Lately I’ve been thinking not only about the consequences that my current actions will have on my daughter, but also my past behaviours. For want of an all-encompassing term, I’ll use ‘retrograde responsibility’ which I’ll define as feelings of guilt over things years past. Specifically, actions which may in some way affect the physical and cognitive development of my baby girl.
One of the magazines I work for specialises in pharmaceuticals and so I always stay abreast of the latest developments in the medicine and healthcare sectors. When researching a story recently, I happened across a study that found binge-drinking in one’s adolescence can have “negative consequences on future offspring’s growth, social interactions and pubertal development”.
While the above study was observed in rat models, it still filled me with guilt. Despite Lorelei arriving when I’m arguably at my healthiest, the cumulative effect of my life is part of the genetic lottery that bore her. Suddenly things I thought were long behind me might impact her growth and I’m filled with shame. In those moments I not only feel like a failed father, but a failed hero figure too. For what are parents to children but their first heroes? In that, I feel a kinship with the Luke we meet in The Last Jedi.
I don’t want to end this post on a downer, so I’ll make like Leia and bring the hope. Lorelei may have her foibles and a little temper coming along, but she’s healthy, vibrant and alive. She can almost hold her head up unaided and, with a little help from my hands, can even stand and take the cutest little steps you’ve ever seen. Whether the wanton excess of my younger years has somehow hampered her remains to be seen, but if Star Wars has taught me anything it’s that we can all rise above destiny and the seemingly pre-ordained paths we walk upon. I take great comfort in that.