Found your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.
Earlier this week, I had a long and ongoing conversation on twitter with several friends, some of whom have children and some of whom do not. The conversation was started by one of the childless ones, whose basic question was how people can justify having children in the current climate—both political and literal. It was an honest question, not one of judgment, but given this friend’s experience of the world and her position in it, the choice just seemed impossible.
Among those of us in the conversation who did choose to birth children, Rowan was one of only two born after the 2016 election cycle, the only one chosen in the midst of the way things are now. In early 2017 we didn’t know exactly what was coming, but we knew the score, more or less. We knew our baby’s life would look very different from ours, and that many of the changes wouldn’t be positive. We knew we’d be fighting an uphill battle to equip her to live in the world safely as a generous person. We chose to have her anyway.
That’s a choice I question every day. I don’t know what kind of mother I’d be if I didn’t; if I didn’t question whether we’d made the right choice in bringing her into a world that looks like this one. We are not giving her a hospitable climate or a particularly hospitable society to work with. I regret that deeply, but I don't regret her.
What I can give her is hope. Not passive, wait-for-it-to-get-better hope, but the kind of hope that fuels her to keep working even when it feels like the work doesn’t go very far. The kind of hope that helps her find the places people are hurting, the places where we’re struggling to keep it together, and go there. To go there not with her teeth bared (although by gods I will make sure she has her teeth if she needs them), but with her arms outstretched. If the world ends, may she build a shelter, not a stockpile. While she is young, we will do the same, because it’s not only about the future; it’s also about today. Today is already hard.
Having children, especially now, isn’t a rational choice. It’s not one that can be made wholly by reason, because by all accounts it’s more than a little unreasonable. But however hard I work, the world will still need good people after I’m gone, and I am doing everything in my power to make sure that she and the other children she brings into our lives will be among them. That's not her purpose; it would be presumptuous of me to act like I know what her purpose will be. But she will be equipped, with teeth, and hands, and hope.
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