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February 16, 2015

Why I Forgive My Parents for Ruining My Life

I yelled, I cried, and I told them how mean they were because when I was growing up, my parents just couldn’t get it right. They didn’t care, they didn’t try, they weren’t listening, and they didn't understand. “I can’t wait until I’m a grownup!” I’d spew in frustration, “I can’t wait to move out!” Looking back, I don’t know how I managed to keep all my teeth in this snide little mouth of mine. Somehow my parents (especially my mom, who often received the brunt of my attitude) were able to restrain themselves from knocking me out cold. I'd huff, puff, try to blow the house down, and instead of rolling heads it was my mother’s eyes, right before saying something like, “Yeah, we’ll see.”

And as life will have it, I grew up and moved out just like I said I would, causing me to learn fairly quickly that the excitement of becoming an adult is both foolish and overrated. Apparently (wah) there’s a lot more to it than hanging out with whoever and eating junk food whenever. Fast forward many more years and I’m a working mom with a 2 year old, rushing to daycare after leaving work later than I intended because a fire needed putting out. And I stayed because that’s what adults do. They do what they have to. It sucks.

When I finally pulled my car into the daycare driveway thirty minutes later than usual, the reality of just how tough it is to be everything you want to be, all the time, permeated. That’s when I had my full circle moment, seeing myself in my mom, who fervently worked to meet the challenges of adulthood while juggling the responsibilities of parenthood. And with five daughters, we each made sure she didn’t catch a break, calling Mom on everything we didn’t fancy like five immediate supervisors breathing down her neck.

Now I understand the struggle. Perception is everything and my mom was right when she said, “Yeah, we’ll see.” Because today, I’m ready to see things from the eyes of a parent and forgive them from a child's view. Forgive them for: 

Running late.  It’s the easiest thing to lose track of time, get held up by your boss, get stuck in traffic, or simply get your carpool days mixed up. Parents are humans, I get that now.

Not going to every award ceremony.  Seeing all the other parents clapping in the audience for their kid of the month made me wonder why my own parents couldn't show up. Now I understand what the word logistics means and how complicated it must have been with 5 kids. I mean, there was always a baby. And I got way too many of those awards (just sayin’).

Not getting me a Power Wheels Jeep for Christmas...or any other ridiculously high-priced toy that I “had to have.” I had to negotiate for, contribute to, and work towards the big "things" I wanted and whoa! Desires require effort; I appreciate not having developed a false sense of that fact. 

Sandwiches for dinner.  "Sandwiches are for lunch!!!" I'd yell. But every once in a while I had to eat one for dinner. I considered it torture. In hindsight, there are a million real life reasons why you didn't get around to cooking the typical delicious dinners I was accustomed to. In hindsight, I was spoiled, not reasonable. 

Making me take the bus.  All of my friends' parents drove them to school and I had to wake up extra early so I could catch the bus. "But we're the first stop, it's not fair!" I'd complain, not realizing the work required to get 5 kids to 3 different schools by 8 a.m.

Not letting me spend the night.  Slumber parties were out of the question. What were you so afraid of? I'm glad I didn't know at the time because it was too scary for me to handle. Thank you for putting up with my resistance, it kept me safe.

Ruining my life.  You wouldn't let me hang out with or go to so-and-so, you wouldn't let me stay out until blah and blah. And you definitely didn't give me whatever. I must've accused you of ruining my life a trillion times by the time I was "finally" able to ruin it myself. But once again you were right. (Does that ever get old?) Nothing good takes place at 2am, Shanda's mom isn't really "cool" as much as she is troubled, bad company really does bring bad luck, and though you didn't know exactly what I was up to- you knew enough to prevent me from screwing up big time.

I forgive my parents for all of it; the rules, the control, the structure and the boundaries. Because now that I have a child of my own whom I love more than life itself, all I want to do is protect him, guide him, and do the best I can, too.  So Mom and Dad, thank you. Thank you for ruining my life so that I couldn't ruin it myself, and helping me see that running late to the daycare pickup is an offense I can easily forgive myself for.

And when the time comes, I hope that I ruin my son's life too.