So, I just want to sing a few praises here. There's been much talking and reading and discussing in my home this week, and while it's served several purposes, one of the main ones for me has been to reiterate just how awesome my parents are and always have been.
When I look back on my life with my parents (thus far), it's always with a smile. Mom and Dad, whether they knew what they were doing or not (smile), never missed an opportunity to let me know they loved me.
Dad played ball with me.
Mom fixed my hair in curls, went to McDonalds to get me a Happy Meal, and took me to the park for a picnic.
They let me "hang out" with them while they listened to records (real actual honest-to-goodness big vinyl record albums) and answered my questions about who we were listening to (even if Dad did try to torment me with that Cat Scratch Fever album cover). They had no idea the monster they were creating, of course. But perhaps when their five year old knew all the words to Meatloaf's Paradise By the Dashboard Light, they might have had a clue.
We had elaborate bedtime good-night rituals, involving things like Eskimo kisses and Frances Face-Maker.
They read to me, gave me books and a library card, and encouraged me to read.
They trusted me to make beverages in the Smurf glasses.
They talked to me. Not just "How was school?"but about what I was learning in school and what was going on in class and what I was actually doing there. They asked me questions about what I thought and felt. And didn't let me off the hook with answers like "Fine..." "Good..." "Okay..." etc. (They still do that.)
They wanted to meet my friends' parents before they'd let me go over to play.
They gave me responsibilities, and there were consequences if I didn't do what I was supposed to do. If Mom told me to clean my room and I didn't, my toys disappeared. (And it took me awhile to realize that they really just disappeared to her closet, but I guess the point was that I thought they really were gone.) And I never really got much allowance, because, um, I never really did much to deserve it. (I still think it might shock Mom that my house is clean.) I was only ever spanked once. Because that's all it took. I never wanted that to happen again. Not just because it hurt and was scary, but I did not want my parents to be that mad at me ever again. I didn't want to disappoint them.
They let me have my own ideas. Encouraged it, even! They didn't always agree with me. ("I'm not eating meat anymore." "I'm going to take my graduation money and go to Germany for a month." "He's buying a house here, and I'm moving in with him.") They would question me, not because they didn't trust me, but to make sure I was thinking through my actions. But they let me do what I thought was right. They let me make my own mistakes (if mistakes were to be made) and they let me learn from them.
Then they supported me in the choices I made. On my first day of work at my first real, this-is-what-I-went-to-college-for job, there was a vase of flowers with a card that said "We're so proud of you! Love, Mom and Dad." When I crossed the finish line of my first ever marathon, they were there to meet me. When I got married they were standing right next to me.
They never tried to make my choices for me.
They might not let me off the hook, but they forgive me for being on the hook in the first place.
They'll help me get started, but then let (or, in some cases, make) me stand on my own two feet.
It's okay if I fail, as long as I try my hardest in doing. Like, you know, high school math.
They know they've raised a (moderately) strong, (very) independent person. But if I say "I need you" or "Help" they are there in a heartbeat, and will stay as long as it takes. Or until they see that I am ready to stand up again, even if I don't see that I'm ready.
They are my friends.
They are awesome parents. Not everyone was blessed to have it so good. And I'm lucky they're mine.