Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Life As A Gift

A blog reader wrote, "I never appreciated how precious my life was until I had my kids. Do you feel the same?"

Yes, but not in the sense that I suddenly realized after having kids that life was full of happiness, sunshine, and birds chirping outside my window. Instead, this appreciation of preciousness was really a realization that I had the biggest responsibility of my life.

Having a child makes you responsible for that human life. You can't take as many risks as you used to. If you're a journalist, you don't put your hand up for frontline coverage of the war in Iraq. You're less likely to take on life-threatening adventures like sky-diving or climbing Mt. Everest in a snow storm.

Once you have kids, you're no longer responsible for your own life, but for the life of your child's parent. You might be willing to risk killing or maiming yourself, but you can't risk leaving your children motherless or fatherless.

When I was single and childless, I took all sorts of risks with my life, my body, my health. If things went wrong, I alone would suffer the consequences. But now that I have children, I've had to give up being selfish.

I think I really came to appreciate how precious my life was when I was diagnosed with cancer. Not so much because I realized I could cease to exist, but because I realized I was going to take my children's mother away from them.

If I didn't have kids, dying wouldn't be nearly as bad. I've had a good life and 41 years is a long time to enjoy any gift. But depriving my kids of a mother is something entirely different.

So yes, I appreciate much more how precious my life is because I have kids. Life was a precious gift before kids. Now, my life is the most precious gift I can give to my kids.

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