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Parenthood Changes Everything, Changes Nothing

Baby Laura and I

Everything seemed to be going right for me in the summer of 1969. Actually, I think a lot of people were a little bit high that year. I had a job in an experimental "open space" school, and I had 3 months off work. I read the complete history of the world by Will and Arial Durant, I learned woodworking, took guitar lessons from TV, and watched the entire syndicated Star Trek series. It seemed like the perfect time to bring a baby into my life.

The baby rocked everything. I carried her around everywhere, even to anti-war demonstrations. She brought the peak emotional experience into my life and I will always be grateful.

But the happy days were short-lived because I couldn't stop knocking my head against all the walls that contain us. The baby's mother considered it natural, and I think most people would have considered it natural, to make an accomodation with this society (for the sake of the children, they usually say). She took an interest in a guy with money and a home in the suburbs. That's where she went and that's where she took my baby. That's a long tragic story, but I bring it up because there were some lessons to be learned.

There are people who raise children without compromising their commitment to work for a better world. I know some of them. But they're not the norm. Most people fit themselves into this world, essentially give up the struggle, and they blame it on their children. Parents hide behind their children. They opt for a comfortable, non-confrontational life for themselves. They give in and give up. But they never admit it. They say it's because of the kids.

When it became apparent to me that I was about to lose my little family, I had to imagine how I would explain it to my baby once she reached an age where she might ask what happened and might be able to understand the answer. If I gave in, stuck to my job and career (which turned lousy as soon as school started in August) I could someday tell my daughter what many parents say, "I wanted a better world for you, but I had to quit fighting for it because I had to make a good living for your sake. I still want you to have that better world and I'm hoping you will go out and fight for it!"

In the scenario, she answers, "Why didn't you?"

So, while we're pulling for our kids to become fighters for higher ideals and a better life, we're setting an example of accomodationists and quitters. Why should we expect them to do any better? Parents hide behind their children, generation after generation.


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