“If I knew, I’d try to change the world I brought you to
Now there isn’t much more that I can do
But I would, if I could.”
Regina Belle sang these words in a song titled “If I could”, and every time I would hear the song, I would feel a little sad. I guess I knew innately, that raising a child isn’t something to be taken lightly, and after I had my first child, and experienced the “baby blues”, the feeling of being overwhelmed was exacerbated by questions about whether I had done the right thing – the world being what it is.
Because as much as most of us want to procreate, it is an awesome responsibility once the child leaves the womb. There is so much that we cannot control as our children grow. My sister when inquiring about her niece and nephew refers to them as “the little people” – because even though still children, they are prone to all the hurts, embarrassments and insecurities that we grownups have to face. And so we want to shield them from the harsh realities of life for as long as possible.
But even though we want to help them, it is important not to promise them wings, before they learn to run. And not give them the world, because as Heather Headley sings,” exactly what would that do?” My hope is to raise children that are thoughtful and mindful of others – it’s a struggle, but I’m trying. I read somewhere that US President Barack Obama said that his mother taught him compassion for others, by using the well worn how-would-you-feel-if-someone-did-that-to-you example.
A lot of our children grow up having a little more than we did, and tons more than their grandparents had, so I guard against my children having a sense of entitlement. On a trip to Disney World, I was amazed at how unfazed they seemed by the ‘magic’ of the kingdom. In my day, I’d have been giddy with excitement. To their credit, however, they do talk about the trip quite often, so I guess it’s the memories that matter.
I want my children to recognize special occasions for what they are, and that sometimes they don’t even have to cost a lot of money. And that eating out at their favourite restaurant is not a weekly event, and birthday parties will not happen every year – not even every other year. I hope to raise a son who is respectful of women and a daughter who knows her beauty because (as my sister-in-law says), she’s told so at home.
But my greatest hope is that after all the telling and the talking and the scolding that I will have done, and they are faced with hard decisions or face pressure from their peers, they will hear my voice in their heads. And I hope that this will guide them.