Day 19: Disrespecting your parents

My first thought on this topic was simple: umm, don’t disrespect your parents. Duh!

However, we all know that relationships can be complicated.  I, myself, have had an up and down relationship with my parents through my life. When people are wired differently, and have different life experiences, it’s sometimes hard to understand where each other are coming from. 

When I was younger, it all seemed so simple. Parents should be parental, and perfect like the ones you see on TV. You know them- the ones that always make the right decisions, say the right things, and are 100% selfless when it comes to their children. It’s a no-brainer, right?

Honestly, it didn’t really seem less simple once I had my own kids. How I felt about Cameron after she was born made it all seem so clear: she was first, always. She was my sun, moon, stars, and everything in between, and I could never imagine life being more complicated than that.

I was stupid.

Okay, that might be harsh. I was naive. I was also young. 

The older I get, the more my opinions change on things. I used to think parenting was black and white. You love your kids and never let anything hurt them. Being real, I never understood why my mother didn’t leave my father when I was a kid. In case you missed it, my father was an addict, he could only love you so much, until you got in between him and what he was in need of, and sometimes, my mother was his addiction, and being her child, I sometimes got in the way of that. 

As an adult, now, not that I can say “oh I TOTALLY get it,” I can now say, it wasn’t my relationship to get. I’ve walked many miles in shoes that most my age haven’t had to wear; I’ve felt their eyes boring into my back as I’ve gone forward, judging my decisions, deciding what they would do if they were me (when they couldn’t possibly have a clue, having never had to be a widow with kids). I’ve felt the weight of it all, and realized it’s just not that simple. My mom had her own baggage going into and during her marriage, and no matter how privy I was to it all (and I was), I didn’t get it. I couldn’t get it. We argued countless times over the years. There were times I disrespected her. There were times she disrespected me.

But here is where perhaps my old age wisdom kicks in (okay…my early middle age…), if you’re lucky, your parents will be among the closest relationships you’ll ever have. My mom and I have seen some really ugly days, some words said or things done I wasn’t sure we’d ever come back from…but I know she loves me. She knows I love her. I’m solid in my belief that we can get past arguments, and occasional “disrespect,” because I’ve come to realize that being honest in your disagreement doesn’t automatically have to be disrespectful, although it may feel that way in the thick of things. Sometimes, you just have to know that you’re never going to agree on some things, and people, even parents, aren’t perfect. We’re all human, capable of saying and doing shitty things in the heat of the moment; out of fear, pain, or hurt. 

That doesn’t make it okay, and it doesn’t make it not hurt; but it does make it easier to move forward. After all of life has thrown at us, my mom and I enjoy a close relationship with more intentional respect shared between us.