Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Who Knew Us When

Two seconds before I took this picture they were cuddled together, sharing a bath.  Then they switched to a wrestling match that ended with Lucy running away and Tucker curling up in a smug little ball at my feet.

A friend and I had coffee the other day and the topic of family came up.  My friend was feeling pretty frustrated and I asked why.  I heard about how my friend's parents feel a certain way about an issue - an issue that is admittedly, something that would be extremely difficult as a parent to adjust to - and the way that they feel is - for all intents and purposes - pretty openminded and accepting.  Still, it's not how my friend wants their parents to feel and this is causing a lot of upset and hurt.  Now, I am not my friend (nor am I my friend's parents) and I make no claim to understand the complexities of the emotions on either side.  But in an attempt to offer some objective perspective on the whole thing, I gently suggested to my friend that from what I could hear about how their parents felt, it sounded like they were really making an effort.  And I added to that observation a kind of universal truth - that there is a perpetual gap between who we might want our parents to be, and who they actually are.  Just like how there is a forever and continuous valley between the person our parents want us to be and dreamed we would be, and who we actually turn out to be.  

The point seemed to hit home (in spite of the clumsiness of the metaphor).  I sometimes think about how with all the moving around I've done and the way I've lived my life, I don't hardly know anyone outside of my family who has known me for more than a few years (if that).  The people that watched me grow up, that knew me when I was small and still know me now, people that perhaps took a guess or had an idea or an unspoken wish or even a whole host of expectations about who I would grow to become - what do they think now?  How wide has the valley grown?


Allison the Meep said...

You are wise beyond your years, lady.

I struggle with this a lot with my parents. I feel like a constant source of disappointment to them because I'm not who they want me to be, and I tell myself to never do this to my own children. All I want for them is that they grow to be kind and compassionate people. Everything else is really just filler - your job, what you look like, what kind of house you live in. But kindness doesn't change.

Cait said...

You're right, kindness doesn't change. And it's always hard for me to think about the adult that the 9-year-old bully will one day become, because it really does start that early.