Friday, January 21, 2011

January Anxiety

Something about the middle of winter gets me thinking about my anxieties as a parent.

I have been thinking about my children: their futures, opportunities, and the best way to raise them to become good people. One minute you're sitting in the hospital, weathering the storms of labor, and when the baby is born healthy you feel nothing but gratitude for your good fortune. The euphoria of childbirth, the sleeplessness of infancy, and the sheer exhaustion of parenting keep the big thoughts out of sight for a few years and then suddenly it is January and the dark thoughts and the worries return.

I spend every day with these children, doing my best to meet all of our needs and help them grow along in their own time. But an idea has been creeping into my head. A wonderful, awful idea. My wife and I are going to raise these children into the moral and intellectual people they will become. I am responsible for their childhoods. And then after twenty years of hard work, guidance, and parenting, they will go on to screw up their own lives, on their own time. And only after those twenty years, forty years, sixty years, will I be able to say "yeah, they turned out all right."

I find this mortifying.

"Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has be be us."
- Jerry Garcia

At least they're cute. Thanks, Chippy, for the photo!