Not mine, my kids'.
I know it is a bad idea to have specific fantasies about what my kids will do when they grow up. I have gradually moved away from the fantasies and dreams that came spontaneously any time any infant of mine showed a particular talent - Mr G is musical, maybe he'll be in a band! What if Mr B becomes a famous artist, and certainly Miss M could be a rocket scientist, and oh, yeah, Miss R definitely might be an investigative journalist. The pictures that are possible when they are infants and toddlers are much easier to imagine than as they get older and more complex.
Not to mention that they make it impossible for me to picture my choice being their choice as we go. They make their own way, I don't make it for them. Any time I slip and think otherwise, they put me back on my side of the line. Firmly. I don't make their path, I can only help them tread it. And the more I try to make them take a certain line, the more they'll just choose a further different one to avoid slipping into my zone too far.
My mom has said that she was acutely aware that she was raising us to live in a world that she would be able to glimpse but would never inhabit. Her world was formed of her experiences, her history, the events and culture and history that marked her development into an adult. Ours would necessarily be different, and she was going to have to raise us aiming for a future she couldn't imagine, and certainly couldn't predict.
I'm probably less intentional about that, but I do definitely consider the future a foreign country, that will be my childrens' native land. I will live there, but there will eventually be things that I cannot quite master with the fluency of a native, just as my mom cannot quite accommodate the constant information barrage of email - she's certainly competent at it, but in that 'I've learned' way, and not in the 'well, yeah, of course' way of the native.
Which brings me around to marriage, in a strange kind of way. I was reading over at BlogHer, and this post (regarding marriage) struck me. I recognize the position of the mom - marriage is an artifact of the patriachy, it should not be necessary to form a legal bond in order to have one's rights regarding a personal relationship respected, it's questionable whether we should encourage marriage through financial and other rewards outside the social and spiritual process of union, etc. The pure feminist position, traditional style. Isn't it strange to think of that as traditional feminism? Feminism has been around long enough to be called 'traditional' ... yeah, that would be a foreign country to my mom.
And I recognize the position of the daughter, too - this is my choice, and I have the freedom to make it, and the right to ask you to respect and honor it (which the author does, even though it pains her a bit, it is clearly a loving choice to respect her daughter's path). There's a degree of relaxation in the feminism I inhabit, of embracing the rules and regulations, provided they are not rigidly applied. My brand is more about opportunity and choice, of unloading the weights against, of balancing the paths. Choose - stay at home mom, or work outside the home, as suits you, as meets your needs, as reflects your core. Choose - marry, or cohabitate, as meets your needs, as well.
Maybe it is also the UU in me, that looks at all faiths and finds some good in each, and allows for each to choose their own way, knowing that it meets a need in that person to follow that path. Yes, at times I'll address the underlying need as a question - is there another way to meet that need that has a less problematic set of side-issues? It's the Prudent part of the process. But if the choice of marry or not, this religion or that, fits that person's Effective, Prudent, True, I will not rail against it - provided it also meets Safe Respectful Kind (which kind of nixes some of the more extreme religious positions that require taking action against others or intruding on their path without regard for their choices or needs).
After reading that blog post, I thought about my kids and marriage. I know I find marriage useful and valuable, and that the service of the wedding had some power to make me feel different after than before. But that would be true without the legal aspect, if all we had was the social and spiritual. I thought about my kids marrying into other faiths, or not at all, of cohabiting, of finding their partner early, or late, or repeatedly. Some images were definitely more comfortable than others. My personal comfort zone is 'repeat what I did'. Not that this is bad - heck, better that I like my life enough to want it for my kids. But I also know it won't necessarily suit them. They'll pick their own way. I have some bets on some general details - that Mr G will find his life partner when he's college age or later, in an organic method (that is, she'll just kind of occur in his life and he'll eventually notice), say. Or that Miss R will see the partner she wants, and move toward that intentionally, whenever it happens. That Mr B will be okay whether he finds a mate or not (having just revised his future plans from 'single with dogs and horses' to MAYBE married with two kids, at all of seven ...). That Miss M will have a quiet surface to her passion for whomever it is she falls for, but that her dedication will be fierce once earned.
But that's it for the imagining, at this point. Certainly I could be wrong about those as well. I'm prepared to be surprised, because I'm still picturing what life is like in a place I've never visited, with people I don't yet know - they haven't finished forming, so I only know who they used to be, off in that distant future.
Whatever they choose, I'll have my hopes for their happiness. And I am not too fretful about the patriarchy, the legality (unless they choose a same-sex partner, in which case I'm hoping that by then the rest of the world will have moved toward the greater sum of human happiness by opening the legal options there universally), or the theology. I'm going to trust their character, listen to their logic, and see how their paths unfold. And like that other blogger, I may wince a little if their world is too much unfamiliar, but I'll step up to the never-ending challenge of being Acceptant, Loving, and Faithful.