I'm getting older my friends. And I’m noticing something.
Something besides the darkening of the hair on my upper lip and the way I can no longer sleep on the ground while camping and still wake up refreshed.
I’m noticing that I am both mesmerized and befuddled by one thing. Well, two things. Er, people.
They know so many things.
They don’t know much.
They are so experienced.
They are so inexperienced.
They are full of advice.
They need advice.
They do things right.
They do things wrong.
Do you get the picture? Do you know what I’m talking about?
As a kid I had seen my parents as heroes who could beat down robbers in the night, lift cars off of my mangled body in the event that I was struck down in the street, and surely knew everything about everything. Stage 1 – Ignorant Adoration.
When I was a teenager, I experienced a sudden shift in the way I saw my parents, a shift into Stage 2 – Exaggerated Realization. You know the one. The one where you suddenly realize your parents don’t know everything and logically conclude that they must therefore know nothing?
I couldn’t believe I had never noticed how ridiculous my parents were.
How dare they impose such trite laws upon me as curfew? It’s not like I was going to get into any trouble after 10pm on a school night. And sitting me down with my boyfriend to discuss the idea that we ought to be wary of pettin’ and sofa settin’ while trying not to actually say words like petting? Big, obnoxious eye roll.
And then I found my true love, got married, and decided to start a family. Enter Stage 3 – Ignorant Expectation.
I am going to do everything so much better than they did.
I am going to spend all my days singing nursery rhymes and jumping on trampolines with my adoring angel children.
My kids are going to be so well-behaved and so smart and it will all be because of me.
But somewhere along the line, probably around the time my oldest son turned two, I suddenly realized something.
I know nothing.
My parents know so much.
I am so dumb.
My parents are so smart.
I cannot raise this psychotic child.
Maybe I will give him to my parents.
Stage 4 – Ego Crushing Disbelief.
And now, four years and two more kids later, I am in Stage 5.
What’s Stage 5? I’m not really sure what to call it.
Live and Learn? Acceptance? Enlightenment?
All I know is that I am now seeing things a bit more clearly (hopefully). I don’t think my parents have all the answers, but I’m glad for their advice. I see some flaws, but I adore their strengths. I realize that I can still come to them when I have a problem. I can still talk to them and ask questions and dump my kids on their doorstep when I just can’t take it anymore.
I can appreciate that we are different from each other.
I can appreciate them as individuals, as real people…
And yes, as my parents.
And I can appreciate that they are still pretty darn forgiving of my awkwardness.
Like that moment in a conversation with a parent when I use a word like vagina or masturbation, and they duck their heads, their eyes get wide, and they look at me like, “You know what that is????”
I love you Mom and Dad.