I've always been interested in history, particularly the history surrounding European monarchs. I'm not sure why exactly, but I cannot seem to get enough of court life. I usually stick to the 1400-1700s, but last week I picked up a book on Queen Victoria.
I knew the basics about this influential woman, but I have been interested to find out more about her personal life. As with many monarchs, she began her rule at a young age. She was eighteen when she ascended the throne, and ruled for sixty-three years.
When I think about my country being led by someone young, I tend to think of someone in their forties, or perhaps early fifties. It would be out of the question for someone of such a tender age to rule so many people in today's world. Even though she was not the supreme ruler, as Great Britain wasn't an absolute monarchy at the time, she was nonetheless a very important figure of a very important nation and her 'rule' started when she was still a teenager.
As that thought sunk into my brain, I immediately responded with my own thought: I cannot imagine shouldering the responsibility of a country at the age of eighteen.
And then in my memory I heard all of those comments that people threw my way when I was pregnant with Moira. They said that they wouldn't have been able to take care of a baby at the age of twenty, that they were too selfish to look to the needs of an infant while they were in college, and that they don't know what they would have done if they found themselves in my shoes.
That was quite a few 'theys'. I hope you didn't get confused. Also, please don't try to correct my grammar about subject/verb/number agreement. We have more important things to focus on. For example, why can't I seem to purchase a Wii Fit? They are sold our everywhere!
Friday night as I attempted to put Sabra to sleep (poppies...poppies...) I thought on the issue of being ready and willing, as the old maxim goes.
I was not ready to have a baby, and I think that no matter how old one gets, they cannot ever be ready for children. It is something that is impossible to grasp until you just jump into it.
Marriage, at least for me, has been much the same way. I thought I knew what was coming; good times, bad times, ups and downs. If you are married, then you will understand what I mean when I say that it is so much more than the summation of good and bad. Marriage can't really be explained until you just walk through it. Uphill. Both ways. In snow.
Was I ready for marriage? No. But was I willing to be married? To have kids? Well, yes...sort of.
What does that indicate, I wonder?
So thus came my thoughts, me very foolishly comparing myself having kids and being blessed/chained with Austin for eternity to the job of being Queen of the United Kingdom.
It isn't the same, but it did cause me to wonder about responsibility, and when we are ready to shoulder it.
I have heard a lot lately about 'young people' not being able to handle the demands of leadership. Before you can step in to that realm, I have heard, you have to have experience and ability and calling and charisma. And more importantly, you need to be ready.
But as I noted from personal experience, if I had waited until I was 'ready' for kids, I would still not have them. Life cannot prepare you for itself; you cannot have experience running a country until you are just given the ability to run the country.
What did I learn about doing a job that I wasn't ready for? Well, I guess that regardless of my personal feelings, I was willing to do what needed to be done. Like it or not, I was a parent and thus expected to act as such. In the end, it wasn't readiness that mattered as much as willingness.
I wonder if Victoria felt that way when Lord Conyngham knelt before her and proclaimed her to be Queen of the realm. Here was a huge task, a responsibility like none other that had fallen to her, a girl of eighteen.
Was she ready? How could she be?
Was she willing? Obviously so, she accepted the position.
Does this mean that being willing means that you are ready? I cannot agree to that, although it seems to be partially true.
I am more than willing to lose ten pounds, but apparently not ready to do so. If I was ready to lose the ten pounds, I might have gotten out of bed this morning to run. Instead I stared at the wall until the caffeine had entered my blood enough for me to get into the car and remember what the turn signal was for.
Similarly, being ready does not indicate willingness. We've all heard people say that they are 'as ready as they will ever be', with a begrudging sound in their voice. But how can you be truly ready if you are not willing?
I've never really thought about how these thoughts tie into each other before. The more I think about it, the more clear and yet confusing it becomes.
But I do like the implications for youth: to be willing is to be somewhat ready, if for no other reason than owning the desire to do what needs to be done.
If I had to choose someone who was ready or willing to rule my country or be my boss or otherwise be influential in my life, I think I would want them to be willing, even if they weren't ready.
Although words are so much more than a simple definition, the definitions of these words show me that ready is being prepared for, while willing indicates being inclined towards.
The best option is to have both, no doubt.
But Victoria could not have been prepared to run a country. I could not have been prepared for marriage. Or kids. Or the fall of my metabolism when I turned twenty-six.
But Victoria was inclined towards being the Queen. She was willing to learn and try and seek help. She made herself prepared, but only after she practiced.
Queen Victoria, one of the most influential monarchs of all time, began her career as a girl. She was the name of an era, the grandmother of Europe, and a formidable force.
Go hug a teenager.