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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Trustey

What the heck am I going to tell my kids?

I think a lot about the things I want my future kids to know about me and my past. Usually before I can even think about these things, I wonder about the future kids I speak of and if they’ll even exist (insert feelings of impending doom about being single in your mid-20s, rates of infertility in the US, and a career that takes a whole lot of time and attention). Someone clearly is looking out for me and making sure I don’t need to worry about kids anytime soon as I swipe through Hinge once every 4 months before deciding I’m bored of it and wait for Prince Charming to simply break down my apartment door and profess his love to me. So far the plan is going really well...just ask my mother how confident she is that she’ll have grandkids in the next decade. But I digress.

sneak peak at what the offspring might look like

Ok, so what types of things do we want our kids to know about us?

In theory? I was a phenomenal high school athlete (hellloooo benchwarmer) and definitely was really popular (I attended at least one prom with a guy who did not

like I said, "cool"

know/care of my existence). As we all know, these are the things that matter and it is crucial that my kids think I am very cool. If I couldn’t fool my middle school/high school/college classmates into thinking I was cool, selling that story to Caroline Jr. should be no problem (jokes, I won’t add the “jr” to her name).

I could write on and on about the importance for me to instill confidence in my children, to make sure they know they are loved more than anything in the world (case and point: I’m so in love with these nonexistent babies already), and all that other good parenting advice that I have literally no right to give as a woman who has zero children. And, quite honestly, my concerns about what my future mini-me’s know about me doesn’t really relate to ME all that much.

What I find myself up at night worrying about is how to tell my children about everyone they’ll never get to meet. How do we capture someone’s entire being in words? I can imagine a day when I am in way over my head with a daughter who loves being up to date on the latest styles and celebrity gossip and thinking to myself, “wow, you are just like your Aunt Anna.” And even just typing that makes my eyes water. Because despite a future in which I hope and pray I’ll be blessed with glimpses of my favorite people from my past shining through my favorite people of my future, there’s forever a feeling of “but why can’t I have both?” It’s a game of tug-of-war where I want to be grateful for reminders of those I love, while also wanting to protect myself from how painful memories can be.

Where I get especially stuck is thinking about how I would feel if I found out my parents had loved someone else before they loved each other. Can you imagine how weird that would be as a kid?! Like, “yeah, mommy and daddy love each other but actually mommy’s first choice was someone else and if that had happened, you wouldn’t exist.” This may be what my counselor calls “catastrophizing” but I think there’s a valid point here! And I don’t think it stops with former loves of our lives. Think back on that best friend from middle school with whom you shared those cool Claire’s necklaces that said “best friends”that fizzled out by the time you were in different high school cliques. Or the first friend you made post-grad when you realized the real world was scary and you were so relieved to have found a buddy but when your jobs took you to different cities, those daily talks became weekly and then not at all. We all have people who were so formative to our lives and who are no longer part of our lives in the same way. How do you explain that to a child?

lest we never forget anna's fashion sense at age 11

Here’s the thing: I think that’s okay. People are in our lives at different times for different reasons (“reason season” a friend of mine likes to say, meaning people either come into your life for a reason or for a season). We grow, we learn about ourselves, and we change throughout these seasons. And then, sometimes, these people are gone - be it by choice or by tragedy. It doesn’t mean it’s a reason to hide these experiences from the world (in my case, my unborn little caros are my world - aww). I think we can teach a lot of lessons to our future kids in sharing with them about all the love we experience in our lives, be it long term, short term, soulmate, or friendship. I haven’t figured out yet how I’ll tell my kids about my special people. I don’t want them to grow up thinking it’s normal to have siblings and parents die and to be waiting for catastrophe to strike, and at the same time, I want them to know that there is so much of me (and transitively, of them) that would not exist if I failed to acknowledge my dad, A.J., Anna, and Jake. While certainly a post for another day, when I think about love and a future partner, I envision a person who loves the me that encompasses the loves & losses.

The whole thing makes me think of a song I heard years ago and that I contemplated even getting a tattoo of. It’s called “Taking You with Me”:

“Wherever I go, I’m taking you with me. Wherever I go, you’re coming along. Cuz you’re in my blood, capturing my soul now, yeah you’re in my heart. And that’s where you belong.”

Wherever I go, I’m taking them with me.

The good news for everyone is I have plenty of time to figure this all out. Stay tuned.

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