A few months ago I added a silly Katherine Heigl movie, Life As We Know It, to our Netflix queue. (Confession: despite our best efforts to complain about how bad it is, we’ve seen 27 Dresses about a gagillion times.) Yes, I knew the premise of the movie is an unlikely couple inheriting their best friends’ baby and the inevitable hilarity that ensues. I glossed over the idea of the baby’s parents actually dying, and instead thought it would be a lighthearted, slightly funny, easy way to spend a Friday night in front of the tv with Benjamin.
Boy was I wrong.
Having a baby has changed us.
We turned on the movie and within the first ten minutes the baby’s parents were in a car crash (or something) and Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel were at their house taking care of their baby (because obviously the parents had given their names as guardians in their will, even though Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel had gone on one terrible blind date a long time ago and neither seemed fit to take care of a child). Instead of being the beginning to a sweet romantic comedy, it was a tragedy and horror movie in one for us. Benjamin and I were both blubbering idiots thinking about what would happen to Owen if something happened to us.
Needless to say, we turned off the movie, watched an episode of Modern Family to lighten the mood and went to bed.
But, also needless to say, we couldn’t get the thought out of our minds.
It’s an idea I tend to file under “Things I Don’t Want to Think About”. So I just… don’t. It stops my heart. It clenches my stomach like someone just stuck a knife into it. It takes my breath away. It stops me in my tracks. I just can’t do it. I absolutely can not fathom life without Owen. Or Owen’s life without us. Or our lives without Benjamin. Or Benjamin and Owen’s life without mine. Just. Can’t. Do. It.
But the reality is that while Benjamin and I may not have a mass of riches that we need to divvy up in a will, we have something far more precious. More important. And we need to be responsible. And that means thinking about That Thing I Don’t Want to Think About.
We probably should have done this the day that Owen was born. But we didn’t; because we just couldn’t think about it at that point. It’s time. We need to decide who would take care of Owen if something happened to us and draft a will.
Where do you even begin to think about that question? Sure, we have wonderful, loving families who would undoubtedly pitch in if something terrible ever happened. But our siblings either have their own kids or chose not to have kids. Our parents will be significantly older than our children such that they may not be in a position to take care of our children for the rest of their lives. We have to think about whose parenting philosophy aligns with ours; who we would want raising and teaching our children. Who will help them become the people we want them to be? Who could handle the burden of taking our child or children into their lives? Who would want to step up and parent in our absence? Heck, even who would put them to bed at the right time and feed them the healthy foods we have worked so hard to give them and still have time to go apple picking and read books and play outside? Who can do that?
And once you choose this person, you have to ask them, point blank, “Will you take care of my children if I die?”. Phew, that is a lot to ask someone. Talk about baggage. Will even asking that question impact your own relationship? What if they feel like that have to say yes, because you’re asking them something so powerful, but they really want to say no? What if they say no, would you feel like they slammed a door in your face?
I don’t know where to start. But I’m pretty sure we have to.
Do you have a living will? How did you draft it? Have you decided on a guardian for your child if something ever happened to you? How did you pick that person?