I have overheard an expression regarding a sphere of someone’s interests: “being pulled into a new orbit,” which I think is a near-perfect analogy of how our children expand our horizons. It resonated with my own experience, and I was compelled to draw this cartoon to illustrate it.
The analogy goes like this: when you don’t have children, you have a familiar sphere of interests, which develops under various influences throughout your life. If you were a planet, this would be your personal orbit, shaped by your parents, friends, teachers, and other “celestial bodies”.
Then, a major cosmic event occurs, and you have a child. Paraphrasing Neil Armstrong, it might be a small step for mankind, but a giant leap for a man (or a woman).
At first, this child is like your satellite. Her life revolves around yours. But as she grows, her interests and inclinations shape what you are interested in as well. You are being pulled out of your orbit. This implies a certain level of instability, so it can feel unnerving and uncomfortable. But even if you don’t settle into a new (wider and more exciting) orbit and instead get slingshot into the space, think about the alternative – going around and around along a familiar path year after year. So have no worries and enjoy the ride. Maybe that is the reason we have kids – so they can shake our universe apart.
Here is my personal example. I studied art as a child, and have been painting occasionally in my adult years, in addition to doing photography. I think that might have affected my daughter’s early interest in art. Now, next to her, my own sphere of artistic interests is expanding. We now sketch and paint together regularly, and I even took a sculpture class last fall – my first art class since the high-school years. Isn’t it wild? I think it is.