To be blessed with the parents I have is one of the best parts of my life.
That and the fact that they didn’t kill me from birth to age 19 is astonishing.
I would call myself a difficult baby. Child. Teenager. Twentysomething.
As a baby, I likely had colic that went undiagnosed. And was riddled with ear infections. This means I screamed a lot. No, I didn’t cry. I screamed. I know this because my mom called me The Teapot because I sounded like the teapot whistle when I cried.
I beat my brother with his toys. He would be playing quietly with his trucks and I would politely snatch one and slam it into his forehead. I know this because my mom was kind enough to write it in my baby book.
But they still parented me. My mom might have left me in the crib and gone outside and mowed the grass so she couldn’t hear me screaming. Yet she still fed me, bathed me, read to me, and clothed me. My dad was the peace maker. He would come home from work and take me outside and walk me around the house until I stopped screaming. I know this because when my mom would inevitably storm off from me in frustration, my dad would swoop in and all would be well.
In middle school I was sure I was already an adult. I knew everything there was to know about life. Often wanting to be in control of everything since I always knew best. It didn’t help I had a nasty attitude on top of it. My teenage years were wracked with battles of will, and a certain penchant for being disrespectful towards my mother. My brother and dad remember these years as the ones that couldn’t go by fast enough. And then there was the experimentation with my hair. Which became chameleon like in color and styles. None of them exactly flattering.
But they still parented me. Grounded me. Drew the line in sand. Took away my car. Even my dad taking me to the hair salon to attempt to fix my hair. I know this because they fought tooth and nail to keep me in line and to keep me from making stupid decisions when I thought I knew better.
In my twenties it gradually got better. I did what most twentysomethings do, which was drink excessively, party excessively, hang out with bad boys excessively, and manage to squeeze a college education in that all-consuming social life.
But they still parented me. They let me live under their roof, with freedom. The freedom to make the mistakes once, so that I would learn to never do it again. The freedom to go to school with no student debt. The freedom to be responsible for having a job and paying my own bills. The freedom to not intrude in my life. And to begin trust in me that they had done their best raising me and the rest of it was finally in my hands. I know this because by the end of my twenties, life had leveled out. I graduated college, started a career, bought a house, got 2 dogs and settled into what I consider my normal.
And they still parent me. Because it is a job that never ends. They have always been the first number on my speed dial. They are my ICE – In Case of Emergency. Which is not limited to an actual emergency. It includes dog sitting, tool borrowing, home repairs, advice and the answers to life’s big questions–such as: what temperature do you bake potatoes on? I know this because when I fell half way off the boat, I still needed my dad to rescue me when I couldn’t do it myself.
As we watched fireworks in Disney World on my thirtieth birthday with the song “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes”, I cried. Because I realized I am living the dream. I feel complete, all the time. I never question whether or not I am loved. Even in my darkest moments, when I don’t love myself, they do. My whole life, I have known unconditional and unwavering love. Not only in their love for me, but in their love for each other.
I’m sure it’s easy to love your child in the best of times. But the real proof of having great parents is when you are screaming in their face that you hate them and just wished they would die, and they look you in your eyes and tell you they love you because there is absolutely nothing you could do or say that would make them not love you. And you know they mean it.
They are the roots of my tree of life. I know that because of their love, I was born. And every new growth that has developed into a long reaching, strong branch is because they have nurtured my soul with their love.