Yesterday I took a step never before taken. I went to a child’s birthday party. That’s a huge deal for me, I know. My niece Keira turned 1 and, since I absolutely adore her, I wanted to be there.
Not everyone enjoys children and I am one of those people. I have more patience for teenagers than toddlers, for the elderly in Depends than babies in Pampers, for a houseful of barking dogs than a houseful of whining kids. I wasn’t meant for motherhood or even babysitting. I act cautiously around all children until they prove themselves likable. Once they do, I’m a goner.
Even if I wanted to be a mother, given the youth today I would be afraid to bring a child into this world. We now live in a society that values equality over competition. How do our children learn about determination and success when we don’t keep score at little league, and we give everyone trophies? The real world consists of both winners and losers. I thrived on the thrill of success. My first year as a competitive gymnast I won a total of two ribbons and they were for something like 11th place. That was by no means good enough for me. I worked my tail off to become the best. The next year, and the years following, I was a champion at most all meets. The one time I placed 2nd I felt defeated. I remember being so unbelievably mad at myself.
I earned my awards. I learned the value of hard work and dedication. My perfect scores were not handed to me on a silver platter. My reign could end at any given moment if I didn’t put forth the effort. I controlled my destiny.
I fear the future. Our kids do not know discipline. We teach them to “use their words” instead of teaching them right from wrong. Consequences raise laughter instead of concern. We have schools that solve problems through talking rather than punishment. Justin Beiber is a roll model. Honey Boo Boo is a way of life. Knock out is the chosen method of fun instead of soccer or catch. Violence ends problems. Children are not taught to take responsibility for their actions. Mommy and daddy will always be there to bail them out of trouble. Respect has gone by the wayside.
If I ever feel the want to be a mother, I will raise my daughter the way I was raised. She will learn to give respect and only then will she be respected in return. She will be an independent thinker. She will earn her triumphs. She will learn that success will not be handed to her. Hard work and determination will rise her from her falls. And she will fall. She will understand the consequences of her actions. She will fear the fallout of misbehaving. She will be thankful. She will learn the importance of being a good person and giving back.
No, I am not perfect. I’m unsettled and still treading through life uncertain of my destination. But I know I am responsible for my successes and failures. I control my life. I don’t deserve a gold star for mediocrity, nor will I settle for it. The world doesn’t owe me a damn thing. It doesn’t owe any of us. We owe it to the world to be better human beings.
It turns out , I probably could handle motherhood if I wanted. And judging by the character of all of my friends, the ones who have children will raise them in a similar fashion.
Maybe there is hope for the future after all.