An Open Letter to My Parents

Dear Mom & Dad,Scan_Pic0012

One thing that this hosting has given me is a glimpse into the life of parenting a teen.  It’s a really exciting experience, where this person is discovering big ideas and making decisions on an adult level in so many ways.  It’s a relationship that oftentimes looks like a cozy friendship rather than a parent-child instructive relationship.

But then there are the other times.  The times when petulance abounds, and teenage drama cannot be emotionally let go for a few minutes of fun.  Times when one comment can ruin hours of a day.  Times when you think that perhaps the teenager needs to nap alongside the toddlers.

How did you do this four times?

And I was your first. The first one who put all your parenting theories to the test. The first one who found all your chinks and soft spots.  The first one you had to pick your battles with.

And I want to say thank you.

Thanks for still making me go on family vacations when all I wanted to do was sit inside and be by myself.

Thanks for choosing joy when I chose to make mountains out of molehills.

Thanks for determining to be the master of your own behavior even when mine was less than stellar.

Thanks for smiling even when I tried to make my bad day your bad day.

Thanks for persevering in making memories even when I was convinced that what we were doing was stupid.

Thanks for taking my picture even when I didn’t want it to be taken.

Thanks for loving me even when I was determined to be unlovable.

And thank you the most for not keeping an account of all these offenses.

I’m on my first vacation as the parental figure of a teenager.  She has certainly not displayed all of the things I did in my teen years.  There were just times when she had an off moment, or a complaining aside and I felt like I understand you both a little better.

Sunshine is funny and observant.  She soaked in the things we did. But there were exterior concerns that dragged her spirit down at times.  Instead of having the day of neverending joy I had planned, there were tricky moments.  When I wanted to instruct her on how to handle her emotions, I remained silent.

I learned that from you.

And I held out hope that the rest of our day would be spectacular, and the little bumps of midafternoon would go unremembered in the larger picture of family. That we would have beautiful moments to treasure.

I know that hope was possible because you modeled it over and over.

And they came, of course.  I had her bent over with laughter at my Russian attempts.  And she even let me take a couple pictures.

I’m glad I didn’t give up.  And I’m glad I didn’t let the morning blues define my own enjoyment of the day, or our plans for the evening.  I would have missed out on so much.

Thanks for slowly and patiently teaching me to never let my own expectations and demands get in the way of those great moments.  Thanks for showing me that these investments pay rich dividends because we show love by being present and engaged.  Thanks for demonstrating that my enjoyment depends on me.

Thanks for pursuing me with your love so that I could pursue this special one.

Love,
Your Daughter

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