30 March 2009

Goodbye Little Fishy!

Yesterday morning started out sadly at our house. My daughter got up and was happily anticipating a viewing of "Aiens -vs- Monsters" when she went to feed her little Beta Fish, Larry. Every day when she'd prepare to feed him, she'd lightly tap on the top of his little aquarium and he'd swim to the top and wait for his goodies to be dropped on the water surface only this time, when she tapped, he didnt move. She immediately broke out in tears and cried out that "Larry was dead."

At first it took me a minute to get my bearings and figure out who Larry was... it just didn't register. Although I knew his name was Larry I mostly thought of him as this fish that annoyingly lived on our end table while his tank gurgled and bubbled always causing me to think it was raining.

It broke my heart that this little girl was so sad over the death of the fish who had been here a mere year. I started thinking about how badly she'd be affected by other deaths in her lifetime and I cried myself, not for the fish but for the sadness my daughter would have to face in her life. We are always so happy when our children are born. We rejoice at finding out we're pregnant, we celebrate pregnancy and anticipate the arrival of the child we've waited so long to hold and then the day they're born we ourselves are faced with feeling so many overwhelming emotions.

During all of this celebrating we forget how much grief and unhappiness our children will have to live through, how sad they will be at times and we don't think about the fact that no matter what we do, we cannot prevent them from feeling the pain of loss. If we thought about this, if we dwelled upon how unhappy our children would be from time to time would we still have them? Would we still be so bound and determined to have children?

My answer is yes. The greatest joys in my life have to me in my children but if I could have one wish, I'd wish that they would never have to feel heartache or the pain of loss. In watching my daughter I realize how much like me she really is. She is very emotional and wears her heart on her sleeve. She is bound to be hurt so many times in her life, she is destined to feel such great heartache. In thinking about this I question whether it would be better to raise a child who had a "harder heart" and didn't get hurt as much or is it better to raise a child to be more loving and attached, where she is bound to face greater heartache?

If I could do it over would I be harder on her so she'd be more resilient? Would I teach her that it's better to have a colder heart so you don't "feel" so much every time there is some life altering event? Would I want her to be less emotional and more "distant?"

I don't know what I'd do if I could do it over. I can't do it over so why dwell on that aspect? It does however give me reason to think that while being so emotional with my children, I've somehow caused them to be susceptible to heartache.

Funny how little things like the death of a fish makes you step back to think about your parenting skills, your life and how you've brought up your children... maybe I just think too much...

Anyhow, goodbye to Larry. I hope he's in fishy heaven enjoying the heck out of some brine shrimp and remembering how much he meant to a little girl!!

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