Someone recently reminded me that there are no guarantees in life. No guarantees in relationships, no guarantees that your children will turn out OK. Nothing is absolute when it comes to people. There’s really no telling if any relationship will withstand the tests of time, including that between two lovers, or a parent and child.
It’s like the longevity, or lack thereof, of music. It’s hard to predict what songs will still sound fantastic or seem relevant after 30 years, and what will make you cringe. Who imagined in 1984 that Madonna would still be cranking out dance music in the second decade of the 21st century? I defy anyone to tell me that “Into the Groove” is not still totally danceable. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about playing cherished songs from my teenage years to my daughter. You can hear one of my all-time favorites on the video (or here on You Tube, very worth a listen). Some of it was embarrassingly unlistenable. But some other bands that I haven’t played in years have really held up. I was fanatically into a UK band called The Woodentops at age 17. And their music still sounds great. Anyone who likes the Canadian band Arcade Fire should listen to The Woodentops and you’ll see (or rather hear) a direct musical lineage from one to the other. The only time I saw them play live was at Glastonbury music festival in 1986. Unfortunately I passed out part way through the set from “sunstroke”, or possibly too much beer and pot too early in the day.
Another marvelous British legacy that has resurfaced in recent years is the World War Two-era “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster. Following decades of dusty oblivion, the poster has become a pop-culture phenomenon and spawned an ever-expanding menu of spoof posters and consumer items. “Keep Calm and Eat Cake” hangs in my sister’s kitchen. Social psychologists and media studies-types suggest that the slogan has particular resonance since the 2008 financial crisis and ongoing global economic mess. One of my favorite iterations is “Keep Calm and consolidate all of your debts into one easy monthly payment”. I also have a soft spot for “Keep Calm and Evade the Police”.
I’m thinking I should create a poster that says: “Keep Calm and Don’t Freak Out That Your Children are Donor-Conceived” and hang it in my kitchen. On and off, depending on the day, year, or moon, I fret about what our children will make of all this when they’re teenagers. At times, I feel gripped with terror that one or both of them will experience anger or sorrow or some other painful emotion about their conception. But it may all be OK, and I just don’t know because there are no guarantees. Things can turn out badly for families created the “normal” way too. Nobody really knows if a child is going to become suicidal, or a drug addict, or fall in with the wrong crowd, or simply reject them for a while. All you can do is keep calm and carry on, nurture the relationship and hope it can withstand the tests of time.