This upcoming week is a big one for my parents; all three of them. My mom is celebrating her one year anniversary tomorrow with her at-one-point-new husband and five days later my father turns 55. Pretty big milestones, right? As I’ve gotten older and learned to live apart from my parents, I’ve started to realize just how amazing a parent is. It used to be parents had to clean up after you and feed you and take you to the doctor and so on (still is this way in this magical world of summer vacation), But I never thought I’d see the day where parents stopped being parents and started being something else: people. Not just any people, mind you. They were young once, just like me. They made mistakes, just like me. They struggled, just like me. They had friends just like me. And yes, parents had sex, just like… oh wait, that’s not like me. I still have time to be disgusted. With all this and more, here’s to you, the parents of the world. But mostly, here’s to mine, the greatest I know.
My mom can be a real pain sometimes, but that’s only fair considering the pains her children can be. Strength takes on many forms, and I’m blessed to say that my mom has it in spades. Struggling through a divorce, the death of her father, the loss of pets, the financial insecurity of being a single mother, missing out on half of her kids’ lives, battling addictions, dealing with resentful teenagers… I could go on. Needless to say, my mom is a beautiful, brave, and caring woman. I can’t imagine the hardship and heartbreak she’s had to endure all while having to care not only for herself, but for me and my siblings. I’ll be damned if women aren’t the strongest of us all, and damned even further if my mom isn’t among the strongest of all women.
A year ago, she married a great man that I have the privilege of calling a step-father. As any child of divorce will know, it isn’t always easy adjusting to step-parents. I don’t have a clear picture in my life of what marriage is supposed to look like; my parents are divorced and I can’t remember much before then. But enter her husband, who I didn’t understand at all. I’m still learning to live with him and accept him as a parental figure since I was away for the majority of their existing marriage. To be honest, I had a hard time picturing that photo right above this. I wondered what she saw in him because to me he was simply goofy. Goofy didn’t equate to “marriage material” in my head, but I can see I was wrong because he’s more than goofy. He’s one of the hardest workers I know. Every anniversary, holiday, ailment, and sometimes just because is an excuse to buy her flowers. He makes real efforts to connect with us children. And yes, he’s still abundantly goofy. But at the end of the day, I see that he makes my mom happy and takes care of her and supports her. For that, he will always have my respect and gratitude.
I love my mom with all my heart even if I find myself exhausted trying to teach her about technology, or when we get into screaming fits for no good reason at all. I know I can count on her to support me in all of my endeavors, either financially or verbally. I don’t show enough appreciation for her and all she does on a daily basis. But my mom deserves the world and nothing less.
And of course, I can’t forget my padre. My dad and I have a completely different relationship than the one my mom and I share. I don’t know why, but it simply is. My dad and I talk about superficial stuff a lot more and enjoy it. We’ll watch Harry Potter movies or discuss music or books or the latest Game of Thrones episode (if only he was caught up). He’s a lot more relaxed and easy-going, so he sometimes feels more like a 55 year old friend than a father. I don’t know what I can say about him. He’s fun, he’s understanding, he’s wonderful. I love my father very much, but I can never tell how deep a relationship I actually share with him. Maybe it’s mutually understood, but it just doesn’t get said. Most of our interactions are pretty positive, which just makes me think it’s more superficial. He’s the one I’ll talk to about Carrie Underwood’s latest album, but not the one I’ll tell about feeling depressed.
I think there’s underlying resentment that I bear for him that stems from many places. One of those places is the divorce. My dad is the one who divorced my mom, and I have recalled multiple times my issues with divorce. I spent most of my time with my mom and my dad had to move to California several times to find work. His most prominent relationship with a woman I really came to love didn’t work out. I’ve always felt like my dad valued me least among my siblings, particularly my brother. I’ve suspected it’s because growing up he was the youngest and the chubby red-head, so he feels more sympathy for him.
Regardless of where it stems from, I still love my dad immensely. I love spending time with him and being able to have fun with him. I love that he continues to support me in whatever way I need him to and that he’s so understanding of anything I tell him. When I speak to him, I feel like he really listens to me. I’m grateful to have him in my life.
As you can see, no family is without its problems, but I wouldn’t trade my parents for anything. They’re the ones who formed me into the person I am today and got me to where I am now. While this has been entirely about my parents, I want to give a quick holler to all parents. I recently babysat for a close friend of mine with young children and it was so rewarding, but so taxing. I drove them to swim lessons, I played with them, I had to discipline them a little, I made them food, and it was only for like five hours. Parents have to do all that and more at all points of the day for eighteen years and more. So to all of you who read this and have children, you da real MVPs. You have the hardest job in the world and one of the only jobs that you have to pay to do. Your paycheck is creating life and watching them become people. You are in most ways responsible for who they turn out to be, and that is almost always an awesome person. You don’t hear it enough that what you do MATTERS. It matters more than anything else, and I want you all to know that I see what you do, and I applaud you. You have my sincerest thanks, and I only hope that someday I can live up to that standard. Here’s to you, parents of the world, and here’s to you, Mom and Dad.