It's hard for us to think of our parents as humans.
When we're little, they're our superheroes. When we're teenagers, they're our super villains. But as we near the age our parents had us, we realize they likely had zero idea what they were doing; they were struggling to do their best with us.
Can we all find it in our hearts to reflect a little on our own parents?
Here were some of the answers.
Unhealthy Practice For Society's SakeGiphy
That my parents HATED each other, but stayed married for over 18 years because of us kids. They faked being nice to each other to the almost very end of their marriage, even then they didn't fight in front of us kids. My Dad dealt with it mostly with alcohol. My Mom was on all sorts of high end 1970's prescription drugs.
After over 30 years of being divorced, and both having remarried, they STILL, to this day, make snide comments about each other and truly hate being in the same room.
The Unfortunate Truth
My mom drinks a bit, and as her children have moved out and on, the quantity she'll drink each night with/after dinner has increased quite a bit. Anyway, recently she told me that she can't drive at night anymore due to cataracts. I kind of went "alright that makes sense" because her 90 year old father has cataracts as well.
Yesterday I read a nonfiction piece called "Why Aren't You Laughing?" About the author's mother and her relationship with alcohol. In it, his mother uses the exact same excuse, and he states that he and his sisters knew that the real reason was she was too drunk by sundown to drive.
That was a really big "Oh" moment for me. I had to put the book down for a few minutes after I read that section.
This Job Ain't Easy
My mom was a nurse in the neo-natal unit (premature babies). There'd be days she'd come home and it was obvious she'd been crying. At the time I'd give her a hug and tell it to feel better then go play outside or back to my video games not thinking much of it - I was ten.
It wasn't until my senior year in high-school that it dawned on me, that often the reason she had been crying was because a baby had died on her shift. I can't even imagine having to deal with that on a semi regular basis. She later told me she was often responsible for supporting the parents and one of her talents was making clay moulds of the deceased babies hands as a keepsake for the parents. Thinking about doing that and having to make the moulds, made me realize that my mom was the most incredibly strong and compassionate person I'd ever known.
Hard Work To Survive
How poor we were and how well they handled it. We weren't extremely poor to the point where we were homeless, but as I got older and started to penny pinch I realized how much my parents had to. We regularly had grilled cheese or eggs for dinner which I now realize is because they're relatively inexpensive. Our vegetables were always grown in our tiny garden. Our grandmother was our only babysitter. My father worked triple overtime and my mother worked double. My mother would "splurge" on a box of wine that would last a month. My father would always wear the same clothes for years.
We always had great holidays and they never skimped out on spending money on us if we needed it. It really does make me appreciate them.
Dad Partied. It's True.Giphy
That my dad drank in high school and college. Growing up my parents always warned against drinking and talked about avoiding peer pressure to drink. I've never seen them touch a sip of alcohol. My parents always mocked people who drank and got drunk (at home not to anyone's face).
This all resulted in me waiting till I was in college to drink and waiting till I was 21 to let them know that I did when the subject came up,
At my grandpa's funeral one of my dad's high school friends came up and started talking to him. Me and my sisters were listening to them reminisce. Then his friend said "I still remember that night we went out driving with a bottle of Johnny Walker and --" my dad cut him off like super quick.
Me and my sisters were super surprised. None of knew he had ever drank. He kind of sheepishly explained how he used to be and how he didn't think it was right. We thought it was funny that we all assumed he'd never drank, but he probably had gotten wilder than we ever had.
Two things that were related. My mother always said no and made us feel insignificant because she was afraid that we (her daughters) would leave her for a better life. She always found fault in our friends and anything that would expose us to things she didn't understand. My Dad always said Yes because he knew it all along. In the midst of a deep depression, I stopped telling her my plans and my Dad helped me move across the country to find my happiness.
We Hold These Truths To Be Self Evident, That All Dads Are Created Equal
They had no idea what they were doing. Dad ran his own business for 20+ years and I've tried to follow in his foot steps starting my own. I started asking a lot of questions about business and how stuff is done and one day he sat me down, looked me in the eye and said "I really don't know how I made it work because 90% of the time I had no clue what I was doing, but when you run a company everyone assumes you're an expert. Convince them you know what you're doing even if you don't. Running a business isn't stressful because of the calls and the work, it's stressful because most of the time you're lost and making things up as you go."
I eventually told my mom about that conversation and she pretty much said the same thing.
All this time I thought I was just sh*tty at being an adult, turns out, everyone is just winging it and hoping for the best. But Dad was never going to tell his kids that, my brother and I thought he was some sort of super hero and as I got older I was real proud that my Dad owned a company. Other peoples Dads worked at companies, but my Dad owned one. Turns out all Dads are equal.
When History Can Clarify It All
They knew what they were doing.
I used to think they were talentless hacks because dad produced records for middle schoolers with rich parents and mom edited destined to be self-published romance novels from bored housewives.
It wasn't until I took an elective on the California gold rush that I learned the real cash was made in exploiting the dreamers.
I Bet He'd Wake Up If You Tried Changing The Channel
When I was a kid I used to always get upset at my dad because whenever I tried watching a movie with him, he would always fall asleep. It wasn't until I was older that I realized the reason he fell asleep was because he was so tired from working two jobs to try and give me a better life. Despite this he still attempted his best to do something with me and spend time with me, even if he ended up asleep.
How To Deal With Life And Kids At The Same TimeGiphy
How much having kids affects your career prospects/choices.
Having had me, that limited the type of work they could do, the likelihood they could take a promotion or a transfer for a better job, etc.
It was one thing I suddenly realised when I was talking to them about work and they both said that they'd been in various work choice/promotion situations where the main decision-making factor was "Can this work and not disrupt the family?"
All that stuff is pretty easy when it's just you or the two of you. But when you have kids, its not about you anymore. It made me really think about what they'd given up for me and what I might have to give up to be a parent too.
LPT: you can't have it all. You can't have the ideal FT career and be a good FT parent. The sooner you realise that to have one you have to compromise on the other, the better.