Saturday, October 18, 2003

Mom and Dad

For some reason, I maintain this fantasy that, growing up in the sixties, my family WAS "The Donna Reed" show.  And then somehow, as we grew up, all that fell apart and we became "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."  When I really LOOK back at it, I realize we were never perfect; much like other families of the time, that had young post-war couples raising large broods of baby-boom children.  They were EXPECTED to marry, EXPECTED to raise families.  Never mind that many of them weren't particularly suited to being parents. 

In your twenties, you spend a lot of emotional energy separating yourself from your family...trying your wings, as it were.  In your thirties, you start to realize how your parents' parenting formed large portions of your personality.  You start to blame them for your neuroses.  Understand how their failures became your own.  And resent them for it.

When you hit forty, and the old man and old lady are shrinking before your eyes, and you realize they won't be around forever, you start to forgive.  You come to the great epiphany that Mom and Dad didn't wake up every morning trying to think up ways to ruin your life.  Most often, they did the best they could with what they had.  And they made mistakes.  They are human, after all. 

I suppose if I had children, these realizations would have come to me sooner, and through experience rather than contemplation.  I have this sort of third party, standing back and observing point of view, as I see my contemporaries go through with their children what we went through with our parents, only from the other side of the generational fence.  And, really, I don't think I have what it would have taken to be a good parent.  If my children had rejected me, as they DO...I would have been hurt beyond endurance.  For this reason, I'm glad I HAD the choice not to become a parent.  Even though, when you reach this age childless, you start to wonder what you will be leaving behind when you go.   

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