Mother, Mother

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “Your Parents.”

I’d never met the woman who was visiting the DivorceCare class that night two and a half years ago. But something clicked for her when I was talking about churches I’d been to. “What’s your last name?”

I tell her, and she explained that, while we hadn’t met, she knew my parents from when I lived in Mississippi. “Yeah, they said you were the editor of a newspaper. They were so proud of you.”

My choice of careers had always been one of best examples of why I never even tried to win my parents’ approval. I knew they were disappointed in what I’d chosen, but I believed it was more important to pick a career that made me happy than them, so I had to do it every day. And that made it easier to make other decisions. I knew they had issues with my choice to marry Nicole, but, hey, they didn’t approve of anything I did anyway, what’s one more?

That night was a complete paradigm shift. Apparently my picture of how my parents felt about my career was wrong, or at least incomplete. The idea that they might have been proud of me was completely foreign, totally alien. It was good to hear. But the other reaction I had was, why am I hearing it this way? Why would they tell this woman, and not me?

Dear Mom and Dad,

I know that you’re proud of me. Sometimes, at least. I do wish you would let me know yourselves.

I value your advice. I crave your input. I respect your wisdom. Talk to me. Tell me what you think. But know that ultimately, my decisions are my own. If I make one that’s not what you think I should, it’s not because I don’t respect you. It’s just a mistake I have to make for myself.

I know that you hate seeing me make decisions that come back to hurt me. I know that you are disappointed at times with how my choices reflect on our name. I appreciate the former. I feel bad about the latter. But those decisions make me who I am. I am the product of all I’ve been through. A year from now, I will be different still. A little bit older. A little bit wiser. A little bit more mature. Most likely a little bit more scarred. And part of that will be because I will make my share of mistakes over the next year, too. Don’t feel bad that you can’t spare me the growth that will come from that.

God has gifted you each very differently than He has gifted me. At times, I’ve felt guilty that I wasn’t more like you. At other times, I’ve resented that you’re not more like me. It’s only been recently that I’ve been able to see and understand the beauty of that. We are all part of a body that is larger than any of us, a body that requires divers parts to function. We balance each other. We temper each other. At times I’ve found you judgmental, and yet I’m a complete hypocrit to judge you for that. The ability to speak truth is a beautiful thing. Do so always in love.

It’s hard for me to ask for your help. Has been for at least the last 14 years. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t really appreciate it when given. And crave it when I don’t ask.

I owe so much of what I am to you, both to how you raised me, and to who you are. Anything I’ve accomplished, I owe to you. And I thank you for that. I can’t imagine wanting for better parents, for different parents. No one else on this Earth would have raised the man I have become. I can trace much of the worst in me back to you as well. As with the good, both to how you raised me, and to who you are. But it’s been a privilege watching the two of you grow up, to see you deal with those issues as well. I’m proud of who you have become, and it gives me hope for myself.

I don’t live at home; I haven’t for a long time. I don’t have children. But I enjoy spending time with you, too. I feel sometimes like I get lost because I don’t bring the same things to the table as my brothers. But I’m too proud to try to intrude into your lives. We’re both busy. But I miss you sometimes.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to this — I know you love me. I’m grateful. And I love you, too.