In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not exactly the sentimental type. It’s not to say I don’t appreciate things, but I’ve never really been the type to ooze emotion, even when the situation would call for it (like, say, at our wedding, or the birth of our baby). But today, when pondering what I would write for my next post, a really crazy idea came into my head. Maybe I should try to write about something I’m thankful for, but in a way that lacks the emotional ooze. So what am I thankful for? Baby naps popped into my head immediately, for without the blessed 45 minutes Baby 1.0 graces me with most days, I would not only lose my mind, but I also wouldn’t be able to write. Or shower, or do anything for myself in a semi-relaxed way. Squeezy food pouches were a close second, but it seemed like maybe I’d be a little light on material. It wasn’t until Baby 1.0 was dozing peacefully, and I was in the shower, that the idea to write about my parents came to mind.
This is me, in classic form, being very unserious at my wedding.
Now this idea to write about my parents was a surprising enough revelation that it made me stand there, mouth slightly agape, left eyebrow arched suspiciously, head cocked to the side like a confused puppy. “The parents?! But they are divorced and there are many of them,” my brain said with dismay. “Yes. The parents,” repeated the heart, “all of them.” “But maybe we could just be thankful for cheese?” suggested my brain. “No cheese. Parents,” insisted the heart. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea, for however weird, different or challenging I perceived my childhood to be at times, it was actually pretty great, thanks in large part to my parents.
It wasn’t until I became a parent myself that my view on my childhood fully shifted, and allowed me to see my parents for what they are: People. People who love, and people who care. People who make mistakes, and people who struggle. Just your run-of-the-mill, everyday people, living their own lives while simultaneously trying to be responsible for somebody else’s. Reconciling this new title of “people” with their previous titles of “Mom” and “Dad” has been paramount in appreciating the incredible effort they put into raising good kids, and continue to put in as we ourselves become parents.
Of course nobody is perfect, and this is hardly meant to be some brag about how I came from a modern-day Donna Reed family. That wasn’t the case at all. But now that I am a parent, it is much easier to look back, and not only cut them some slack, but also feel appreciative for the lessons they taught us, even if they were tough lessons to learn.
Thanks to my parents, and their openness about their less than perfect relationship, I have been able to use their missteps as a guide, and their victories as goals. Use good communication. Work hard. Practice transparency and honesty. Be supportive, loyal and kind. These are all invaluable lessons I am thankful to have learned from people who I love and respect. Perhaps the best lesson of all, they have recently shown me the importance of forgiveness, as they embrace friendship once again, and relish in their roles as new grandparents. This, the forgiveness, has strengthened my own relationships, and also allowed me to permit myself the same courtesy as I stumble through new motherhood.
I am so thankful to have the parents I have. My mom, my dad, my step-mom, my in-laws. Every one of them brings something incredible to the table. I could go on and on about the individual traits each person shines with, but then I’d be oozing emotion, and that makes my skin a little itchy. So today, I say thanks. Thank you for your love, your support, and your kindness. Thank you for your mistakes and your quirks. Thank you for above all else, sharing your imperfection, and in your imperfection, being beautifully human.