Growing up, I was NOT the kid who babysat (willingly) or looked at baby dolls and immediately felt the urge to pamper and nurture them. Oh, I had baby dolls, but I treated them more as my friends. I would dress them cute, brush their hair and then set them up on our piano bench in the living room as the audience for whatever performance I was going to put on, or they acted as my students as I played school.
Growing up as children, my sister and I went on vacations, had huge Christmases, EACH got to bring a friend EVERYWHERE we went (including out to dinner and on special trips) and lived in one of those households where we got whatever we wanted for dinner – even if it wasn’t what anybody else was eating. (Read: my parents would cook 3 different meals some nights.)
Even through high school and college, (both requiring tuition and both funded by my parents), even as my appreciation for their sacrifice grew enormously, I still never wanted to do the whole parenting gig.
I looked at my parents – who both worked full-time, long hours, still asked us about our day after a long day working, kept a clean house, allowed us to participate in whatever activities we wanted and saved scrupulously for the above-mentioned luxuries – and always thought, “That seems like a lot of work.”
By the time Quinn was born, (a completely planned baby), I had decided I maybe might sort of possibly could see myself as a mom. Maybe. In other words, I wasn’t entirely sure, but I didn’t want to regret it either. A friend once told me that the decision to have a baby was “just a decision to love someone.” For some reason, put that simply, I couldn’t NOT do it. I loved loving people!
I recently read a book, recommended by my sister, called “A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy.” It is the story of Sue Klebold – the mother of Dylan Klebold, known for his role as one of two shooters in the Columbine Massacre. In her book, Sue painstakingly describes the absolute, complete SHOCK that her little boy could EVER do something so heinous. Dylan had shown no signs. She and her husband, happily married, had been attentive, involved and open with their son. How, she repeatedly asks, could he DO THIS?
I think that is the aspect of mothering that so scared me. My parents had done, by most people’s standards, everything right. They had set my sister and me up on a path that *should* lead to success. But there were any number of times that either of us could have chosen something that would have completely diverted their efforts. At the end of the day, the outcome of my life was completely out of my mother’s hands.
It is no different with my son and I hate that part of it.
Life has the ability to throw something at him that seems appealing and no amount of maternal preparation can guarantee that he will make the choice that is BEST for him. All I can give him are the tools to see the bigger picture and still – he will have the chance to screw it all up.
We all had that chance. I could list dozens of people who had every reason to succeed…and they didn’t. Some are dead. Some are in jail. Some are living beneath their own potential. Some are being mistreated. Some have chosen friends/partners/circles who don’t appreciate their value or worth. Some have accepted a false truth about themselves that has completely diverted their lives.
I look at Quinn and so far, (*fingers crossed*), he is racing, full-steam ahead toward a future that takes my breath away sometimes. The kid is destined for greatness and when I look at him, my heart EXPLODES with how much I love him. Rich/Poor, Married/Single - we don’t give a HOOT what his adult life looks like, as long as he is HAPPY.
His father and I have painstakingly laid every cobblestone for him to walk upon toward the life of his dreams.
But we never really know, do we?
It’s terrifying. We, all of us as parents, could be investing our ENTIRE lives to something that could end up being a colossal waste of time. Sue Klebold certainly feels that way. One choice... one poor decision… one moral slip… could implode years of attention and love and training.
But when I lay in bed at night, reflecting on ALL the ways my Quinn makes me proud and happy and the joy he brings us… I know that it will be worth it. No matter what. Even if the evils of this world take my dreams for my son away, he has been worth every second. There is no way I would have rather spent the last 12 years.
And when I was younger, looking at my parents, I was right. It’s a TON of work. But it’s the best work ever.