pregnant for the first time. I took a writing class for pregnant mothers and those first exploratory writing exercises totally hooked me. Then I started taking more classes, and more, until I realized I wanted to get my MFA and really take that leap, to say I am a writer.

Our girls may not end up being an Olympic rower or a Broadway actor, but I am glad that they have found a taste of what it feels like to really, really love something, something to sacrifice for and dream about and truly engage with. I'm glad for them both.


Blogger Bustopher Jones said...

What a great feeling that must be for all of you! And how lucky they are to have parents who have worked so hard to help them find their passions.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 1:41:00 PM

Blogger Lilian said...

Beautiful post! My boys are still very young, but I'm looking forward to the day they will find their passions (and of course I'm very curious to find out what those will be!).

Sunday, March 26, 2006 2:05:00 PM

Blogger C(h)ristine said...

How lucky you all are!

btw, I hope you are feeling better from the flu.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 10:10:00 PM

Blogger melanie said...

How wonderful! And what a great mom you are to encourage them to try everything, and to support them in all their efforts.

Monday, March 27, 2006 10:12:00 AM

Anonymous wendy said...

I found this story of both girls' passions truly amazing. I have a friend whose sons both developed passions in high school, dan got finally really immersed in the drama dept and Michael became and stayed a rowing maniac, all consuming. Molly looks so gorgeous and Emma's words about 'the best night of my life' are beyond sweet, are amazing. I don't know how you and John did this, hard work but maybe two parent families actually do make it easier for kids to get what they love.

My kid is far from this 'fascination' but she is only 20 ish and susan I too woke up to my passion relatively late in life, even tho my dad always said, find one thing you love and do it and that will make all the difference. But I never did in high school.

In long, one night in my freshman year in college, or maybe my sophmore, all the kids in my dorm were watching the elections, Kennedy vs Nixon. I was always interested in politics but not interested in TV. That particular night I had to write a paper about T.S. Eliot and for the first time, I was so immersed I didn't care about watching who won but was a first, EASILY decoding "The Wasteland" and that was the night that I felt drawn to literature and drawn to learning and that semester I got straight A's and knew I had to major in English literature.

all to say: I'm thrilled to see the girls and thrilled to here of finally you and they finding their 'thing.' but I also think the passion can arise later in life, and whenever it comes, it's the gift, the greatest gift, immersion in something that feels so important. thanks for sharing susan. I'll only add:

As a biologically Jewish person I so admire your ability to announce such happy news. Most of us who are Jewish are always afraid of the 'evil eye' tho it's absurd, when things are finally in place, why not crow about it? just a thoughtlet. love susan and agree with others, you guys did something so right, and here you are, happy and here Mol and Em are, engaged, that's the ticket!!! love wendy

Monday, March 27, 2006 8:04:00 PM

Blogger Susan said...

Wendy and everyone, thanks for the good thoughts. A very interesting comment on the "evil eye" which I never really knew about. I think it's OK for me to announce happiness re my kids, but much harder for myself. I'm sitting on some happy news that I think I will share eventually, but it's a LOT harder!

Monday, March 27, 2006 8:46:00 PM

Blogger Onigiriman said...

a couple of my students were on crew--both womens crew--and they had some crazy ass hours. They were practicing on the freezing Potomac at 6 in the morning! You gotta really love, as i see it...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 11:50:00 PM

Blogger C(h)ristine said...

oh yes, i am so scared of that "evil eye" too--we have something like that in Korean culture...and also, since I am now Jewish too, it's a doubly ominous presence! it's very hard for me to say things are very good. (and i so agree with the Jewish tradition of not having a baby shower, even, before the child is born).

Friday, March 31, 2006 8:34:00 AM

Blogger C(h)ristine said...

oh but--this doesn't mean i don't think it's right to advertise happiness--i think it's totally GREAT!

Friday, March 31, 2006 8:42:00 AM


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