Today’s prompt from Writing 101 is to be inspired by a quote and utilize it in the post. This is very familiar territory for me; I frequently assign my students to respond to a choice of given quotes for their essays. This was difficult for me, though, because I was spoiled for choice. I did what I rarely do and pondered the assignment before beginning. This is not a good idea. When the Writing 101 group responded to the word procrastination, I commented to several fellow bloggers that I am not a procrastinator because the longer I put a task off, the more daunting the task becomes. An almost blinding epiphany solved my dilemma, as I realized, “Oh, I can write about the quotes I dismiss today another day!” So, buoyed by my new-found enlightenment, here goes!
Today’s post is a bit more polarizing than anything else I’ve written; I have no intent to offend anyone. I actually had a different example in mind when I chose the quote I wrote about, but as I started writing, this is what developed.
I am a very cautions person. I write lists; I make plans. I know where I’m going.
And sometimes this is a problem. As I think about this particular aspect of my character, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, by Bertrand Russell.
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”
Russell was a British philosopher, logician, and social reformer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950 “in recognition of his various and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.” (nobelprize.org).
I’m not saying that I’m particularly wise, but I am full of doubts. One thing that this makes me think of in particular is my husband’s and my decision not to have children. We doubted our abilities to be good parents. We pondered and pondered how taking on such a monumental responsibility would affect our lives: Would be be effective parents? Would my health allow me to be an appropriately involved mother? Could we make a child feel loved, safe, and happy? What if we simply felt overwhelmed? There’s a strict NO RETURN policy on children. In the end, we decided that in light of our doubts, we should abstain from having children. We have never regretted this decision. We feel very complete, and we have accepted some of my students and former students into our family, defining family as determined by the bonds of love, rather than blood. I don’t think our lives would have been better had we procreated, but I do, however, believe, we would have been responsible parents had we made that choice. I have a six-year-old nephew who has given me my first real contact with a young child, and I love him and delight in his company. When he cries, “Aunt Tracey!” and runs to me for a hug, my heart melts!
As a teacher, unfortunately, I see children on a daily basis who were the result of a fanatical need to pass down DNA, thoughtlessly fulfill a societal imperative to reproduce, certain that they didn’t need to think about this prodigious responsibility. They did not give the same amount of forethought to their decision to bring children into their lives. It’s a classic Catch 22 situation. Those who truly consider the awe-inspiring commitment that having children truly may be those least likely to have them, their doubt helping them to understand what is required to be effective parents. I’m certainly not saying everyone who chose to become parents did so without thought. Obviously, many people are wonderful, nurturing parents; their children are happy and loved. Unfortunately, I see far too many cases of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread.
For you loving parents reading this, I am in awe of what you do every minute of every day of your lives, and will continue doing forever. I remember my 93-year old grandmother still mothering my mother. The minuscule tastes I have of parenthood through my relationships with my nephew and Chelsea and some of my other students are exhausting–but rewarding.