Our parents are the lynch pins of our lives in many ways. They’re the force that gave us life, cared and provided for us, and taught us about the world. I’ve always looked up to my own parents with love and admiration but once I had a child of my own, I began to see them in a whole new light.
They were sleep deprived
My mother always tells me about my brother’s refusal to go to sleep at night. My dad would have to get the car out and drive in circles around the block to get my brother to go to sleep in the car seat and then transfer him into his bed. Even though I obviously knew that my parents raised us from babies, the details of our babyhood were never really talked about that much until I had a child of my own—and now the funny stories won’t stop coming!
They did their best
I thought my parents were experts in parenting when I was a kid. So, of course, any mistakes they made were a horrible let down because of my expectation of perfection. I was a pretty horrid teenager in retrospect. I judged my parents, criticizing what I saw as their failings and, basically, was an ungrateful brat. I always saw the ways they failed (like if they said the wrong thing, or gave me the wrong gift) instead of where they succeeded. What I see now is parents who loved their kids a huge amount and tried their very hardest to make them happy—parents who were just regular people, muddling their way through this parenting business, who made mistakes and got things wrong, too. They did a pretty darn good job.
They put us first
My mom was a public school teacher. She left her job after my brother was born and didn’t work again until I started preschool at age 5. She was out of the work force for eight years, and didn’t have child care if she ever needed a break from us kids. Her career probably took a big hit but her focus was always on what was best for us. Now I’m facing my own dilemma finding a balance between raising my child and working, I feel the enormity of the personal sacrifice my mother made to stay home with us.
They sacrificed a lot
I remember my weekends as a kid as a blur of dance classes and birthday parties. My parents remember their weekends of my childhood as a blur of driving me and my brother all over the city, and waiting for us to finish whatever it was we were doing so they could drive us back home again. I actually cringe when I think of how I took this for granted. I never once thought that maybe they wanted to do something on a Saturday except chauffeur me around. Now that I drive my daughter around I get it—I don’t want thanks because I enjoy her enjoyment but I do now tell my parents how grateful I am for their time.
They showed us the world
One of the absolute best memories from my childhood is a wonderful eight week trip we took to Hong Kong, London, Europe and Egypt. I constantly pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. This trip (back in the late ‘80s) must have cost my parents a fortune and they had obviously saved up for a very long time. It was the one big family trip we did all together. While I’m sure they enjoyed the trip immensely, I’m also sure they had no way of knowing the effect it would have on my and my brother’s lives. This wonderful experience opened my eyes to a world outside of my little suburbia. It gave me the wanderlust bug that hasn’t stopped moving my heart and feet all around the world. We were a family who were big on experiences rather than material things and it’s a lesson I am trying to replicate now for my daughter.
They loved me hard
And still do! My whole childhood I felt loved, but it wasn’t until I had a child of my own that I really saw, for the first time, everything my parents did for me through the eyes of an adult. I finally felt the magnitude of their love for me—and it was humbling.
This article first appeared on MommyNearest.
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!