I kept a Pregnancy Journal (and it bothers me to this day that the third trimester is almost empty because we missed most of it! OCD much?). One section has a list of questions for either Parents and then you can compare your answers. Things like ‘when will the baby be born?’ (we both were well out on that one), and ‘what feature of your Partner would you most like them to have?’ (not sure we managed that one either). Another question was ‘what would you like them to be when they grow up?’, Intrepid Papa and I answered the same thing; we wanted our unborn baby to be happy.
At the time, I must admit I was quite proud of us both. We weren’t going to be pushy Parents with aspirations for our little girl to become a Doctor, or Lawyer. Nor were we piling on pressures that she should be rich, or famous. We were focusing on what really matters in life, I gave myself and my Husband a mental ‘pat on the back’. However, I have reflected on this answer often since she was born two years ago, and I’d like to change my response.
To become a Doctor or Lawyer, she can study hard, commit, and take her exams, then she will wake up every morning a Doctor or Lawyer. By the time she’s grown up I am sure there’ll be all sorts of Careers which don’t even exist yet, which she could pursue for financial success. And to be famous I just need to film her opening Kinder Eggs and put it on youtube right? But to ask of her to be happy all her life? Well that’s asking the impossible.
Of course we can wish her to experience lots of joy, and many happy moment, but if the Pixar film “Inside Out” has taught us nothing (yes I learn all my life lessons from Kid’s Movies-if you have not seen this one you need to!), it’s that you need the rough with the smooth. If she came out with some extra gene which caused her to be perpetually happy, it would no longer be defined as happy. Happy is about the highs, and it needs the middles and the lows to exist.
Of course I hope so much that my Daughter will experience a life free from Mental illness, (but with it touching 1/3 of us, it’s possibly another unrealistic hope), but say she did suffer from chronic Clinical Depression-would she have failed me in anyway? Of course not.
So I would like to petition to alter my answer: When my Daughter grows up, I would like her to live a life filled with gratitude, to feel truly adored, and to truly adore in return, to enjoy the highs with all she’s got, and accept the support and have the wisdom to navigate the lows. And to know there is nothing she can ever do to make her Parents stop loving her.