Parent love. Being a human almost always dictates that you were a child....first. Someone’s child. Maybe you had a mom and dad. All families look different. But that really doesn’t matter. A family is family and you grew up somewhere.
Being a child is somewhat an odd thing. Because no matter what age you are, you are ALWAYS someone’s child. But those rolls change so much over the course of a lifetime, don’t they?
no matter what age you are, you are ALWAYS someone’s child
As an infant, you are completely dependent on your mother. For food. For clothing. For every basic need. You clearly would not survive without someone taking care of you. For most of us that is our mother. We grew in her womb. We heard her voice first. Felt her touch first. Looked into her eyes first. She was our first love.
And then toddlerhood. Oh, how we begin to idolize those or that parent in our life. They seem like rock stars to us. Larger than life. The sun rises and sets with them. The love that flows from them to us? It feeds us, sustains us, contents us.
In elementary school, we start to push and pull a little bit. More of a push, then run back! A little bitty scratch sends us running to mama. A slight tummy ache, we need consoling. We just are starting to explore our boundaries a bit. How far before we need to come back to that security we depend on. We still need them for so so much. We rely on them. They are our world.
Middle school happens and our little hormonal bodies start to rage within us. We feel angst. We feel euphoria. We feel confusion. And that’s in the first 30 seconds of the day. Our parents seem like enemies. But then again. Once the school bully steps in and hurts us, or the mean girl who damages us...we still run to those caretakers to fix us, solve the problem, save the day. We want to hate them but we love them and it’s a constant battle within. We are growing and changing. We know it's hard for us, but honestly? It's equally difficult for them.
High school. Suddenly we are more independent. We have opinions and ideas. We have friends who are way smarter than mom or dad. Yet, we want their money, we want their keys, we want their support, we want them to be proud. But at the same time, they make us angry for enforcing rules. For discipline. For curfews. For actually parenting us. The nerve! There are moments that you enjoy each other, your heart surges with love. But those dang hormones and moody friends! It's hard. So hard.
College happens in our late teens and early 20s and we begin to think that we don’t need those parental figures at all. We love them, but they are OBVIOUSLY stupid. They clearly made every mistake in the world while raising us. We don't actually need them, right. We know everything. They are so inept. So ancient. So uninformed. It's a battle of the wills and quite frankly? I'd rather grab a drink with my friends. And so we begin to dismiss those humans who have invested so much in the last 20 years. As a parent, this is when we learn to let go
. Watch them fly or crash. We are no longer able to say do this or do that, even if we know what's best. We become a bit of a spectator, waiting to be invited to sit on the bench.
...this is when we learn to let go. Watch them fly or crash.
And then....we hit our 30s.
We’ve had some knocks in life. We’ve seen some things. We've struggled. And maybe, just maybe we’ve had kids of our own. And that’s often when the lightbulb moment happens. THAT's when you begin to see everything that your parents have done for you. And you begin to understand the great love that you could never have possibly comprehended it before. This is when a true friendship starts to begin between your mom and dad and you. It’s when you begin to see them as amazing adults. People who did the best that they could. People who loved you voraciously, even when you probably didn’t deserve it. People that you hurt. Quite possibly more deeply than you’ve hurt anyone else in your life. You didn't know. They just absorbed it, waiting for you to come around. Why? Because of that deep deep love and connection.
Those relationships solidify. You find a new sense of respect and love.
You watch your parents become grandparents and see how they interact with your own children. At that point, you begin to realize how amazing they must’ve been when YOU were small. And then if you’re me? You feel the pangs of guilt and how you treated them, and how you thought about them. But you didn’t know. Your brain wasn’t developed. They love you, therefore they forgive you. But that doesn’t mean they didn't feel all your rejection.
As you watch those parents age...it’s hard. You want to give them as much of your time as you possibly can. You want to hear their voice as much as you possibly can. You want to spend time and share stories and remember things. You want to hold on to all the things you used to let slip through your fingers. You grasp.
I was that child. I AM at that child. And I have those children. I see things from every angle and every perspective. It's brutal. It's painful. And oh so real.
I never knew true connection until I held my firstborn in my arms. I never knew true fear until I watched my babies run away from me to play, explore and be. I never comprehended unconditional love until I looked into each of those pairs of brown eyes and saw my own very soul on the other side. Those four humans are so much a part of me, it's as if a piece of me is walking around on the earth separate from me. Does that even make sense?
I never knew true connection until I held my firstborn in my arms
I have not been a perfect parent. Not even close.
My parents were not perfect parents.
I remember distinctly feeling that I didn’t belong in my family, that maybe I really wasn’t even theirs. And that they really didn’t love me.
How foolish. How shortsighted. How immature. How much I did. not. know.
My parents are closing in on their 88th-year of life. 65 years of marriage. I treasure every second I get with them which will never be enough. I will make every effort to spend as much time with them as I possibly can. Not because I have to. But because I want to. They have been amazing parents.
And even more. They have loved me at my most unlovable. They have accepted me as I am, probably more so than anyone else in my life.
There are days when I feel how my own children aren't connected to me like we were in the past. It is then I have to remind myself that someday they too will understand. Someday maybe they’ll feel the way I feel now. Someday it will all make sense. They are being and doing life exactly as they should. But...the circle of life is hard. And it doesn't lessen the "things" we feel in our hearts. There is nothing simple or easy about it. But wow...those kids of mine - I am so very proud of them.
I even got to add a daughter. Thinking about the fact that my son is actually a full-grown married adult is mind-boggling!
I also know that someday in the future I will be saying goodbye to my parents. But it will be more like I'll see you later. Because I truly know I will see them again. The faith I hold on to is my source of comfort and my strength. I need it so much.
I realize not everyone has had the same experiences I have had. I don't discount that. I know some of you had very painful childhoods. Maybe you had parents that weren't there. I hear you. And I am sorry. Please know I'm speaking from my own experience, and in generalities.
Life is hard. And also short. A vapor. A blink.
Babies? Love on those parents of yours. They love you more than you may possibly know...or understand.
Mamas? Hold fast. They will come around.
Love hard. Love without strings.
Give. Give. And then give more. Because it's so worth it.
Give. Give. And then give more. Because it's so worth it.
It's all love really. Unconditional. No strings attached. No matter what. Love.
So do that. Not when, but especially WHEN it hurts.