A rant: don’t do them much anymore: For more fun reading scroll to the next posts
There’s a lesson for the high school graduates of today. When all is said and done, the most important part of your legacy will be the kind of kids you raised. It’s the only thing that will matter to you â€“ or to anyone else.
This was in an op-ed piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune by Rueben Navarrette, Jr. I sent him an email thanking him for confirming my worst fear. Childless, so what will my legacy be? Obviously I’m a zilch to him.
I’m sorry but I just looked at the quote in print, and it is so stupid I can’t believe that I felt the need to answer it. But since he’s a columnist in the largest paper in California’s second largest city obviously people read him. I hope that he understands how unfeeling and sick that looks. Now I will go on…
The thing is that you never know how your children will turn out. When I was growing up our neighbors had three children; two were leaders in school and became very successful; the third is a career criminal. Our neighbors had to move in the middle of the night and not leave a return address as David would pick the locks and rob them of everything. Three children raised in the same house by the same parents with the same amount of attention and love. Is there legacy going to be the two great kids or the one bad one?
What happens if you have a disabled child, or a child that’s injured in an accident? Oh but that’s not what he meant. Of course those parents will have a wonderful legacy; they had such a difficult time raising those children. But he didn’t say that.
Mr. Navaratte was talking about his 20th high school reunion. He said that when he went to his tenth people were still establishing themselves, and from the article didn’t seem to be parents yet. That sweet faced adorable ten year old girl, who seems so happy and filled with potential. Then her hormones kick in, and despite the best parenting in the world, she turns to heroin. Won’t happen, you say. Can’t happen to a child raised in a great home with loving parents who know how to establish boundaries, limitations, and are religious. Sure does happen. Even (gasp, shock) among home schooled kids.
I am so tired of the smug superiority of parents who know everything. When I was with Zachary I made a concious decision not to have children. Neither he nor I were ready to be parents. He wanted children; they would help save him from further despair and hurt. I might have been young but I wasn’t a fool.
Later I had other opportuntities to become a parent. Thank god for birth control. I knew that I had a tendency to pick unstable though beautiful and bright men. Despite what my therapist de jour said, I didn’t think that it reflected well on my maturity. My next fiancee took me to where his father had killed himself. We had to cross a creek and a hill to get to the exact spot. He hadn’t told me where we going or why. I just stood there open mouthed and speechless. Though I had suspected that this relationship wasn’t going to last, I knew at that moment that it was over.
My best friend’s marriage to the father of her child was over by the time Little Luce was three. I can’t and won’t imagine the world without Little Luce, but I know how hard life has been for Lucia. She has struggled so that Little Luce could live the life of a priveleged city child. I’m not talking private schools, and sleep away camp, expensive clothes and vacations. Tutoring, braces, even going to museums and the movies–it all adds up. Lucia has given up much of her social life, vacations, and many other things so Little Luce can have.
I never wanted to be a single parent. Call me selfish, but I always knew how hard it would be. I never needed a child to define me or to make me feel complete. When I was an SSI Claims Rep, I kept a picture of Little Luce on my desk and claimed her as mine so I wouldn’t have to listen to claimaints tell me how incomplete my life was without children. Yes, I could have answered them rather rudely, but I didn’t want to. Yes I could have declared the subject off limits, but I worked in a bad neighborhood in the Bronx during drive-by-shooting days. The only thing that the women had was their children and I wasn’t going to take their pride away anymore than it had been or was taken away by different agencies.
I might be selfish but I’m not unstable. I don’t think that having a child would have made more mature, more selfless, more wonderful, more productive, or happier. I’m not denying the joy a child might have added. As an adoptee, I know giving birth isn’t the mark of a mother; I know that fathers add imeasurably to a family.
But our legacies will be based on our accomplishments; our compassion; what we did to to help make the world or a little corner of it better. Our legacies are based on our total lives, and how our kids ended up, well, many times they became brain surgeons despite our awful parenting, or career criminals despite our great parenting.