Have you ever heard a phrase or set of words and it immediately brought to mind some great thought that you might otherwise never have thought about? For me, it has always been the words, “If I Could…”
“If I Could…” is everywhere in our pop culture. It’s in popular songs, it’s in books, it’s in art. You literally can find this phrase is so many mediums that it would truly boggle your mind. But for me, those words, no matter what medium they are in, have always struck a chord. And never so much as when I finally had children.
When I finally had children those words brought to mind visions at a speed faster than my fingers flying over this keyboard. One after another I thought of all the things I would do for my children, all the shortcuts I would give them, all the abilities I would give them, all the dreams I would make true for them.
And then I plopped back down to earth and realized all the things I could give my children, all the things I could protect my children from are the very building blocks that we need to be great.
I believe in the old adage, you can’t understand light until you have seen complete darkness. In other words, you can not possibly understand what is great in this world until you have experienced the ugliness. You can’t celebrate a victory when you have overcome so much, if you never overcame anything. While I certainly don’t want my children to experience pain, suffering, anger, frustration, even hatred, there is a part of me that realizes it is these things that make or break us; these things that define us.
Where would we be as society without monsters, without war, without disappointment? Where would we be without loss, without gain, without the drive to make ourselves better than anyone else? While the ugliness in this world can be and often is that which destroys us, it also is the things that will remake us.
I have lost a great love, I now have a love that requires my attention and care. I have been beaten, both figuratively and literally, so I understand the healing touch of a warm set of arms. I have been frustrated, so I understand the gift of learning. And I have been in so much darkness the night sky was invisible, so the beauty of the sun is a promising spark of hope.
The vast majority of our lives are not spent separate from the world; today even if you hate the outside you have the internet to explore. We have all experienced the ugliness and many now understand the beauty this life can offer. What kind of parent would I be if I took this away?
If I took away depression in the night, or the face of a bully; if I destroyed evil and only showed perfection would my children understand the value of it? Could they understand the value of it?
I have so many wishes for my children; I want them to be happy, I want them to be safe, I want them to be loved, and I want their dreams to come true. But I wouldn’t take away the journey it requires to get there either. I love my children, therefore, I will pick hard battles for them to fight so that the victories will stay in their souls for all time.
So, I suppose “If I Could…” I would give my children the tools to fight the ugliness. “If I Could…” I would give my children the knowledge to keep them safe, and “If I Could…” I would give my children a safe place to land when the fight became greater than their strength. Maybe most of all, I would give them a safe place to spend a moment to catch their breath; a safe place in the midst of all the monsters to remember why they are fighting and what they are fighting for.
The truth is, I don’t want perfect children. I want my children to live and that is a singularly different ideal. The truth is I understand that learning to fight is just as important as learning to survive. The truth is my children will be extraordinary because their mother refused to fight all the monsters for them.