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I Do Not Have Children

I do not have children, but if I did, I would teach them wisdom.

I would protect him and make sure he knew how to protect himself.   I would nudge her toward high ideals and plenty of resilience.  I would tell stories of my life – both happy and sad ones – and the things I learned.  I would remind him things don’t always work out perfectly - that mistakes happen.  That success and joy are usually found by improving on our failures and then finding ways to let them go.

I do not have children, but if I did, I would probably feel paralyzed at times with the magnitude of responsibility.  Knowing that the time we’re together is short compared to the list of lessons to be learned.  I would be overwhelmed knowing there will never be a moment where my child is not learning something and that, in the long run, he will remember me, good or bad, as one of the most important teachers he ever had.  I am sure I would live with uncertainty, wondering if I were doing the right thing or enough of what was needed.  I would try to not push too hard, but hard enough to let her know how much I care.  I would not want to be his therapist, but still be someone with whom he could share his problems.  I would likely feel the anguish of knowing I could never completely cure her dis-ease with life’s dilemmas and incongruities.  I might not even understand all her struggles, but I’d be resigned to gracefully mirror her suffering for the time we’re together, hoping my allegiance will help her even after I am gone. 

I do not have a child, but if I did, I imagine the hard part would be figuring out how to get the light into all the dark places she is apt to wander – not knowing how often, or how long, she will feel at home in the glow of my adoration.

The hard part would be remembering the pain of my own past and hoping I have found ways to let healing – and not hurt – shine from those memories.  The hard part would be the mixture of fear and hope – fear of knowing I will eventually fail to protect her from hurts and pain, and that she would be miserable if I somehow succeeded; hope that when the world does test her, she will stand up and shine.  And, I guess, having a child would mean a good deal of prayer.  Prayer that one day my child will come back to me beaming with joy, explaining how she has made the world a brighter place; and how the world made her a brighter person. 

I do not have children, and the worst part is sensing the glimmer of light in my own heart and knowing not who to hand it to.

It is clear to me now that without children I am too tired, too big, too slow and too stubborn to carry my own light to the millions of tiny places where it is needed most. 

I do not have children, but I know that this is neither a reason nor an excuse why new generations need go without my experience, my vision or my care.

I do not have to have my own children to care about the next generation.  I do not have to have my own children to love what children bring to this world; to help them, hold them, inspire them and make them capable of living on the level of their dreams. 

I can teach.

As long as I have beliefs infused with truth and love and a place to act out my ideals, I can make a difference.  And in so doing, I have many children.  And I have a legacy.  And I can change the world.