Saturday, February 14, 2009

To Whom It May Concern

(Read: Dear Mom and Dad,)

I'm taking a class right now, in which we've been asked to write a letter to our parents. We need to explore the idea that there are things about our parenting style that is reflective of how we, ourselves, were parented. What things do we find ourselves doing that mimics our own parents (good or bad), what have we tried to change, and what would we change if we could do it all over again?

I had already written the "I love you so much, you're amazing" letter to you a couple times during my time at Child Welfare, but that was either before I had my own kids or when H was still tiny.

I've been thinking about this letter for about a week and thought it was appropriate to enter it as a blog post on Valentine's Day, as my love letter to you.

What would I change? It may seem cliche but there is really nothing I would change about the way you raised me. Yes, I yell at H when I wish I wouldn't. But those aren't the times that are reminiscent of childhood to me; it's the fresh-baked bread, the home-made play-doh, having H be a 'taste tester' for home-made rolls, fun day-trip adventures, or just a lazy Sunday drive.

From watching you work everyday so that all four of us have always earned compliments on our work ethic, to seeing your love and kindness to each other (with an appropriate level of sass thrown in) in order that we could seek positive partners, you did it all right. But most importantly, I've realized that the best thing you ever did for us, after establishing your solid foundation, was modeling your mistakes, and your reaction to ours.

The Girls, Big and Little, have made our fair share of blunders, errors in judgement and poor life choices; some of them body-cast-worthy and some just needing a little hydrogen peroxide and a band-aid. Through it all, you've made your presence known.

Never the crazy parents in the stands demanding better performance, 'have fun and do your best' was the motto that led us all to happily be three-season athletes, honor-roll students and, our best accomplishment, four-year college graduates.

Looking at H and C, I finally understand why, when we had our biggest failures or disappointed you the most you refused to believe that we were anything less than the gap-toothed tow-head, the freckled brunette, the chipmunk cheeked 'Bull Ramos' or the ole blue eyes for whom you held so much hope and promise. Our successes can all be traced back to your belief in our abilities to take the pieces that were left from the mistakes and put it all back together with your guidance and our own will.

You had to strike a balance between assuring that we were physically and emotionally healthy and not asserting yourself when you probably desperately wanted to, knowing that doing so could destroy our ability to confide in you when we needed it most.

Dad, you are quiet in your strength and that was so important for our estrogen-charged household. Mom, you just took it all. I know the level of abuse we heaped upon you, and can now understand why it hurt your feelings, even though at the time we thought you were just being unreasonable in your sensitivity to our mocking.

Sure, we "liked" dad better sometimes, but you'll note none of us have authored the prophesied The Witch and Mr. Wonderful. Let someone outside the family try and make fun of you; I guarantee, none of us would laugh.

It is no coincidence that you have four daughters of such extremely different personalities who genuinely love and appreciate each other, anxiously looking forward to each time that we all get to be in the same room together (after that decade passed when we never had a gathering that ended without one of us leaving in tears). All happy mothers just hoping that with a lot of work and a little luck, we'll be able to replicate with our own kids what you did for us; You are "Perfectly Good."

(The photo was taken when we went back to the church in Maryland where my parents were married two years ago. It was the first time they'd been back in 42 years)


Crafty Mama said...

What a beautiful letter. Thanks for sharing.

Sherri said...

Sara, you captured our parents perfectly--thank you!