Sometimes I just can’t stop thinking about something until I write about it. This is one of those times.
I don’t often put warnings on my blogs, but this one is most likely going to be sad. It will get you thinking, and possibly even help you strengthen your relationship with your children, but beware if you’re already feeling a little down. With that said…
My husband and I watched a movie the other day called “Arrival” that came out last year. The movie is mainly about an alien invasion, but the part that I was interested in was more of a side-plot. The main character, Louise, is a linguistics professor and is called in to try to decipher the alien’s language. After her time working with them, they give her the ability to see into the future.
In the Future
In the future, Louise sees that she has a daughter. She sees herself giving her daughter a wonderful childhood, go through the angry teenage years, and then the daughter gets sick with a mysterious and incurable illness. The daughter dies shortly thereafter. It doesn’t say exactly how old she is when she gets the illness, but I would guess that she’s in her late teens or early 20’s when she dies. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just say she’s 20 years old.
Louise knows that her daughter is going to die when she’s 20 years old, but chooses to have her and love her and give her a wonderful, albeit short, life. As a mom, I would do the same, and I am going to assume that most other mothers feel similarly. I might feel differently if it were just 1 year or 2 years or 3 years, but 20 years is enough to see your tiny newborn grow into a young adult. A lifetime. I also might feel differently if they were born sick, and those 20 years would be full of pain and illness, but it seemed that the illness came on hard and fast and took her quickly. So, for me, this isn’t a question of “Would I or wouldn’t I?” but more a question of “How would I do things differently?” if I knew with certainty that one of my babies would be taken from me in 20 years.
Would the Little Things Really Matter?
If I knew that my daughter had exactly 14 years and 5 more months left to live would I really care that she spilled an entire bowl of cereal on the floor? Would I snap at her “BE MORE CAREFUL!!” and send her to time out, or would I say “That’s ok!” and help her clean it up instead?
If I knew that my daughter had exactly 14 years and 5 more months left to live would I get mad when she didn’t pick up all of her toys like I asked, or accidentally broke one of my plates, or some other minor break or spill?
If I knew that my daughter had exactly 14 years and 5 more months left to live would I get annoyed if she asked me 22 questions in a row, or wasn’t quiet enough when the baby was napping and woke him up, or if she was whining too much?
The answer to all of them is “Probably not.” If I knew that my daughter had exactly 14 years and 5 more months left to live I would be a kinder, gentler, more understanding mom who tried to solve problems without yelling or getting too annoyed. Which leads me to the question…
Why Am I Not Doing That Now?
No one wants to think about this, and the reason that I am writing this blog is so that I can stop thinking about it, but we all have expiration dates. You, me, our children, our parents, our friends, and our pets. The only difference from the characters in the movie is that we don’t know what our (or anyone else’s) expiration dates are.
We should all try to act like our loved ones could be taken from us at any moment. Don’t yell so much, talk things out. Don’t do time out, sit with them and tell them why you’re upset. Clean up the messes together. And finally, answer their questions. You never know when it might be the last one that they ask you.