Day 16 – “P” Parents
There is a video circulating around titled “The World’s Toughest Job” that is a beautiful homage to mothers and all of the sleepless nights, sacrifices, and unconditional love they put into being a parent. It takes a lot to move me to tears, and this video succeeded. Not only does it apply to mothers, but parenthood in general.
The message of this video made me think about my own parents and how eternally grateful I am for their lessons taught through tears, for their love and support. As I reflect back on my childhood, on my years as an ungrateful teen in my first apartment, moving back home with my tail between my legs, getting married and buying house, and now being completely independent (financially at least!) from them, I realize how incredibly lucky I am and what a little shit I was for so many years.
Growing up, I never fully appreciated how privileged we were. My parents made enough to support our family and live comfortably. We never went hungry or had to worry about how my piano lessons or my sister’s swimming lessons would be paid for. As I grew up and started out on my own, I started to realize how badly I needed the support of my family and the appreciation started to grow. I knew that I was fortunate to have parents who were able and willing to provide assistance when I was between jobs in college and needed help paying rent, needed money for text books, or didn’t have the extra funds on hand for my car insurance. They were always, unconditionally there.
There to help. Not feed me everything with a silver spoon. My mother grew up on a farm where hard work was a means of survival. My father immigrated to the United States with little to no English language skills and had to work incredibly hard to make a life for his growing family. I was raised with this strong work ethic and the understanding that nothing comes for free, you have to work, sometimes very hard, for everything.
I have had a number of conversations with friends recently about parents and the support they received from them throughout their lives. I was floored at how many were basically kicked to the curb when they graduated high school (if not sooner) and forced to fend for themselves. They received no help from their families throughout college, no help with the procurement of the essentials for their first apartment, and paid for their weddings 100% on their own. The justification was that their parents were raised that way and they in turn wanted their children to grow up “strong” and completely self-sufficient.
Not every child has parents to can, or even want to help them as much as my parents did. Helping my sister and I was their way of showing us how much they loved us. It wasn’t just the financial support either. After attempting to branch out on my own after high school and moving 3,000 miles, I seriously crashed and burned. A gross failure. I could have moved back after I realized my mistake after 6 short months, but I was terrified of hearing “I told you so” and of disappointing my parents, my father in particular. Looking back, I know they would have welcomed me back with open arms; I absolutely hate myself for causing them years of pain and torment, for not accepting or wanting their love and support. I am so disappointed that I wasted those years in that respect.
I’m sure I’ll do some other ode to parents as Mother’s and Father’s Day roll around over the next few months, but I want to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you for raising me to be a kind and compassionate woman. For teaching me the difference between right and wrong. For believing in me and encouraging me to have a voice, to have opinions and brains. For making me feel beautiful from the inside out. For being by my side through all of the happy childhood memories, the angst-ridden teen years, on the day of my wedding, and for all the laughter and tears along the way.
I am so unbelievably proud to be your daughter. Mom, I love that we are finally at the stage that we can be friends. I value your advice so much and savor every moment we spend together. Daddy, you have put up with so much from me over the years and never once turned away; I didn’t deserve it and I love you so much for that. You raised me with the best example of what a real man is, what a true husband and father is; you raised me to believe in unconditional love.