Dear Mom & Dad,
I remember you mumbling to me a few times…”You’ll understand someday.” Well, that someday has finally come full circle.
I remember my childhood clearly and it was marvelous! I remember going out on the pontoon boat with family and friends and playing for hours with the minnows in the live well, trips to the local beaches, sledding, snowmobiling, trips to hotels and shopping malls, a custom made playhouse, a Christmas light display that was magical, hours of dress up and lots and lots of Barbies. It was near perfect in my opinion.
As a teenager, I used to think you asked too many questions, cared a little too much and watched over my every move too often. Sometimes I felt like you never let me make my own decisions, always trying to save me from my own mistakes. When I stayed out a little too late, when I did poorly on a test, or when I didn’t make it home just in time for my curfew, I thought everyone else had it easier than me. Some of my friends parents didn’t seem as strict, they seemed more relaxed and I was convinced I must have had it so bad. The screaming matches I sometimes started were totally worth it from my perspective.
As a young adult, I thought I couldn’t wait for my freedom. The time finally came for me to move to college and I was so excited! The thought of living on my own was so thrilling! Doing what I wanted, coming home when I wanted and not having to explain where I was or where I was going to anyone.
The day finally came when I moved out on my own and started college. This was my first indication that I may have taken you – my parents – for granted.
I cried for hours at a time wishing that I could just go home. This is what I waited so long for? To feel miserable? I was so home sick I could barely function. Why did I wish for this? It was terrible. All I wanted was for someone to cook for me, be there when I got home and stroke my hair when I was sick. It turns out becoming an adult is not all it’s cracked up to be. I appreciated you more in this moment than I can even explain. I remember calling you in tears, and you reassured me that everything was going to be ok. I received care packages with treats and little gifts to get me through until the next time I could have a long weekend or holiday home. The wait in between visits was truly painful.
Fast forward to the day I got married and a few years later when I had my first baby. I quickly realized why you asked me all those questions. I realized why you spent late nights up worried about me when you weren’t sure exactly were I was (before cell phones were main stream. I know weird right?!) I knew exactly why you made me call every time I made it somewhere safely.
Things really sunk in when I welcomed new life into my world. Now I knew what being a parent really was about. There is so much responsibility to keep this little person warm, safe and happy! The ironic thing, I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg compared to what you have experienced.
Seeing you at the hospital holding my baby in your arms, I could tell just how much love and compassion you had for your grandchild that I had given to you. In that very moment my breath was taken away and I was consumed by how sorry I was for ever making you worry sick about me. I felt a sense of guilt wash over me as I watched how much happiness this baby brought to your eyes. I knew in my heart that this is how you must have looked at me when I was born. How could I have been so horrible to you when you just wanted to love me hard and do the best things for me!
Now that I have a family of my own I understand what it means to worry about your children and their well being. Granted my children are still young, I can’t imagine what it is like to go through the many stages of childhood, the teenage years and young adulthood and watch your kids work through hardships, wishing you could save them, or better yet, reroute them before it all goes wrong. I also cannot image what it is like to see your children succeed on a larger scale and watch them build a life and family of their own.
I already know it’s only a matter of time before the innocence of childhood wears off (I’m so not ready for this…insert ugly mom cry here) but when it happens I know I can call you. I know you’ll have advice to share to get me through any battle that lies ahead. It takes a village right?!
I’m sure I have a lot of sleepless nights filled with worry and anxiety ahead of me, but I’ll have faith in knowing how I was raised. Knowing that as long as I instill the same things in my children that were instilled in me, my kids will turn out just fine. They will fall, they will fail and they will make mistakes along the way, but they will also get back up, keep fighting and succeed!
As a parent I know I’ll always be there for them, I’ll be their biggest fan, their hardest critic and sometimes their worst nightmare…but I’m doing it all out of love, just like you did for me. Just how I was raised, I’ll be sure to stick to the same values.
Thank you mom and dad. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for shaping me into the adult and mom that I am today. I couldn’t have done it without all your love and support and I certainty will continue to count on you as they grow up! I know I’m not perfect and neither are they so I am slowly learning to accept challenges with grace. They are learning as they go and so am I.
Here is your official very public and sympathetic sorry for all those nights I kept you up wondering where exactly I was, all those useless yelling matches and door slamming, and all the worry and anxiety I’m sure I caused you growing up. If I would have realized what it was like without someone there for me, without someone constantly worrying about me and caring for me, I would of had a different opinion. But I didn’t have that. All I had was unconditional love and parents that were relentless in letting me know just that. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you have done for me and continue to do for me. This life would not be the same without my amazing, loving, hardworking, caring, giving parents. You are simply amazing people. I hope to live up to your standard someday for my own children.