I’m looking at the photographs of the broken hearted parents of the children that died in a recent air crash across the news. I can’t think of anything worse than outliving one’s own child. The anxiety of parenthood is bad enough, when they leave the home it doubles. Knowing they will never listen and need to make their own mistakes and learn under their own rules seems a waste of accumulated wisdom. The annoying, irrational confidence of teenage children, the way they take risks and come home boasting about it – expecting us parents to be proud of them rather than freaked out is a cliché. But tragedy and loss should anything go wrong, would haunt us for the rest of our years. After caring for these beautiful babies, and holding their hands as we cross the road together, we feel helpless as they run out into the world feeling invincible and all trusting.
My uncle David once gave me some advice about driving, advice he was given when he learned to drive. He said, “It doesn’t matter how well you drive, or how capable you are, it is the other guy on the road you need to look out for.” However confident and self-assured we are as youth, however kind and wise we are, none of this protects us from the wild card. Never safe from the emotional baggage and risk taking of others. As parents, there is very little we can do but watch, suspicious of their friends while aching to control their access to the outside world.
All grandparents lost a child before their years on both sides of my family. My own parents did too when I lost my sister as my father had before me. For all I know this could have been going on throughout our family history. WW1 took even more children away from my ancestors also, a whole town of men in a single trench that when bombed took away all the local boys. It terrifies me to even consider the loss of one of my children, having to live without them rather than die before them.
Before my son Jay became clever enough to access everything in the house, I sold all my guns. But it is the wildcard that is as worrying as the obvious risk. Just last week I pulled into the driveway, took the groceries in and shut the door. Before locking the car I noticed I hadn’t parked completely straight. I sat in the driver’s seat to back up and re-park. In the corner of my eye I sensed a shadow disappear behind the car, it was my three-year-old daughter Holly who had opened the front door of the house and ran behind the car. I could so easily have reversed over her. It scared the shit out of me, it was pure chance I saw her before reversing.
People worry about when to have children, as if the sunrise of parenthood is a problem that will hold them back. Those early years of parenthood are actually an emotional and professional boost, a pleasure. Suddenly treated as a respected family by society, full of self-esteem and naive wisdom. Having children is nothing but a bonus, it is growing old without them that is a burden.
We can’t protect our children from the world, and even when we try to – we simply weaken them and set them up for failure at best, or at worst push them away into the arms of others.
I don’t even have anything wise to say here. Just another free writing thought stream, no means nor end, just a spinning blog roll emptying onto the floor. Or maybe a despondent acceptance of fate and karma. No! A personal dialogue that only seems to make sense now to me. Like a mad man alone in the toilet, the blog roll piled up on the floor while I gaze at myself in the mirror, pulling faces. I’m telling myself that the here and now is the most important. Loving and caring for those around me while we are all here together today. Ignoring the inevitable loss and winding down of everything I can possibly create and plan. Accepting my lack of control over the future.
Living for the day is an attitude that sounds irresponsible, but is actually very important. Too many parents neglect the daily, emotional needs of their children while planning a future for them that they don’t necessarily want. Living for the here and now, focusing on the needs and beauty of our lives today is something we all need to embrace and invest in.
Rather than worrying about the future – we need to worry about missing the present.