Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday Mantra: When Parents Become People

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Whether we like it or not, parents are people too
Annie Olinick

"It is easier to build up a child than it is to repair an adult."
 - Frederick Douglass

I've seen that quote many a time. It strikes me as one of the most important ones to memorize and live up to. I can see it in people I know. The ones who are unstoppably strong and confident, in all the right ways. The ones who needed more hugs and reassurances that they were loved, that they were enough. I can see it in myself, in all the ways I wish I was different, better.

A parent has the greatest responsibility of anyone out there. It's their job to raise us wild, crazy kids into mature, responsible, healthy adults. That's no easy task, given how different each person can be with personalities, beliefs, thoughts and goals and ideas. 

As a child, you look to your parents for absolutely everything - advice, guidance, life examples, wisdom. You expect them to be almost perfect because, in some ways, you need them to be. One of the most important (and hardest) lessons I ever had to learn was that my mom wasn't just my mom. She was a person, all on her own, with hopes and dreams, disappointments and failures, weird ticks and personality quirks. On some level, I knew this. About her, about all parents. But as her daughter, as a child, I had certain expectations of her as my mother. 

I've realized that there is a point where my mom stops being my mom and she becomes her own person. The person she always has been, always was, long before I was in the picture. The person who can handle certain things and needs me to handle others because she just simply cannot do it. The person who sometimes needs to trade places with me because life has left her alone and she doesn't know what to do next. The person who has her own beliefs about God and the world and what's right and wrong and who will never see eye-to-eye with me on some things that drive me absolutely crazy.

I find it equally comforting and sad that many of my friends can relate to this. We've all had the "What were/are our parent's thinking?" talks. We've made pacts to stop each other from doing those same things in life. We, I think (I hope), won't end up doing them because we have seen and lived them first hand. We will, I'm certain, make our own mistakes. We will fail and mess things up and try and try and try, but at the end of the day I hope we will have built our children up to be strong, compassionate people. I hope when our children see us as people and not just parents, they'll be proud. 

I struggled writing this post. There are so many things I could say from my perspective as a child, which is of course going to be completely different than that of a parent. I have no perspective as a parent right now, unless you count my four legged children. I know there are good parents and mediocre parents and parents that should never have been parents in the first place. I know that most (most, not all) parents try their very best to be good examples to their children. I know this. 

I guess what I'm really trying to get across here are two things:

One - We have to accept that our parents are people, too. People who have their own personalities, their own ways of doing things, their own lives. People who will make mistakes and who will let us down, not necessarily on purpose, but because they are simply human. That being said, we have the inherent right as their children to expect a certain level of parenting that guides us, protects us, cares for us, and doesn't leave us wondering WTF is going on in their heads. 

Two - We all have a responsibility to be better people, whether or not we're parents right now. We have a responsibility (to ourselves, to our current children or our future children) to be the best people we possibly can be. To love unconditionally and be fiercely compassionate in all things we do. To set the right examples by demonstrating through our own actions. To build our children up so that they can be even better parents than us. Ultimately, to know at the end of each day with whatever mistakes we made, we gave it everything we had to be the best people our children could have ever hoped we'd be. 

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