One of the first assignments we are ever given at school is a “what something means to me.” More often than not, it has to do with our families.
“Family means love”
“Family means fun.”
“My mummy bakes with me.”
“I love it when my daddy plays with me.”
A long list of an innocent child perceptive on the world around them. What they don’t see, is the hardships, the struggles and the pain that adults go through to make sure that their children have those memories. The sacrifices, the fights and the frustrations are all pushed aside. Smiles replace frowns, deep breathes are taken and memories are made simply from sheer will of the parents.
Children never stop to think about how much parents go through in order for those ‘what something means to me’ memories to be created. They don’t think of the bad – only the good and the small wins in the forms of toys, hugs and amazing food. And most people will agree that that’s the way it should be. Why should children have to carry the burden of their parents’ struggles when they can have the freedom of just being children? Don’t get me wrong, I agree. Whenever there is something wrong, I try and hid it from my children. It’s just what we as parents do. Protect our babies.
But children are smarter then we give them credit for. They pick up on things most adults will brush over and are incredibly intuitive – except when it comes to bed time then all bets are off. Why do we think that they don’t pick up that something might not be as amazing as it seems? As they get older, they will figure it out. Then what? Do we continue to lie? Do we tell half-truths or do we treat them as the people they are and level with them?
Sure, it might get to the point where they start blaming you for things. God knows I blamed my parents for a lot of things. And think about it, if it’s not the children blaming you for something, you can put money on the fact that society will.
Everyone always has an opinion on something and when it comes to raising children, everybody feels the need to put their two cents in. It drives me nuts. We judge people on the smallest things without knowing anything about what goes on behind closed doors. I get judged all the time because I am a young mum. When I first signed my daughter up for school, most the school mums assumed I was an older sister and upon finding out I was actually her mother, boy did I cop the judgement! We can’t know what goes on and it’s not our place to judge nor is it our place to blame parents for everything. Sure, it’s their job to raise their children to be good people but where is the rule book that states how they go about doing that? Too much sacrifice leads to kids feeling abandoned but too little sacrifice then you are a bad example and a burden on society. We can’t have it both ways.
Being adult and a parent myself, I have realised just how much my parents sacrificed and went through to make me the person I am today. I mean I always knew how hard my parents worked and as I was getting old, it made more sense to me and I could see how tired they were or how stressed they were and I wanted to help – as much as a child could without understanding the whole story.
And for that, Mum and Dad, I am sorry. I’m sorry it took me so long to realise.
I am sorry about the tantrums and the late nights. I am sorry about the constant worry and the grief I gave you fighting every rule that I now know was only there to protect me. I am sorry for believing that I knew better and argued that you didn’t know me well enough. I was wrong.
I was wrong in assuming that because you were from a different generation, you had no idea what the world and were out of touch. I was wrong in assuming that you didn’t care about me (in the grips of teenage anguish) I am sorry for assuming that everything was perfectly happy when you both were sacrificing things I didn’t know we needed for things we only wanted.
You were sacrificing time so we had what we wanted for Christmas. You were sacrificing work and free time when we were sick. You were sacrificing your hard earned money on things we wanted but didn’t need. I am sorry for the times I yelled at you. I am sorry for the times I lied to you. I am sorry for thinking that you guys sucked and were the worst parents in the world (again, in the amidst of teenage anguish)
You weren’t, aren’t and never will be.
Because of the rules, I learnt discipline. Because of your time, I learnt compassion. Because of your interests, I learnt passion and with that, the words to songs no 26 year old should know (Dad I am talking to you) I know exactly how many drinks you’ve had by what dance moves you break out and that you will never go over the limit when we are around. I know the rules of a game I can’t stand. I know the rules of sports I don’t even remember watching. Because of your friendliness, I learnt kindness. And because of your love, I learnt to love myself. Because of your strength, sacrifice and generally being amazing, I learnt how to be a pretty badass parent.
I once swore to myself I would never be like my parents. Now, I can’t imagine being anyone else. I hear my mother’s voice come out of my own mouth all the time.
Why wouldn’t I want to be someone who is loving, caring, kind, compassionate, hilariously funny and stronger than anyone I have ever known? What’s not to love about two slightly dorky but totally amazing and always embarrassing parents?
Be kind to your parents. Love your parents and stop blaming them for your mistakes. They created you and gave you the gift of life. Take that life and honour them by doing something worthwhile with it. No parents want to see their children unhappy and no child should want to make their parents unhappy. They have been here longer than you and have more than likely been through what you are going through. Don’t shut out the built in security system you have within your parents. They are your biggest supporters, teachers and they are the ones who will be there long after the others fade away. Look past the long hours and deep sighs and see parents who are working their arses off just to make your childhood incredible and to make sure you have those memories of what family means.
Love them. Treasure them. Remember them.