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Balance

December 29, 2010

I’m feeling a little guilty about yesterday’s rant.  It goes against my latest mission:  The mission to appreciate my parents more.  To be more loving toward them.

I am 38, and my parents are 60 and 63.  They were young when they had me, and I am grateful that I have them around.  But despite that gratitude, I often find myself slipping into irritation, frustration, annoyance, when I am around them.

And it has struck me lately – as I see my 14 yo slip into irritation, frustration annoyance with me – that my parents deserve better.

Yes, they have beliefs I disagree with.  And – yes – those beliefs were implemented in ways that have impacted my life in important ways.  But so what?  Whose doesn’t?  What parents don’t profoundly impact their kids’ lives?  Whether it’s religious beliefs, divorce, relocation, job loss, illness — parents and children are intertwined, and the decisions and events of one will impact the other.

Many of my friends have lost their parents, and they have chastised me for complaining about my mother:

Me: “Ugh, my mother is insisting that we travel to Connecticut for a Christmas celebration!  I don’t have time for this!”

Friend who lost her mother when she was 15:  “What I wouldn’t give for another chance to celebrate with my mother.”

That didn’t stop the irritation, though.   It didn’t keep me from choosing not to call my mother, rather than hear cliché after cliché.  It didn’t keep me from seeing my father’s caller i.d. on the phone and letting it ring and ring, rather than hear the usual harassment about why I haven’t gotten on the road yet, or the teasing about the Patriots losing, or something else.

It really is the recognition that my kids keep getting older.  And they will not stop.

Right now, Lemon still comes and lies next to me in my bed, and asks me what I’m reading, and rests her head on my shoulder.  She still wants to tell me funny stories about things that happened during her day (even if I can’t make heads or tails of what she’s telling me, not knowing these new high school friends of hers or their inside jokes).  But there are glimpses.  Glimpses that come with, “can you PLEASE shut my door when you leave?”

And I find myself spending considerable time wondering what it will be like when we reach the phase in life where I don’t talk to these two people who mean so very much to me every single day?  What will that be like?

It will be like shit.  That’s what it will be like.

Will it be less crappy because they’re one day 38 and have kids (babies, hopefully, because they will obey me, and not have children until they are 30)?  No.  Will I ever want to hear frustration and annoyance in my daughter’s voice when I call her?  No.  I will NOT.

So, my parents struggled with me during my teen years.  But they also took care of me when I was a baby, and they changed my diapers, and they taught me how to laugh, and how to have fun.  They taught me about the importance of the family unit, and they gave me a good life.  They have apologized to me for the struggles we had when I was a teen – they know they went overboard.  They know they were over-zealous.  They were finding their way.  They weren’t perfect.  And I have benefited – as a parent – from their mistakes.  My kids will benefit from me knowing what not to do.

And when I was divorced, and they were so disappointed, and when I subsequently told them I had nothing in me that followed their faith, and they were heartbroken, they moved on.  And they continued to support me, and to accept me.  They did everything they could to be there for me.  Through the divorce, through my move back east, through all of law school.

And I am grateful.  And I will do my best to show it, and to be there for them, no matter what.  Without irritation.  Or at least with less irritation.  Hopefully.

[But I was still mad on Christmas.  So there.]

 

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