Question: how do you know you’re selfish asshole that only thinks of himself?
Answer: when you don’t realize your parents had a life before you were born.
My mother was showing me some old home movies a few weeks ago. They were the classic 8mm (not high 8 or digital 8, 8mm) some dating back from 1950. Watching my young uncles and grandparents as well as my young mother made me realize that I have never thought of my parent’s life before my brothers and I were born. Sure, I knew they existed. I guess I just assumed they were lifeless blobs in suspended animation, waiting to procreate. With a flash though, there they were, on the screen. When I saw my mother, probably 8 years old, it kind of blew my mind. The flickered interaction with her sister and brother reminded me so much of my own with my brothers.
And then my grandfather popped up on screen. He was standing, 20 something years old looking very similar to myself. His smile and silent laughter was as genuine then as it is today. Yes, I knew he was mothers father. But until this day I have Only seen him as my grandfather. Seeing him as an actual father though…I don’t know, it made realize that growth is real.
I watch my own kids and I can see them grow. But seeing my mother as a young girl had some odd effect on me. She held onto the same worry-less existence that I once had at that age. Somewhere though, we grow. Our lives can take so many turns some times we get lost in ourselves.
My mother and I have a pretty good relationship. Not perfect, but…good. I wouldn’t wish death upon her, thats for sure. Two years ago she was diagnosed with cancer and I had to seriously consider the fact that she will in fact cease to exist…maybe sooner than anyone would want. I had to imagine a life without her. Does my mother drive me crazy? Absolutely. just like your parents drive you crazy, loyal reader. For everything thing we don’t agree on, for everything we have butt heads on and for every time we make each other question our sanity…she is a woman filled with love for her children…that is undiniable.
But before she loved her kids she loved my father, before him, another man and before she loved men, she loved her own father.
A few weeks ago, I watched my mother take a sled in 1969 and plow through her siblings. I want to know what that little girl was thinking. I want to know about the choices she made to make her the person she is today. She was my age once, and I’ll be her age at some point.
Our parents know more than we give them credit for. As their kids, we are filled to the brim thinking we know better (maybe that was just my brothers and I but I suspect many others as well). They have experienced childhood, adolescence and puberty. Why did I spend so many years thinking they didn’t exsist through that?
My mother and i will never agree 100% on everything. In fact, we won’t even agree 100% on most things. But I would be doing myself injustice to not at least see life from her perspective. After all, she’s seen it too.
Lesson of the day: remind yourself that your parents were like you. Tell them to show you their lives as children. Get to know that in so many ways they, as well as the rest of the human race, are more like you than you realize. Understand that everyone grows from childhood and that even people who have no evidence ofexistence from that period also started there. Our lives as humans can end so many different ways, good and bad, but we all start from the same place.