“If you could go back in time and not get married and have kids, would you?”
I froze, and my heart stopped for a full three beats. This is not the kind of question I wanted to hear from the mouth of one of my beautiful and intelligent offspring, product of a painful marriage that ended in divorce.
I believe in telling the truth. I also believe in protecting my children from hurtful things whenever possible. These two mandates were now at cross purposes.
Or were they?
My mind spun back light years to the person I was before I got married. I imagined the life I would have had, untouched by years of abuse and betrayal. I would be happier, but infinitely more shallow.
I imagined my life without all the exposure I had to hypocrisy in many people and places around the world. I would be more trusting, but less discerning.
I imagined my life without three pregnancies and deliveries. I would be less scarred, but also less sympathetic as a midwife.
I imagined my life without my three remarkable children. I would have much more freedom, but I would be more selfish and more lonely, less patient and less understanding.
I imagined my life without a marriage that put me on my face in desperation before God. I would be more proud, more thinking I was living the life I deserved, less broken, less intimate with the One who has also suffered, and less able to comfort others in their sufferings.
I imagined all these things in less than a minute while my daughter waited for her answer.
And I took a deep breath, smiled, and answered truthfully, “I can’t imagine my life without you.”