There is an ongoing debate in my house about whether I should feel compelled to sacrifice my life for my children. The conversation usually begins with a question along the lines of, “Mom, if the house was consumed in excruciating scorching burning flames and you could only save us, your darling children, or you, from the fires of hell, which would you choose?”
While the kids were young, the response was uniformly affirmation that I would most certainly sacrifice my own life to save the kids in any one of the gruesome death situations they might lay before me. Recently, I decided it was time to challenge their assumptions (Erma Bombeck style – casually and with humor); they are 19, 17 and 8 after all. So while travelling in the car with my daughter the other day she put the question to me again.
“So mum, say there was a global nuclear blast and a single space pod would be leaving the earth and you had to make a choice between your own life and ours – what would you choose?” She waited knowingly for the traditional answer that would affirm that her life value was infinitely greater than mine. That there is nothing a mother wouldn’t sacrifice for her children.
“Well, I said. I do rather like living.”
I went on, “the thing is I like life, I think I contribute to my community and maybe even the world and I might even have a lot still to offer. I’m not saying I wouldn’t maybe give my life for yours, I’m just saying I’d consider the options.”
“But you’re old!” She replied.
“Well you know kiddo, I’m not that old and besides, I’m hopeful that the coming singularity means that I can live a little longer!”
“But we have our entire lives ahead of us, we are young!” My daughter is at this point, genuinely dismayed.
After spending a little more time attempting to convince my daughter that my contributions to the world, combined with my wisdom and experience, warranted at least consideration that my life should be the one to spare in the coming apocalypse, I gave up. I have decided I will indeed have to sacrifice my own life if my children are to remember me favorably.
It’s okay, I’ve also decided to have my memoirs transcribed from my audio files and my wisdom will live on long after I martyr myself by leaping in front of oncoming asteroids or floods or whatever other creative ways they can conceive of to show that I would make the ultimate sacrifice with aplomb.