Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

... my relationship with my parents, that is (ain't that how it goes?)

I love my parents. They did their best. I really don't think that its possible for any kid to come out unscathed after being raised by their parents for 18 years, so at this point I've reached the conclusion that my parents did a pretty good job and I can't blame them for my neuroses. I think a lot of people realize this after a certain age. When I was 20, of course I blamed my parents for everything, but 20-year-olds are stupid. If you're reading this, and you're 20? Don't get mad, someday you'll agree with me.

My mom has always been more of a friend to me than a parent. This caused some issues when I was growing up, but to this day my mom and I are super, super close and she will always be my best friend. I don't know what I would do without her, and I just wish I could see her more often. We talk on the phone or online every single day. She doesn't have a mean bone in her body and couldn't hate even if she tried. I am so grateful that we have such a good relationship and I only want to make it better going forward. I love my mom <3

My mom always likes to say that I was a daddy's girl until the day I learned how to talk, and therefore how to talk back. Sadly this is an accurate assessment of things. I was never very close to my dad, even though we lived in the same house for 18 years. It makes me very sad to think about all of this. He and I often didn't get along because we were so alike: opinionated, brash, "my way or the highway," argumentative, always right, bullheaded ... we were often at each others throats, had hot tempers & refused to back down. He always laid down the law in our house because my mother didn't, which made for a lot of family conflict around the dinner table when I was growing up.

After I ran away to the bay area when I was 18, I didn't talk to my dad for over a year. That also makes me really sad to think about, and its my biggest regret in my life so far. We started talking again shortly before 9/11, and over the next year and a half, we managed to mend quite a bit of our relationship. I only got to see him once, though, before he died suddenly and unexpectedly on May 20th, 2003.

Two Hands
This was on my dad's fridge when he died in 2003. I made this in 1988. He loved me. A lot.
To say that I will never recover from that is an understatement. Losing a parent is devastating beyond words, and there's no way to ever heal. I miss him so much, and I have so many regrets. We were just getting started with our adult relationship with each other. I wish he could see me now. I've accomplished so much, and become such a better person, since he died, and he never saw it. He died thinking that I was lost, when in the wake of his death I have found everything. I know he would be proud of me, but it's so awful that he's not here to see it. Next year it will be 10 years .... how could this be? He slips further away from me with every year. Sorry for being so maudlin, but I have to keep it real.

My advice to all of you is this: don't let petty things get in the way of having relationships with the people you love. They quite literally could be gone tomorrow. Find ways to make it work. Its worth it. Just think about it: will you regret losing that relationship if the other person went away forever? Chances are, yes, unless they did something truly horrific to you and hurt you. So think about this, a lot. I know so many siblings or parents/children who don't speak to each other. So sad.

On a happier note, I have the world's best mother-in-law. I know so many people who have poor relationships with their in-laws for any number of reasons, reasons that make me feel even luckier to have struck a gold mine. My "second mom" is sweet, funny, caring, talented, can drink me under the table, and has a unique perspective on life and wisdom to share with me. We had such a great time whooping it up together in Rome, and collecting cats, and cooking together. She is the only person in my life who has consistently been able to give me clothing and have it be gorgeous, stylish and the perfect fit. My favorite part of when we hang out is when we cook together, though -- big surprise, right? Like with my "first mom," my only complaint is that I don't get to hang out with my "second mom" as often as I'd like.

Best of Both Worlds

4 comments:

  1. i found in life that people really start to understand their parents when they hit they age that they actually remember their parents being... mine were very young and i can remember my mom at 23 and 24... when i looked back at that and thought...she had 3 kids at that point...well...it changed my whole perspective... thanks for sharing... great read!

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    1. You know, that's a really good point. My mom was 27 when she had me, my dad was 30. I've now experienced both ages, and I REALLY have a different view of my parents than I used to. I feel like a kid! Did they feel like kids, with a kid?! Shit! That certainly makes a LOT of sense. Thanks for your comment, <3 you.

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  2. Beautiful post. I am just now starting to understand the love my parents had/have for me now that I am a parent myself. I now see why they disciplined a certain way, showed love that way, etc.

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    1. Thank you so much, Kendra. I haven't even had kids yet, so I expect there to be a whole lot MORE understanding -- especially with my dad, who was the person who parented more -- when I do! I just wish he were here to see that moment, but, well, we can't have everything.

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