I’ve sat in Sunday school classes and listened to other women rave about their Betty Crocker moms and their Father Knows Best dads, and I’ve wondered if they were telling the truth. One shouldn’t sit in church and wonder if their friends are lying, should they? But everyone’s parents seemed very different from mine.
My mother never gave me cooking lessons, or turned the kitchen over to me. When I took Home Economics and tried to make a dress, we often came to blows over her sewing machine. Our home became a war zone each night when I tackled homework. I couldn’t learn under Mom because she didn’t have the patience to teach. My passive dad wasn’t forceful enough to instruct.My parents were strict way beyond fairness—at least Mom was, and Dad always backed her up. They were quick to dole out punishment, and very lacking when it came to encouragement. I was never told “You can do and be anything you set your mind to.” Were you? I know it depends on when you were born. Anyone born after the 60s probably had it sweet.
My parents didn’t know how to give encouragement because they’d never received it themselves. Mom was the oldest of ten kids. She didn’t have time for dreams, unless it was when she climbed that tree to read her books. Her family thought she was odd, persnickety, and wondered where she got the “perfection gene.” My dad was somewhere in the middle of thirteen kids. He was quiet, incredibly shy and his family made fun of him because he didn’t talk much—if at all. He didn’t talk when I knew him either. If I had to choose a parent’s head to live in for a week, I’d choose my dad’s. He was a mystery.
My previous post was about family quotes, but I left out the most important one: You’re in for a rude awakening. I heard that a lot, and can't tell you how often it flashes through my mind. Anytime I failed a test, got in trouble at school, asked for something outlandish … I heard, “You’re in for a rude awakening” with a long spiel about how life isn’t anything like we think it’s going to be.And it isn’t. Sometimes it's better; sometimes it's worse, but it's never like we think it's going to be. That's a given.
When I visit my mom in the nursing home, I marvel at the “child” she has become—a small white-haired woman waiting for someone to tell her what to do, how to do it, and when. Well, actually, we can't tell her when to do something because she won't remember. She lives in the very immediate now. We often explain how to turn on the TV for the hundredth time during a day . Her faded blue eyes are like question marks—so unlike the confident, sometimes hard and angry ones I remember; the ones that sent silent messages to me and my brother when we were growing up. Her eyes could strike fear in us and make promises of what awaited us when we got home. Patience has been forced on her—along with a lot more.You’re in for a rude awakening, she’d tell me. And when I visit her in the nursing home, realize I miss the woman she was, I know Mom was right. My rude awakening has finally come.
Share something that breaks your heart.