"I would never want to have children. Why bring kids into this world with so much stress, misery, and sadness -- and then you need to work so hard to make money to support them?"
I was just unzipping my boots while simultaneously turning the oven on and placing the grocery bags down when my 15-year-old posed this question. I squelched my professional instinct to rush her over to the computer and go to WebMD.com to take the Depression Health Check.
I knew full well that this moodiness did not fit any clinical criteria and was driven more by studying Greek tragedy (just the previous day she'd given me her rendition of the Oedipus story). What to say?
Her younger sister, age 11, piled it on. "Yeah, Mom. I mean, this world is just falling apart. The carbon footprint. Terrorism. And cancer. Not to mention all the health issues you'll pass on to us. I mean, it's selfish to have kids, don't you think?"
Stifling my urge to take this opportunity to teach my impressionable little ladies how to order top-shelf tequila, this is what came to my mind, and I said it: "Because I wanted to share the turquoise blue of the Caribbean, the purple sky at the top of Ampersand Mountain in the Adirondacks, giggling until someone wets her pants, and greeting a smiling face across the room with a knowing wink."
They were stumped, so I continued. "You need to know that life is bliss and misery mixed. Perhaps we would never recognize one without the other. You will get your hearts broken and feel grief and loss many times in your lives. But you will also become confident and clear-minded. You'll feel profound joy and love and laughter; you will feel awe and respect and humbleness. That is how you'll know you are alive and why you will want to give yourself and others a chance to feel the same."
Mouths open, eyes wide, smiles spreading … and both went back to finishing their homework.
My daughter did hit on one of life's challenges: cancer. In this issue you'll hear about the C-word from actor Marcia Cross, who has long helped put the fight against the disease in the spotlight through her activism, and Supernanny Jo Frost, who lost her mom to breast cancer. You'll also read about love, hope, joy, resolution, dreams, and bliss. That's life. Live it well. And turn to WebMD.com to help you through all of life's moments -- to make the good better and the bad bearable.
Yours in well-being,
Nan-Kirsten Forte, MS
Editor in Chief, WebMD the Magazine