Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Reality of Parenthood

I don't know if you watch This Is Us, but I do. Every week. Like clockwork. Maybe I relate to it because like Randall, I have anxiety. Maybe I relate to it because I'm 36 and still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. Maybe it's because it reminds me that we are all full of happiness and regret. It's probably a mix of all three of those reasons. Regardless, this scene had me a little more emotional:

It's no secret Dad's been in and out of the hospital and nursing home the past year and a half, and luckily, it's not cancer and there's no timeline looming. But it's sure made me think about a lot of things because after losing Mom, Dad's battle has reminded me of just how valuable time with your parents really is, whether the time you have left is hours or years. It will just never be long enough.

I have a new appreciation for my parents since I've had my own children. Perhaps the most important thing I've learned is that parents are not perfect. They make good choices and bad choices; they have answers and sometimes they don't; sometimes they do their best and sometimes they're just trying to get by. 

I remember being upset when Dad missed a major tournament we were in for softball in high school. As a parent, I know that sometimes we don't get to see those games not because we don't want to, but because a job or a sibling or an ailing parent takes precedence over attendance, as unwanted and unfair as that might be. And I remember the time I was angry with mom for forgetting to pick me up at ballet class; as a parent, I know that sometimes we are juggling so many balls that something falls through the cracks, and sometimes that thing is the most important part of our lives. It happens. 

As a parent, I've also learned:
  • That my own views don't always mesh with my parents, just as my views don't always mesh with my kiddos (and probably will continue that trend long into the future). That doesn't always mean they're wrong or I'm wrong; it means they were raised and then raised me to have my own thoughts and opinions. And despite our differences and our frustrations with each other, I can rest assured that they love me no matter what and vice versa.
  • Disappointment can and will happen - on both ends. There are certainly times my parents have disappointed me, and I know there have been times I've disappointed them. How we react to those times and grow and move forward is key.
  • You cherish the good times, because they are what will get you through the bad. When Dad is having tough days and nothing is going right and we're both frustrated beyond comprehension, we fall back on talking about fishing escapades and card games, funny stories or family ancestry. Those are the things that, no matter how awful we're feeling, can bring that sliver of silver lining back to the moment at hand.
  • Parents don't always do everything right. Parents are human, they (we) make mistakes. And we don't see those mistakes until years later, when we're able to look back and see how we might have done something differently. And we can only hope that we raise our children to be better than we were so that in our older years, we might be able to make memories that usurp the ones we aren't so fond of.
Perhaps this is all part of why I really enjoy This Is Us. Seeing Randall and his father put the past aside and learn to thrive in the present is a reminder that we cannot move on and find peace if we cannot let go of the past. There's always room for more laughter.

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