Aug 24, 2011

Your parents grow up, too

The past couple of weeks, I've realized a few things. I removed myself from being a daughter and saw my parents are two people; a couple, growing up together.

Big changes are coming and have come with my family. I like to accept change with open arms, but when it comes to my home and my family, I resist like mad. I refused to believe my dogs both passed when they did and didn't really accept it until I got home and they didn't come running up to me. I also was very hesitant to accept the new dog my parents got, because they got it without me. (She's precious, by the way.)

I mean, I've been in the forefront of their minds my entire life. It's so weird because your parents have so much time without you in their lives, and then for a solid 20 (24 in my case) years, they live and breathe everything that comes to their children. Vacations aren't taken unless the kids can go or be cared for, dates aren't had unless there is a babysitter; funds are started for the kids' college tuition and a car on their 16th birthday. 

So it can ruffle some feathers when you realize your parents are making decisions without you in mind. I don't mean that to be condescending, but it's the truth. When you're capable of being an adult, your parents re-learn what it's like to not be 'Mom and Dad.' It's kind of bizarre.

Just like there's no handbook for early adulthood, they're not one for retirees or empty-nesters. How do you go from spending two decades of your life devoted to another person and then have endless time for yourself? Or what do you do when you don't have to work anymore? Or you don't have a job, after probably half a century of working? How do you learn to be okay with that?

My brother just went off to college this past Saturday. As the youngest, my parents are now alone in the home, and they're about to put it up on the market so they can move. This angered me at first because I wanted to be able to come home to a place I'm familiar with for Christmas and go back to a place I grew up with my own family. But the fact remains is that my parents are still growing up and this is what they want to do. 

My mom's mom passed in '05, my dad's dad in '93 (if I remember correctly). I can't imagine losing either of my parents, at any age. How they're both able to be, well, an adult about it always amazes me. I feel like I'd just cry and cry and cry. (I have several friends who have lost parents and I have so much respect for their strength and positivity.) 

When I envisioned adulthood, it was something that you flowed right in to. It came naturally, like being a mother. But how do you learn to deal with the crises your children will go through, the art of keeping a marriage in tact; how do you automatically accept that your parents are going to pass away -- even your siblings? You don't. It's like learning to adapt in college, like getting accustomed to the 9-6 and the accompanying bills you never had to pay before. You aren't prepared when those things happen... you just do them and learn along the way.

Take a minute and remember that your parents, while wise, don't know everything (more than you, but not all). I think that's the most beautifully fascinating thing about them. They are learning still themselves but manage to keep hope, faith and security in tact for their children. 

Love you, Mom and Dad. 

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