Steve Irwin's death this week has made me stop and think about our responsibilities as parents vs. following our bliss. I've also been pondering the fear that all parents fear... kissing your spouse goodbye in the morning as they leave for work and never seeing them again.
The first point and the second are quite intertwined in my personal history. My father was an airline pilot. Flying airplanes was his bliss, and it afforded his family of 5 children and a high-maintenance wife with a very comfortable lifestyle. The risks he took, he thought, were calculated - calibrated neatly in his favor. Where safer than in the cockpit of an airplane? And with a highly trained, highly experienced pilot in the driver's seat, no less.
Even his obituary in 1969, when I was 5 and my brothers and sisters ranged in age from 8 to 15, said he "died doing what he loved". A plane that he was in, not in the driver's seat at the time, crashed on a golf course some 80 miles from his family. Why this time, I would ask myself as I got older, growing up without a father. Why not some other time, when the risks were greater?
When we make the choice to become parents, do we then have to forego our bliss if it means taking unneccessary risks? I think yes. I think that you take the job as a parent with all of the necessary responsibilities, which the first and foremost is BE AROUND.
Did Steve Irwin take unneccessary risks? It seems like it to me. I feel deeply for his children who, like me, will not remember what their father's warmth felt like. Nor will they remember his voice, except what is left on video tape for the rest of the world.
This makes me very, very sad.