When I was young and single, even when I was young and married but no kids, my mortality was a distant concept. Years passed and we decided to have a baby. We were excited and eager and thrilled at the prospect of this new little life. We had not recognized the full weight of responsibility we were taking on.
What If Tragedy Struck?
As I got closer to my due date, it occurred to us that something tragic could happen. Then what would happen to our child?
We were stumped.
My family would expect one of them to be named legal guardian. His family would want to lay claim, as well. For a wide variety of reasons, we were not too keen on either side of our families having full custody of our child. And the reasons were serious—from things like ill health and age to financial and emotional instability.
Choosing the Legal Guardians
Finally, we decided that our closest friends would be best suited. They were near our age, held similar values and beliefs and would raise our child as closely to the way we would of anyone that we knew. We consulted them and they graciously accepted. We were thrilled! But that was the easy part.
The hard part was handling the not-so-subtle comments from our respective families. The hints about how much they wanted to take our son “if the worst should happen.”
For quite a while, we simply assured them that we had made our plan and everything was in order. Our son would be well cared for. But then came the day when my mother apparently grew tired of being coy. She just came out and asked me. “If you and Matt get in an accident, what happens to Sam? He would come to me, right?”
Nothing like having to tell your mother that while you love and respect her, you have chosen someone else to be primary caregiver for your son.
Easing the Blow
Once I had explained our reasons for naming our friends legal guardian and reassured her that she would be part of Sam’s life, no matter what, things were easier.
The honesty felt good. I found that it was just one of the many times that I would need to either explain or defend the choices I make for my son. It was a good lesson for me about standing my ground when it comes to the choices I make as a parent. It is always important to stand up for yourself, but even more so when you are the decision-maker and advocate for a helpless little one.