During my 20s, with each passing year, I found myself mourning lost opportunity. With each decision I made (what course to take, what major to declare, what job to stay at, what career to choose, what date to call again) I mentally flipped through pages of all the other things I now could not do, or be, or choose. Kinda like when you decide what you're getting at a restaurant, and realize you won't be eating the rest of the menu.
I thought this was the Great Depressing Fact of Life. Not that I didn't enjoy the choices I made, often enough. Not that I haven't, in fact, built myself a lovely wonderful little life over here :) This is not that.
But it does seem to be one of the harder truths of life that you cannot, really, do it all. That picking one path, generally speaking, precludes plenty of others. "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood" and all that, except it's infinite roads diverging between infinite trees, with each new morning.
Here's the mommy-blog moment: children are so flippin' full of potential. They have all their choices ahead of them. The most monumental thing Bean decides in a day is whether to finish his breakfast or not. He doesn't get too broken up about it, either. And I marvel at it, how they can Do or Be so much, still. It's so cheesy, but seriously, they have their whole lives ahead of them.
(I understand now the parental urge to live vicariously through your children's potential. And I only have a few years to curtail my desire to fix all my mistakes via their choices before they're old enough that it'll do real damage lol.)
There are two connecting points in my life for these thoughts. First, the discussion about Women In Ministry, that delicious beast, is being bandied about in my offline and online worlds. And I feel the responsibility of ensuring my children know, in very real tangible ways, that their potential is not limited by their gender. It is not enough for me to settle these abstractions in my head any longer. I have to live them out, in a meaningful way -that is, as an example to the Next Generation. I am realizing how internal and kind of inert my feminism has been. I am realizing that will not suffice.
Second, and this is what this post is really about, today I sang a small butterfly song into the whipping North wind, over pink roses falling on a casket far, far too small. Our friends' daughter died before coming Earthside, before the Dream-of-her could became the Real-of-her. She will always exist, in the hearts of her family and their friends, as her Purest Self, which is simply Infinite Possibility. And my eyes look differently on the children that are here, these Pure Beings living out their Dream-to-Real right in front of my jaded, adult eyes. And I feel differently, the wonder of their potential, and of my own.
Indeed, I feel a new responsibility, and I wonder if all those touched by her life might feel it too, to somehow Be the Possibilities she cannot be herself; to somehow live out the pureness of her potential, and make this world as beautiful as possible, a world worthy of the life she'll only have in dreams. I feel a responsibility to shake off my cynicism, and know, really know, the blessing of Possibility. And as I live it out, to offer it up to Heaven, proudly but gently, "See? We are not wasting it. We can be the hands you cannot, we can be the choices you cannot, we can be the Love."
The only redemption for this tragedy is love. It's not good enough to roll over under the Great Depressing Fact of Life, to let it make me complacent. Parenthood, and childhood-cut-short, tell me complacency is no longer acceptable.
We can be the Love. We must.