Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 things: Day 24

day 24- a letter to your parents

I've been avoiding this. My relationship with my parents has been kind of a yo-yo in recent years. I'm, in fact, no longer talking to my father after my entire lifetime of being his daughter coupled with sharing a house with him as a joint tenant and co-owner for the last seven years. A decision made with an open heart that I regret frequently.

If I would have written this 3 months ago, it would have a different content, 3 years ago, even more different, 10 years ago, probably wouldn't even seem like the same writer.

I can chalk it up to this: at some point, at some age, for some reason, when you're an adult and no longer completely dependent on your parents, the playing field just evens out. They're and adult and so are you. Long ago, I came to realize that I made more than my mother ever did as as an adult and my father ever did as an adult and breadwinner for a family of five. Different times, different economy, but it made me think.

As I've gotten older, I've come to realize that my parents...well they're just people. People, who like me, just don't know what the fucking answer is sometimes and they're just trying to do the best thing they can. Yeah, there were a lot of mistakes and a lot of selfishness and a lot of just plain bad faith, but they did try to do the right thing. If I was going to write a letter to either one of them, it would go something like this:

Thank you for trying your hardest and trying to stay together for us kids. Dad, thanks for teaching us a strong work ethic, even when you couldn't make enough and had to ask others to help you support your family from time to time. I know that couldn't have been easy as a man. Mom, thanks for trying to keep it all together and doing the best you could with three kids who were "spirited", a husband who was working and/or at school and not as available as he should have been, and being creative to work around a very basic budget and an exhausting commitment that you stuck with as long as you could have.

I wish a lot of things. Mom, I wish you would have left a miserable marriage long before it got to the point it did. We would have survived. I don't know how you did it. At my age now, you were not happy, you were not heard, and you were raising two children with a third on the way. If I was your friend back then, I would have helped you get out and get on your own two feet. You deserved more. I'm glad you finally got out and found someone to love you the way you should be.

Dad, I wish you weren't so selfish to rob your wife and mother of your children of the support she needed for years. I wish you would have taught your son how to treat women and what respecting his mother was supposed to look like. I wish you would have learned to value your children for their relationships and not just the amount of money they could bring in to support you in your disabled, elderly years. I know some of this you can't help because you need help. I've seen the blank stare in your eyes when something sensible is said to you and it just washed over you like a wave. I wish that the handful of people that are still near and dear to you would really push you to get help so you can mend what is left of the shred of relationship that might be left between you and I. You always showed love in your own ways, it was constant, but you were not. I still love you, but I don't like you anymore. Please get some help before it's too late.


  1. I'm remarkably surprised you don't have a strong following here. That's an "almost fine" piece of writing (I reserve "fine" for Saul Bellow and Alice Munro) and a well-conceived "confessional," if you will. When I hear of those who had parents who probably shouldn't have been, I look back on mine, both of whom were extraordinary on all levels.

    But this isn't about me, eh? Your quote, "People, who like me, just don't know what the fucking answer is sometimes and they're just trying to do the best thing they can." Presumably you're considerably younger than my nearly 7 decades. I've "been around the block," as they say, too many times, have several degrees and an, some people say, "impressive" background.

    Nobody knows the answers. No matter how profoundly we ponder them, they may be "right" at the moment, but probably wrong in the long term or just meaningless.

    To be a better photographer, perhaps following the advice of one of the Impressionists (memory fails on the name), "If you want to be a painter, paint the same stove 100 times..."

    To be a musician's fairly easy, if you have no real goals: Pete Seeger said "Anyone can play the guitar, just learn three chords...and anyone can sing."

    Keep're pretty good at it and I like to follow blogs that are updated. So many have disappointed me...just when I start reading them, I notice that posts are months or years old. It's a great way of venting, etc.

    Take care.

  2. I feel like that point we realize our parents are just people too trying to find their way is when we officially become adults.

  3. A good parent: Your kids don't live at home, haven't shot you, don't ask for money and still love you. Simple stuff.

  4. Once again, I love your courage to put this out there. I blew it on my "Letter to My Parents" post. Like I so often do, I avoided the raw feelings and complete dysfunction and inserted surface-level (if not obligatory) positive memories. I wish I had your courage.

    I remember the exact day I woke up and thought, "Oh. My. Hell. My parents were wrong. They tricked me! They don't know everything! They weren't right!"

    I was in college.

    So comforting to know that everyone has this type of epiphany, and that also I am some kind of an adult :)