I still want to be Bill.
“Have you ever considered going back and taking the Bar so you can be a child advocate?” my husband, Anthony, just asked.
The truth is that I think about it all the time. But when I do, I think of the divorce attorney whose advocacy inspired me to go to law school.
Before I’d even graduated elementary school, my mom started sending me to talk to Bill. She found him intimidating and couldn’t understand what he needed from her. The law was scary, its words too daunting. I acted as go-between, unwillingly at first, and then, increasingly, willingly and even happily.
Bill didn’t talk down to me. Quite the opposite, he treated me as if I was a competent, capable human being, tempering his hard truths with a softness he reserved for children.
With humor and grace, he taught me not to take other people’s bad behavior as a reflection of anything wrong with me. It was all on them, all their choice and the consequence of their own struggles that had little to do with me.
When my dad tried skipping out on my medical bills, Bill was there to lend a hand free of charge.
Having lunch to celebrate my college graduation, he urged me to skip law school and law.
“But I want to be like you,” I told him. “I want to be for other kids what you were to me!”
“You can find another way. You will find another way. One that’s better for you.”
I told my husband about Bill, and how he ended up being right. Practicing law wasn’t for me.
“How about social work?” Anthony offered.
“I think about that, too.” And I do. At some point, when my kids are a little older, I will go back to school to pursue a career in some kind of healing profession.
Because my husband is right. My passion is the safety and well being of children. I can be engaged in and challenged by other endeavors, but the welfare of children is what stirs my soul.
For now, I try to make things better for children through my words–e.g., “Woody Allen & the solution to violence,” “‘How are you raising him?!’” and “Portrait of a Pedophile.” But there is coming a time where I will need to use more than words.
Having seen and done and savored many things in my life, it’s the memory of Bill that evokes the stirring sensation of being pointed the right direction.
All these years later, I find that I still want to be Bill.