My Parents

I am thankful for many things, but one thing in particular lately: my family.

I was raised by a liberal Democrat and a conservative Republican. My mother is a teacher and my father a chemist. My dad is a well-known musician (the best… better than Trent, guys) and my mother is a creative and crafty genius and a verbal and literary wordsmith.

My mother taught me how to be a mom. I started realizing this once I married my husband and gained a stepson, and it really set in once I had two children of my own. A house full of boys. My mom, whether she or I ever realized it or not, prepared me from the time I was young to be a woman, a mother, a forgiving and thoughtful person. When I cuddle with my boys and pull them close I remember my mom doing the same. The boys bring me books to read or toys to play with and I do the special voices, follow our playful routines (and of course change things up constantly) just like I remember my patient mother doing. I look at my boys and can’t figure out how to not grit my teeth with the abundance of love and emotion I have for them, and I remember seeing the same emotions in my mommy’s face. I lose my patience with the boys sometimes, and hide in my bathroom or cry and try to explain to them what its like to be stressed and overwhelmed and then I remember that they’re kids… and I’m taken back to moments when I’d hear my mom sigh or see her frown and I know she was stressing about adult things, but she was still my mother. She still took care of us and loved us, and when I feel like I can’t do it anymore I remember these moments when she did keep doing it. Some of my favorite memories with my mom involve us going to school with her in the summer to work in her classroom. My sister and I would roam the hallways and explore the old historical original Hall School building. Afterward sometimes my mom would take us out to eat and before we got out of the car she’d ask us, “Do you want to bring in books to read, or do you want to talk?” Often we would all bring in our own books to read and we’d spend time together silently reading for part of the time and talking about the literary worlds we were currently living in the rest of the time. One of my favorite visual memories of my mom is from a family video in our first house. My sister, mom dad, granddad, and a few family friends and I were in the yard at the farm watching a litter of puppies play. My mom was taking a bucket of feed to the chickens: smiling, working, joking. Watching my sister toddling around and laughing at us while we chased the puppies. She’s wearing a skirt and its summer, or maybe spring. She was sort of like a hippy, care-free (seemingly) and laughing and outdoors-loving and just beautiful. When people tell me now that I look like her I take it as the biggest compliment. I hope I can be like her.

My dad taught me how to analyze things and how to be attentive and notice details. My dad has shown me that your plate can actually never be too full, you just have to learn how to rearrange things and ask for help and forgiveness from people. My dad taught me that things can be beautiful and relaxed and worthwhile even when you feel like you can’t go on and don’t have the space or time for things. My dad has shown me that you can make mistakes and be upset about things, and that’s okay, but then you have to pick yourself up, consider what went wrong and how to repair things, and then do it. My dad (and my mom!) showed me how to be an independent woman. Gender never got between things he did with or showed me or my sister; we learned how to properly use guns, how to hike and fish, how to make a plan and build things, how to take care of a yard and house and garden. Growing up we all did those things together; there weren’t different roles for different people. My dad showed me that one can have conservative beliefs but not be stifling.

Maybe I was just lucky to have parents that are completely different and capable of being independent. Maybe that’s why I don’t have trouble sorting out my feelings about current events and political issues, because it is possible to be a Democrat or a Republican and not be outlandishly opposed to everything the other side has to say. It is okay to question things and to push for answers, and it is okay to fight for what you believe in… once you figure out what that is.

Oh yeah, and Atticus and I set all the egg timers at Meijer in Plainfield last Friday afternoon at 1:05. I really hope someone heard them all go off and laughed and didn’t get upset because gosh I feel guilty about doing that.

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